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Right a Wrong in British Planning Law

Steve Leary | 11.01.2011 16:44 | Climate Chaos | Energy Crisis | Birmingham | Sheffield

This MOPG's latest Press Release emphasises a different aspect of the argument as to why Communities in England should benefit from a 500m Buffer Zone law. It shows how many areas of England could be prone to opencast mining because local communities, unlike those in Scotland and Wales do not benefit from having a 500m Buffer Zone policy in operation.

MOPG PR 90 10/1/11

The 500m Buffer Zone Bill is needed to ‘Right a Wrong’ in British Planning Law

A new study into the extent of Opencast Mining in England has revealed that there are communities in England, from Shropshire up to Northumberland and from Greater Manchester down to Leicestershire who have currently experienced the effects of opencast coal mining over the period 2009 -2010. Of the 13 sites named in the report 2 were in a derelict state and 11 were being worked. All of these were approved before 2009. Many of these sites saw vigorous opposition to the original planning proposal.
The study, Part One of the study “English Opencast Coal Sites 2009 -2010: Current Sites” also reports that in the last two years a further 7 sites were approved, often in the face of fierce local opposition. It also shows where applications have been rejected mainly because of campaigns organised by local people in St Helens, Northumberland and Leeds.

However Part One of the study also indicates that a further 8 applications are making their way through the planning process in different parts of England, in Co Durham, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Northumberland (4 sites) and Nottinghamshire. All these applications are meeting opposition from locally formed groups.

All these groups who oppose these opencast applications in England realise that they face a handicap in mounting their opposition that is not faced by similar groups opposing such applications in Scotland and Wales. In Scotland and Wales, local communities are, to a degree, protected from having to fight such applications because their national planning policy has introduced a need for a 500m Buffer Zone between Areas of Settlement and an opencast site. In England, local communities have no such protection.

Now a Leicestershire MP has proposed a Private Member’s Bill, which, if passed in this long parliamentary session, will right this wrong. It will provide a level playing field between Scotland, Wales and England on which decisions about opencast coal mining can be made. Andrew Bridgen’s “Planning (Opencast Mining Separation Zone) Bill”, better known as the “500m Buffer Zone Bill” is due to get its 2nd Reading on Friday February 11th. For the groups currently opposing known current and possible new applications the protection cannot come soon enough.
To further reinforce the case for why communities across the Midlands and Northern England need this level of protection, Part Two of the study “English Opencast Coal Site 2009 -2010: Potential Sites” indicates a further 34 sites where it is believed opencast planning applications could be made.

One of the conclusions of the study is that

“ Very often, given that today’s communities are less and less likely to be composed of people knowledgeable about the local history of coal mining, it comes as a shock to be informed about the prospect of facing an opencast mine application. As can be seen from the information contained here, such communities who oppose opencast proposals begin a long hard complicated fight. Of those cited at the planning stage in the review, Bradley now holds the record of taking the longest time whilst waiting for a decision. Local people in Co Durham will have been waiting for nearly 31/2 years for a decision before they know if they will have to live next door to an opencast mine or not – about the same length of time UK Coal plan to work the site!! Meanwhile they suffer from planning blight whilst they wait for forces beyond their control to make a decision”.
The group who published the study, The Minorca Opencast Protest Group in Leicestershire, have themselves been waiting for over 3 years for a decision to be made on the Minorca Surface Mine. They are especially asking for people living in all communities who are currently being, or could be affected by opencast mining, to write to their own MP and urge them to support the 500m Buffer Zone Bill. They would also appreciate any other concerned person or organisation writing to their MP in support of the Bill as well.

A copy of the study plus other information about the Planning (Opencast Mining Separation Zone) Bill can be downloaded for free from


Constituency Office: 6 Elford Street, Ashby de la Zouch, Leicestershire, LE65 1HH, Tel 01530 417736


Parliamentary Assistant: Andrew Woodman Email:

tel 05601 767981, email
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Steve Leary
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