Tag Archives: Open cast mining

Good News

Some Good News

We are not the only group in the country fighting opencast mining plans. In the last few weeks we have heard of two sites that are not going ahead:

  • The Liquidators of UK Coal Surface Mining have now informed Staffordshire County Council that they are withdrawing their application to opencast on the Great Oak site near Bignall End
  • A victory against the Marley Hill surface mine proposal (on the Gateshead / Co Durham boundary). Gateshead originally approved the application, but Co Durham refused permission and the Durham Case Officer says that there is not going to be an appeal.

Not all developers manage to get their applications passed so there is hope for us yet.

The February Derbyshire County Council Planning meeting has now been and gone and the Hilltop Farm scheme was not on the agenda. The next scheduled planning meeting is on Monday 9 March so we’ll wait to hear if it makes that one.



On Thursday 29 January 2015 there was a debate in the House of Commons about the restoration of open-cast coal sites. Our local MP made an impassioned contribution, citing the mess left behind by Maximus on the old Biwater site.

The full transcript of her speech is given below. (Taken from Hansard, the official record of House of Commons Debates)

Natascha Engel (North East Derbyshire) (Lab): I hope to speak for much less than six minutes, because I have only one and a half examples to cite, although I want to ask the Minister some very specific questions about them.

I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Bridgend (Mrs Moon) for initiating the debate, because it is very important. It concerns a legacy in coalfield areas that already contain some of the most deprived communities in the country. To be hit again after all these years makes things even worse for those communities.

I want to talk about a 204-acre site near Clay Cross, which was very toxic. An exciting plan was submitted by a company called Maximus, which proposed not just to restore the site, but to excavate the coal and build 1,000 new homes, as well as sports fields and changing rooms for which there was a large amount of section 106 money. People were very excited because there would be plenty of affordable homes. However, after the coal had been extracted, not 1,000 but 100 very high-end houses were built and sold for a great deal of money, and then the company went into voluntary administration. About 200 of the 204 acres are still uncapped, and the site is an enormous eyesore. Grey shingle has just been left on the ground, and, because the site is very high up, it is very visible from every angle.

To add insult to injury, the company—under a different name, Provectus—moved a mere few metres down the road to the neighbouring village of Tupton, and submitted another planning application for a very similar development. It will take ages for that application to be put together. The local residents, all of whom live very close to the site, are aware of it. Derbyshire county council is in a terrible bind, because it is having to spend a lot of time and money on offices and lawyers. The company itself is much wealthier than the residents. Meanwhile, house prices have dropped, people cannot move, and they are very worried about an increase in traffic. There is a 2,000-pupil secondary school right on the doorstep. People are very worried about this. Once the planning application goes to the county council, even if it overturns it the applicants will appeal, and it will go to the national Planning Inspectorate and the chances are that it will be overturned.

That would disregard the feelings of local people, and it does not take into account what these people have done only metres down the road. I want to know from the Minister what can be done to stop these people, who can only be called cowboys. They are going to do exactly what they have done in Clay Cross in Tupton. This is a big issue for local residents, and they are really worried about it.

As the right hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Sir Alan Beith) just said, we are looking at other sites beyond our borders and seeing what is happening there. It is very alarming to hear what is happening in Wales, and this pattern is being replicated up and down the country. The worst thing about it is that it is the people who are living on the doorstep who are having to suffer all the air pollution, the lorry-loads and everything else. And who ends up paying for capping off those open-cast sites? It is the local taxpayers. I would therefore like to know what the Minister is planning to do about this.

(Contains Parliamentary information licensed under the Open Parliament Licence v3.0.)

More Objections Submitted

We have submitted four more objection documents to the planning authority today.

  • Geological and Hydrogeological issues
  • Inconsistent and missing drawings
  • Water Attenuation Lagoons and Water Discharge
  • Public Rights of Way

The full text of these objections can be found under Hilltop Action Group Objections in the menu on the left.

We hope to get more sent in before the official deadline for submissions on Friday 12 December 2014.

Have you sent in your objection yet?

Don’t forget, the more personal objections that are sent in, the better our chances of getting this scheme stopped.

For advice on writing your objection and how to send it in click on WRITING YOUR OBJECTION in the menu on the left.


A group of sterling volunteers is visiting every house within 1km of the Hilltop Site to collect signatures on a petition to be sent to the planning department.

The Derbyshire Times

There was another article in The Derbyshire Times this week in which Natascha Engel MP expresses her opposition to the plans and gives her support to the campaign to get it stopped.

Don’t forget to use the Have your say page to leave your comments 


We have just submitted our fourth objection.

The noise from a fleet of heavy plant working twelve hours a day within 50m of some houses and always within 500m of a residential property will be intrusive and definitely unwanted.

