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Another Set of Objections ignored by UK Coal

Steve Leary | 30.09.2010 10:02 | Climate Chaos | Ecology | Energy Crisis | Birmingham | Sheffield

This press release explains MOPG's 4th set of Objections which criticises UK Coal's assessment of the alleged economic and social benefits associated with the proposed Minorca Surface Mines and makes the claim that our campaign has extracted an extra £1m of proposed local 'benefits'. This represents the price UK is willing to pay rather than answer our objections.

PR 82 30/9/10


UK Coal was asked by Leicestershire County Council to address the impact that the Minorca Surface Mine would have on the local community and the local economy. They duly included a ‘Socio – Economic’ assessment of the expected impact that this mine would have in their 2009 submission.

The Minorca Opencast Protest Group, in their first submission of objections in September 2009, argued that this part of the application did not provide evidence to support their conclusions from their own Socio- Economic assessment.

In answer to UK Coal’s Socio – Economic assessment MOPG concluded that:

1) “Using essentially brown field sites as a baseline to compare with Minorca an essentially greenfield site is inappropriate. In the former situation economic and amenity value can be added to the land on restoration as a consequence of working the coal. This is not the case with Minorca. These arguments should be disregarded.”

2) ”The economic benefit claimed by allowing this development we have shown to be exaggerated. Therefore the economic multiplier effects, claimed as a consequence in the Socio-Economic Assessment, are over stated.”

3) “ Evidence about the success in changes in local employment MOPG argues, are due to the regeneration strategies implemented in the local area which have been aimed at restructuring the local economy away from being coal based and not with working alongside coal.”

4) “That UK Coal’s interpretation of Government Guidance on the preference that should be given to applications that would restore derelict land or stabilise unstable ground do not apply to the Minorca Application and should be disregarded.”

5) “That UK Coal’s interpretation of Government Guidance that is used to support their claims on the need for this coal, their ‘mutually supportive ‘ argument and their ‘blending’ argument are proved to have been incorrect interpretations of Government Guidance and should be disregarded.”

However UK Coal has again completely ignored these objections in their new 2010 submission. Therefore MOPG is resubmitting these objections and adding these two updates.

“MOPG would argue that it is essential that a Minerals Company honours its obligations to restore an ex mineral site as soon as possible after its original use has expired to avoid blighting the local neighbourhood. In the case of the Lounge site near Ashby, also owned by UK Coal plc this is not the case. Its use as a mineral site ended in 2004 and it should have been restored in 2005. However, despite a Public Inquiry and the serving of an Enforcement Notice UK Coal were, earlier this year, proving to be less than co-operative in working with Leicestershire County Council to restore a site which the Company advertise as a ‘brown field’ site. Site restoration will now not start until 2011, six years after it should have been completed. If the same pattern of events was to occur on the proposed Minorca site after the coal had been extracted, which is much closer to residential areas and houses that the Lounge site is it would blight the area for many years. The evidence provided by this Company’s own intransigence over not restoring the Lounge site, shows that this risk is only too real.”


“MOPG now have further evidence to support our claim in Point 3 that changes in local employment have been driven by the development of a successful regeneration strategy aimed at restructuring the local economy away from being coal based and not with working alongside coal. This came with the publication of the 2010 Annual Report of the National Forest Company. This report claimed that since the inception of the National Forest as part of this economic regeneration exercise it had created over 4,400 tourist related jobs, 10% since 2003 and that this initiative benefited the local economy to the tune of £287m per annum. The development of a new opencast mine on a green field site in a rural part of the National Forest will not, in the short to medium term in the light of this evidence about the success of the regeneration strategy pursued so far, contribute further economic benefit, Rather MOPG contend it will, in the short to medium term threaten the success of this regeneration strategy.”

Steve Leary for MOPG said

“On its own this application would run counter to all the effort that has been put into this area over the last 20 years to develop a sustainable local non coal based economy. MOPG proved in its first set of submission documents how weak UK Coal’s case was on this issue. Their response has been twofold. Firstly to totally ignore our arguments, a ploy which they are very adroit at using on all the objections MOPG has raised, thereby hoping that no one else will notice the strength of our arguments.

Their second response has been to try a silence any opposition by offering a huge ‘bribe’ (the word of the individual promoting the petition in favour of restoring the Ashby Canal) worth over £1.28m to ‘drown out’ any opposition to their plans.
MOPG has been, it seems, too successful at opposing UK Coal’s Planning Application for its own good. The amount of money being offered is, in UK Coal’s words, ‘unprecedented’. They were afraid that our campaign would be successful at preventing this application so rather than submit new evidence that would prove us wrong in our analysis, they have put this money on the table to help engineer a lobby in favour of the application. This sum of money is equal to £1.14 per tonne of coal extracted rather than the normal 10p tonne that is on offer elsewhere, at the proposed Lodge House Extension in Derbyshire for example. MOPG can rightfully claim that it has made UK Coal so afraid that its application would be rejected that it has upped its offer by at least £1,000,000 – that is the minimum size of the ‘bribe’.

Local residents who have been stalwartly opposing this application now face the prospect of being exploited on all fronts if this application goes through. Their efforts to oppose the application have now resulted in this attempt to buy support rather than deal with our objections. They will suffer planning blight for an unknown number of years by UK Coal and gain no credit from having, by their own efforts, created this sum of money in the first place if this planning application is accepted by Leicestershire County Council on October 15th.

As UK Coal has not dealt with this set of objections, not those already published to do with traffic, economic viability / saleability and air quality / dust, MOPG has no choice but to continue to object as these specific objections, along with others that we have yet to publish, have not been answered and no amount of money will buy our silence and no amount of money will make our objections invalid.“

This is the fourth of MOPG’s objections published so far. You can read the rest at:

The Minorca Surface Mine Application is due to be heard at a meeting of Leicestershire County Council’s Development Control and Regulatory Board on Friday October 15th.



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