Comment from Bryn Hopkinson – Provectus

This afternoon Bryn Hopkinson of Provectus submitted a comment to this blog. As the owner and moderator of this site I have chosen not to approve it. (This is the first and only comment I have not approved.)

I set up this blog at my own expense to provide a focus for those opposed to the Hilltop Open Cast project. Provectus have their own web site which they are welcome to use to put forward their views and such information as they wish to put in the public domain. I do not intend to provide them with free publicity.

I have, from the start, provided links on this site to their website but they have not done the same in return!

In his comment he says that he has set up a blog on the Provectus website to address issues raised on this blog. In fact he has merely posted a statement – there is no facility for  public debate or comment. [Click here to see it]

If you feel that I have made the wrong decision and should approve Bryn Hopkinson’s comment (and any further comments from Provectus) post a comment and let me know.


Who is behind the scheme?

The letter in the Provectus newsletter states:

“…Provectus Remidation Limited who have been engaged by a group of local farmers and landowners…”

So far we have not seen anything about these local farmers and landowners who are behind the Hilltop Open Cast Mining scheme.

It’s time we knew who they are. To the best of my knowledge there are 3 of them:

  1. The owner of Hilltop Farm. I don’t know who he is. Does anyone?
  2. Most of the fields are farmed, and I assume owned, by the Marriotts of Woodthorpe Grange Farm on Ashover Road (that’s the one with the milk vending machines at the farm entrance).
  3. The farmer/owner of the northern most field (behind Ashover Road). I don’t have a name. Does anyone know who it is?

Please post a reply if you can correct or update this information.

Opencast Mining Separation Zones

In Scotland, the policy on opencast mining is set out in Scottish Planning Policy (February 2010) which states that surface coal extraction is unlikely to be environmentally acceptable where site boundaries are within 500 metres of the edge of a community apart from in some exceptional circumstances.

In Wales, the policy on opencast mining is set out in Minerals Technical Advice Note 2: Coal (MTAN2) (January 2009) which provides for a 500 metre “buffer zone” between opencast sites and settlements, apart from in some exceptional circumstances.

In England there is no such law!

A Private Members’ Bill (Ballot Bill), Planning (Opencast Mining Separation Zones) Bill 2010-12 sponsored by Andrew Bridgen (MP for North West Leicestershire) was given its first reading in the House of Commons on 30 June 2010. Its 2nd reading on 11 February 2011 ran out of time and was scheduled again on 28 October 2011. The order to read the Bill a second time has lapsed and there is no indication when the Bill will progress further.

[Click here to find out more about this Bill]

Further attempts have been made to get a 500m Separation Zone into the Localism Bill but that too failed.

There is nothing to stop them mining at the bottom of your garden!

Take a look at the site plans published by Provectus – the grid squares are 100m. If England had a 500m Separation Zone none of the proposed site could be open cast mined.

It would be interesting to count how many properties are within 100m, 200m and 500m of the proposed site. (I haven’t had time yet but someone might like to try it.) These figures could give a useful comparison to other open cast planning applications and appeals.

Parish Council meeting

Attended Clay Cross Parish Council meeting this evening.

Pleasantly surprised. Asked when the knew about the Provectus proposal and was told that they had recently made presentations to two of the Councils sub-committees.

Left with the feeling that the were for the most part opposed to the scheme.

Provectus and farmers in for a surprise

In their document ‘Request for a Scoping Opinion by Provectus Group Limited’ lodged with Derbyshire County Council they state:

Recently, Provectus have successfully completed a surface coal mining scheme at the former Biwater Works site, off Market Street, Clay Cross (known as the ‘Biwater Scheme’).

The Biwater scheme was successfully completed this Summer by the Company with minimal disturbance to the local community.’

I think they have rather misjudged the situation if they think Hilltop is going to be that easy.

Biwater, along with most other recent open cast mining in the area, has been a matter of reclaiming and restoring unusable brownfield sites to land fit for development. Local residents could see the benefits and were prepared to put up with short term disruption for longer term gain.

The Hilltop proposal is different.

The site is currently perfectly good agricultural land and at best will be the same after open cast in mining is complete. There is no perceivable benefit to the hundreds of residents with properties in the vicinity of the site – just years of misery from noise, dust, disruption to views, loss of wild life…

The only people to benefit are the landowners and farmers who are hoping for a nice boost to their pension pot and improved drainage thrown in for good measure.

I’m pretty sure that none of them live that close to the site – apart maybe from the owner of Hilltop Farm who is going to move out and let the property to be site offices!

The fields are probably classified as Grade 3 Agricultural Land – for many years they have been successfully used for grazing cattle and and arable crops. The farmers have not had problems ploughing, sowing or harvesting crops – some parts may be a bit soggy at times but it’s nothing a few land drains and maintenance of ditches wouldn’t cure. They could pay for that out of their own pockets and save us all the disruption.

Local Media interest

Well things are certainly starting to happen.

A Derbyshire Times photographer was out in the fields this morning taking pictures for a planned piece in the paper.

An hour later I was contacted by a reporter from The Derbyshire Times and she has just been out to interview me. Wanted to know my thoughts and concerns about the Hilltop Open Cast scheme as I live right on the edge of the site. She said that the paper was likely to do a fairly big piece about it – I assume this week.

The address of this website/blog will be included so I should start to see quite a bit of activity. We’ll be ahead of the developers as their website still consists of just a picture of a large earthmover destroying the landscape – just the sort of image to get us all on their side!

I think the time is probably right to get a local residents Action Group organised – what do you think?

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