Tuesday, October 14, 2014

News: Maltby's future as energy and waste site

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Whilst former coalfields in Rotherham have been transformed into thriving business locations, enterprise zones, retail parks and new communities, Maltby's future use looks set to address the pressing needs of energy and waste.

The previous economic growth cycle saw large parts of the Dearne Valley reclaimed for business developments, housing and leisure; Dinnington reclaimed as business parks and greenspace; and the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) at Waverley makes the former Orgreave coking works seem a distant memory.

The site of the former Maltby Colliery, where 100 years of underground working ended in 2013, is unlikely to see a similar transformation after council planners determined that most of it should stay in the greenbelt and that a 24 hectare site containing existing development is not an "appropriate location for general industrial or business use development."

Consultation has begun on the final draft of the borough's Sites and Policies document as the council finalises its local plan. A total of 42 proposed development sites have been identified through reviews and surveys as the council aims to meet the demand for land needed over the next 15 years to meet the broad requirements of 12 - 15,000 additional jobs.

The Maltby site is some 200 hectares in total and lies within the greenbelt. The council had considered removing the whole area, including spoil heap, from the greenbelt or limiting the loss to the greenbelt by removing a section between the railway line and main road to allow for redevelopment.

The preferred option is to limit any loss of greenbelt to the built part of the colliery. "It is acknowledged that this forms a pocket of development; however it is considered that this approach allows re-use of the site given its exceptional circumstances (the rail head and national grid connections)."

The pocket of development, which includes the pit yard, associated buildings and access, is not considered suitable for a business park with offices or industrial units but instead used for "for waste and energy activities."

The latest planning documents state: "The Council is keen to ensure that effective use is made of this site given its existing rail and national grid connections. However acknowledging its location and site context a limited number of uses are proposed to be acceptable on the site.

"Whilst this is a good size site, specific suitable uses have been identified; given its location (to the east of Maltby) and characteristics it is not considered an appropriate location for general industrial or business use development.

"Uses related to waste, energy and composting are likely to be needed within the plan period and making provision for these on a site which has historically seen non-confirming / bad neighbour uses is considered appropriate."

The surveys show that the landowner, Hargreaves, is seeking alternative uses which could come forward in six to ten years. The mine shafts have been filled and capped and the immediate future of the site is as Maltby Energy Park, with operator Alkane Energy generating energy from the coal mine methane assets for an estimated period of up to 15 years.

Egdon Resources, a leading player in shale gas exploration, recently acquired the interest in the current licence to explore for the controversial energy source at Maltby.

Images: Hargreaves Logistics

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