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Good News for Anti Opencasters Bad news for UK Coal

Steve Leary | 26.11.2010 15:04 | Climate Chaos | Ecology | Energy Crisis | Birmingham | Sheffield

Our latest Press Release contains more good news for the Minorca Opencast Protest Group (MOPG)and more bad news for UK Coal plc as the fight to stop a new opencast application continues is now published as Pr 85 'Campaigners resistance to opencast mine proposals hears encouraging news from MP'. It also contains the results of MOPG's 2010 AGM.

MOPG Pr 85, 26/11/10


Andrew Bridgen MP, in his role as Guest Speaker at the 2nd Annual General Meeting of the Minorca Opencast Protest Group (MOPG) held last night in Measham, praised the Group for its efforts in maintaining its campaign to oppose the Application to operate an Opencast Mine on the Minorca site. He also confirmed the news that the Coalition Government was to pass legislation that devolved future planning decisions away from Central Government down to Counties and Districts. In addition he said the opinion of Parish Councils would become more significant in such decision making processes. This would all become clearer when the Government’s new ‘Localism’ Bill began its progress through Parliament. However, as the Bill progressed through Parliament, he advised MOPG that should the decision on Minorca still be outstanding, we should argue that since local representative bodies, North West Leicester District Council and the Parish Councils of Measham, Swepstone and Snarestone were all opposed to this Application, then increasing importance should be attached to their opinions by Leicestershire County Council when it came to determining the outcome of this proposal.

Andrew also reported on the progress that his own Private Member’s Bill to introduce a 500 Metre Buffer zone was making. A significant number of MP’s from all parties had already indicated support for the Bill. The Surface Mining Coal Industry, led by UK Coal plc, was sufficiently alarmed to have already have lobbied the Minister concerned on this issue. This Bill is due to get its Second Reading on February 11th next year. If it passes this stage in the legislative process, then this too would become another issue that Leicestershire County Council would have to take account of when making a decision on the Minorca Application if a decision was still outstanding by that date.

At the meeting the outgoing Acting Chair, Phil Owen, in his Chairman’s Report highlighted the successes of the Campaign during the last year from submitting a new robust set of objections to UK Coal’s 2nd set of application documents, a set of Recommended Conditions if permission was granted. In addition, he drew attention to the numerous Reports, Briefing Notes, continuous media interest including exposure for the Campaign on BBC’s Countryfile programme as a consequence of producing our Press Releases and having our own web sites that the Campaign had achieved. He thanked Joanna Crane, Margaret Hanson, Lina Guyan, Denise Mulka, Sue Morrell, Terry Morrell and Mark Tromans for all the work that they had put in during the year as Co ordinating Committee members. Special thanks were given to Steve Leary for his activities as Researcher and Spokesperson during the past year.

Elections were held to form a new Coordinating Committee. The results were:
Chairperson Terry Morrell
Secretary Sue Morrell
Treasure Margaret Hanson
Membership Secretary Maz Priestland

Other Members of the Coordinating Committee were elected as follows:

Joanna Crane, Penny Wakefield, Alan Gamble and Steve Leary
It was also agreed to extend an invitation to any Parish Council opposed to the application to send a representative to future meetings of the Coordinating Committee.

The meeting also agreed to send a donation to the Residents Against Greenbelt Exploitation in recognition of the costs involved in them achieving their tremendous result in defeating the Newton Lane Opencast Mine Application at the recent Public Inquiry in Leeds.

The Meeting also heard that UK Coal may face new financial problems as they have had to close the Kellingley Colliery on Tuesday because of a Methane Gas scare. Given that this pit alone produces 25% of the Company’s coal, its closure would not help UK Coal’s plans to pay off its debts of over£260m.

Steve Leary advised the members that this incident reinforced the need for Leicestershire County Council to insist on a Bankers Guarantee to underwrite UK Coal’s promises to restore the Ashby Canal and provide Community Grants should they gain Planning Permission. It was agreed that MOPG should write to the Ashby Canal Trust, the Ashby Canal Association and to the Measham and Ashby Canal Trust Enthusiasts to join with MOPG to insist on such a Condition should the closure of Kellingley Pit be prolonged.


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