  • The Hilltop Action Group objection covers the following topics:
  • Interpretation of National Planning Policy Framework Guidance
  • Choice and suitability of Noise Sensitive Properties
  • Relevance of planning decisions offered as precedents
  • Northern haul road at entrance to processing area
  • Effect of noise on neighbouring communities
  • Effect of weather on noise propagation

This planning application by Provectus Remediation Ltd clearly breaches the guidelines as the anticipated noise levels are environmentally unacceptable. Furthermore, no national, local or community benefits have been demonstrated which would clearly outweigh the likely impacts.

On the grounds of unacceptable noise levels alone this application does not justify the grant of planning permission.

You can read the full details of the objection here or by selecting it in the Objections menu.

Don’t forget to use the Have your say page to leave your comments

Public Meetings

The two public meetings on Friday and Saturday were well supported by local residents who came along to find out how they could submit their own objections to the Hilltop Opencasting Scheme.

Local Parish, District and County Councillors expressed their unreserved opposition to the proposals and support for the Hilltop Action Group campaign.

Natascha Engel (MP for NE Derbyshire) has expressed her support for our campaign. She is holding a meeting on Wednesday 19 November 2014 at 7.30pm in Clay Cross Social Centre to tell us why she is against the proposals.

Come along to listen to what she has to say. Hilltop Action Group will be there to give an update on the campaign

Derbyshire Times & Provectus Exhibitions

We’re in the Derbyshire Times again. Click here to read the article.

In the article Bryn Hopkinson, consultant to Provectus who are planning the three-year extraction on the land, owned by Hilltop Farm, said:

“We mailed about 2000 people about our plans and we are really hoping that all of those that can, whether in favour or against, will come along to our public exhibitions to join in the discussion about the way forward, particularly the community benefits. And don’t forget, this will create jobs.”

So, lets all turn up and see how much of a discussion he is prepared to have.

I wonder what ‘community benefits‘ he has in mind that will compensate us for at least three years of noise, dust, pollution, damage to health, destruction of the landscape, damage to wildlife, increased HGV traffic and loss in value of our homes.

It will also be interesting to see how many jobs he thinks it will create.

After you’ve been to the exhibition post your thoughts about what he has to say on the Have your say page.

New Provectus statement

I see that Mr Hopkinson of Provectus has added a new statement to their website. Notice it is no longer called a blog as he is not prepared to accept open comment and discussion! Once again we appear to be calling the tune – everything is a reaction to what we are saying – there is nothing new from Provectus.

In his piece, Mr Hopkinson uses the phrase ‘…allegedly contained within the formal Provectus proposal to Derbyshire County Council…’ when referring to the words ‘proposed extension’ and ‘proposed extension area’ which I had quoted. There is nothing ‘alleged’ about them – they are there in black and white in the Provectus documents. I agree they appear to make no sense but this is due to his mistake not mine. As Provectus have submitted erroneous documents then it is up to them to sort it out with the planning authority.

Interestingly Mr Hopkinson seems to make rather a lot of sloppy mistakes. When he contacted me via the website on 3 May he correctly referred to me as Mr Gregory, yesterday for some unknown reason he called me Mr Garrett!

Good to know that the other two sites he has his eyes on are not around here, but not so sure the folks in Nottinghamshire will be as happy.

He goes on to address the concerns we have voiced on the flyer for tonight’s meeting. I will respond to his comments as follows:

  1. Noise – any noise produced by the Hilltop Opencast Project is more noise regardless of statutory limits. We like the peace and quiet.
  2. Landfill/Waste Disposal – they’re taking 175,000 tonnes of coal out, so they must be going to bring 175,000 tonnes of something back in or leave a big hole.
  3. House values – Nominal house values will probably not be greatly affected but they will be unsalable. Anyone who wants or needs to move in the next 5 or 6 years will find it very difficult without drastically reducing their selling price. As for an enhanced green environment, I find that very hard to believe. We all know that the contours of land reclaimed after opencasting are never natural but usually flat and featureless. Hedgerows may be replaced but will take many years to mature. Large trees, like the ones that will have to be removed to make way for the coal processing area, will take nigh on a hundred years to mature. Wild life will be driven away by the noise and dust and take many years to return.
  4. Traffic – The A61 is a major concern as this is regularly congested through Clay Cross. All lorries will use the Royal Oak roundabout which is a busy crossing point for pupils going to and from Tupton Hall School. We have yet to hear where the lorries will go having reached the Royal Oak roundabout. Indeed the Scoping Opinion in response to the Provectus proposal states ‘The Highway Authority considers the details of the proposed lorry routing to be inaccurate.’ 10 vehicle movements a day? One Provectus document gives a maximum of 20 loads per day. That’s 20 in and 20 out plus a matching number at some time to refill the hole – I make that 80.
  5. Dust/Pollution – as with noise, any dust or pollution produced by the Hilltop Opencast Project is more dust and pollution regardless of statutory limits. Talk to anyone who has lived near to an opencast site and they will tell you that despite regulations and monitoring dust and pollution is horrendous.