11:26 Thursday 02 January 2014

Plans submitted for coal mine changes

Written byROB SMYTH

PLANS for a major extension to an opencast coal mine in North West Leicestershire have officially been lodged.

UK Coal Surface Mining has submitted a planning application to Leicestershire County Council that show the exact details over proposals to extend part of the Minorca Surface Mine site, in Measham to include Measham Fields Farm House and Pig Unit.

The firm is just over a year into an expected four-and-a-half-year mining operation, at the site off Gallows Lane.

It wants to dig out a further 250,000 tonnes of coal from the site, where the county minerals authority approved the extraction of 1.5 million tonnes of coal and fireclay back in June 2011.

A spokesman for UK Coal Surface Mines said: “There is an opportunity to recover a further 250,000 tonnes of coal from within a relatively small area (1.9 hectares) adjacent to the existing 130 hectare site boundary.

“The application includes a restoration scheme which would rebuild the ageing farmhouse that is on the area in question.

“It would not require any extension of the site’s current operational timescale or for any additional materials to be stored above ground. No extra HGV movements would be needed.”

The Minorca Opencast Protest Group (MOPG), formed by residents to oppose the initial scheme, hopes that the proposals will not delay the work on the site and that coaling will cease with the site restored by 2017.

Group secretary Emma Blackham said: “We are not surprised by this proposal.

“We never understood why it was not part of the original planning application.”

A decision is expected in the coming months now plans have been officially submitted.

Leicestershire County Council approved the extraction of 1.5 million tonnes of coal and fireclay in June 2011.

UK Coal pledged to return the site to agricultural land, pay more than £1 million towards the Ashby Canal restoration project and to provide a community fund. County Hall insisted on a ‘restoration bond’ securing payments and more than £20,000 has already been paid into the community fund and £256,000 towards the Ashby Canal restoration.

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