CONTROVERSIAL plans to allow coal recovery operations on a former colliery waste tip are set to be passed early in the new year, to the horror of campaigners who have fought the scheme.
Doncaster-based Recycoal has drawn up blueprints for the Hesley Wood tip at Chapeltown, north of Sheffield, and members of Sheffield Council are set to debate the idea on January 8.
A special planning meeting has been called, with only the Hesley Wood application on the agenda because of the strength of public feeling which surrounds the idea and the level of objection.
Protesters contend that the tip is at present used as open space by local people and believe the full environmental effects of digging out old coal have not been adequately considered.
Recycoal has carried out several similar operations on colliery waste tips across the country, with its latest on the site of the former pit at Rossington, near Doncaster.
The company claims Hesley Wood has the potential to yields hundreds of thousands of tonnes of usable coal which will be shipped to the region’s power stations, before the site is restored for public use.
Opposition groups have been supported by Yorkshire MEP Rebecca Taylor who visited Hesley Wood shortly before Christmas to see the area affected for herself.
Ms Taylor, a Liberal Democrat, said: “This planning application does not seem to have taken the potential environmental and health impact on local residents seriously enough.
“I am very concerned that the development would breach European air quality legislation, one of the main aims of which is to protect human health.
“This looks to me like a short-term scheme, of relatively few advantages, with a great many risks.”
Colin Taylor, a former member of Sheffield Council and a local Liberal Democrat campaigner in Chapeltown, added: “As a resident of Chapeltown, I share local peoples’ concerns.
“The fact that over 5,000 local residents have signed a petition against this application demonstrates the depth of feelings of the local community and I urge the council to refuse planning permission”.
In papers to be examined by members of Sheffield’s west and north planning and highways committee on January 8, officers reject many of the protesters points and recommend that the operation be approved.
They say: “Overall, the application for coal recovery and restoration has been fully considered and it is determined that the council can ensure that in granting planning permission for the coal recovery process there are no unacceptable adverse impacts.”
The report claims that the plan will not impact the “natural and historic environment or human health, subject to appropriate mitigation measures and conditions”.
Planners say they will impose a Section 106 planning order on the site to endure that it is restored and landscaped for the public when the operation ends.