BRADLEY PUBLIC INQUIRY: THE TWENTY SIX YEAR QUESTION
In their evidence to the Public Inquiry, UK Coal state that it will take three years and six months to complete the task of preparing the site, working the coal and restoring the site, implying that this small length of time is the only time that local people will be affected by the development.
The Loose Anti Opencast Network (LAON) disagrees. In their set of objections submitted to the Inspector for the forthcoming Public Inquiry LAON suggests that a period of about 26 / 27 years represents a more realistic assessment of the time that local residents will affected by this planning proposal if it is approved.
This is because already local people around the proposed Bradley Surface Mine coal site have been affected by years of planning blight, a fact recently acknowledged by the Government, ever since UK Coal first announced their intention, seven years ago, to seek this planning permission. To this has to be added the time it will take the Planning Inspector to announce her decision. If she upholds the Appeal, then LAON suggests that it might not be until the spring of 2017 that soil stripping can start because of the time it takes to sort out Section 106 Agreements and meet the planning conditions that have been agreed to – in all over nine years of suffering planning blight, even before work on the site begins.
Coal extraction and the immediate restoration of the site would then come next. This is the short period of time UK Coal claim the local area will be affected, by the development, another three years and six months. This makes a total of twelve years so far. By then the top soil will have been replaced.
Then, for the scars of the opencast mining to disappear and for the landscape to again look mature, LAON, in keeping with the plan to then manage part of the site for a further fifteen years put forwards by UK Coal suggest that a further fifteen years needs to added to the total, making 26 / 27 years in all.
Steve Leary, LAON’s spokesperson, who will be speaking at the Public Inquiry, commented:
“In our experience, UK Coal has always underestimated the length of time that their developments have an impact on the lives of local residents. Having now recently gained an acknowledgement from the Government that, from the date the Applicant makes public their intention of applying for permission to opencast a site, the area within 500m of the proposed boundary of that site suffers from planning blight, we are for the first time asking that the Planning Inspector considers this as a negative factor when weighing up whether to reject the appeal.
“In addition UK Coal never mention the time it takes from when they get planning permission to when they start soil stripping, which can take up to two years, into account. We are now asking the Planning Inspector, for the first time, to consider this factor as a cause of more planning blight.
“For good measure, we have also asked that she considers the time it will take for the site to blend back into the local landscape, fifteen years we suggest, as well.
“When you add this all up the real magnitude that the impact that this development will have on local people becomes clear , not the three years and six months UK Coal claim, but a period over seven times as long, 26 years. This LAON believe, is too heavy a price for local people to pay and we hope to convince the Planning Inspector that this is the case.”
A full copy of LAON’s objections and a summary of LAON’s objections can be downloaded from this page on the Pont Valley Network side @ http://www.pontvalleynet.co.uk/
NOTE FOR EDITORS
This is the second of a number of press releases LAON will be issuing in the lead up to the Public Inquiry which will explain different parts of LAON’s set of objections.
INFORMATION ABOUT THE PONT VALLEY NETWORK
The Pont Valley Network is group of diverse individuals with varied experiences and backgrounds. We understand that as people we don’t always communicate with each other that well. We might disagree or agree with each other for many reasons but we share one thing in common:
We all live or have lived and care for Pont Burn Valley. We recognise its unique heritage and natural beauty and are prepared to work hard to preserve it.
This is a link to their website @ http://www.pontvalleynet.co.uk/
The contact person for the Pont Valley Network is David Marrs @ firstname.lastname@example.org
INFORMATION ABOUT THE LOOSE ANTI OPENCAST NETWORK
The Loose Anti-Opencast Network (LAON) has been in existence since 2009. It is a UK and Northern Ireland wide network of 30 local community groups opposed to local opencast mine proposals / operations. It functions as a medium through which to oppose open cast mine applications and works with groups where local people feel that such a development is inappropriate.
Steve Leary, LAON’s Spokesperson, at info[at]email@example.com
You can now follow LAON on twitter @ http://twitter.com/seftonchase