PROTESTERS have lost a battle to stop a coal reclamation firm which plans to dig up a former colliery and coking works spoil heap in a four-year operation.
People who live in Chapeltown, north of Sheffield, mounted a determined campaign to halt the scheme, drawn up by Doncaster-based Recycoal, which says it will extract almost 400,000 tonnes of coal from the site.
The Cowley Residents Action Group (CRAG) was set up by people who live on a neighbouring housing estate to fight the plans, but council officers effectively ignored all their objections.
Local councillors and the MP Angela Smith also appealed to the authority to take note of possible health risks associated with the scheme, and Sheffield’s director of public health Dr Jeremy Wight also expressed concerns.
Chris Sumner, who lives close to the site, yesterday said residents were “disappointed but not surprised” at the approval.
He added: “We are not sure where to go from here, but we are meeting on Monday to discuss what we do next. I think some people are taking legal advice over the health risks.”
Recycoal has carried out similar operations elsewhere in the region, including at Grimethorpe, near Barnsley, and recently started work on the spoil heap at the former Rossington pit, near Doncaster.
Plans show that the land would be “restored” by the company once reclamation is over before being opened up to the public.
The company said its scheme would create around 35 jobs in the area, and its chief executive Tom Allchurch, said he was “delighted” that councillors had approved the application.
He added: “Our proposed scheme will create a visually appealing and environmentally enhancing alternative to the spoil heap that currently occupies the site and create much needed jobs and economic activity.
“Recycoal looks forward to delivering the environmental and economic benefits the scheme brings to the local community.”