Monday, December 8, 2014

News: Maltby pit plans set for approval

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Revised plans to import tonnes of material to the mothballed Maltby pit site in Rotherham from nearby Hatfield Colliery are being recommended for approval, subject to a number of conditions.

The 500 acre colliery at Maltby was mined for over 100 years until geological conditions could not be overcome and underground operations ceased in 2013. Owners, Hargreaves Services continued to provide management services and support from Maltby to Hatfield Colliery in Doncaster.

A planning application was submitted in September to Rotherham Council by Maltby Colliery Ltd (Hargreaves) to allow for 450,000 tonnes of mine runoff fines, known as MRF, to be transported each year from Hatfield and deposited in the current lagoon at Maltby. MRF is a fine slurry-like material which is formed during the washing and reclamation of coal fines (tiny coal particles). It made up much of the 1.4m tonne landslip at Hatfield in February 2013 and without anywhere to deposit the MRF, the mine would eventually close.

The temporary period covered already begun in April 2013 and the lagoon was due to be filled anyway as part of the colliery's restoration plan. The permission would have equated to a total potential import of 2.25 million tonnes of material but after a recent public meeting, further discussions held with Rotherham Council and approval granted for an additional spoil tip Hatfield, the Maltby plans have been amended.

The proposal now relates to the importation of material up until October 2015, with a maximum import level of 275,000 for the remaining year of operations. Up until the end of October 2014, a total of approximately 400,000 tonnes of MRF had already been deposited at Maltby. This would result in a total of up to 675,000 tonnes, considerably less than originally proposed.

Nearby residents have already raised concerns over the height of the tip, the possibility of landslips, and the impact on the highways of the estimated 60 HGV movements per day.

Despite operating as a colliery, the site is within the green belt and very special circumstances have to demonstrated in order for planning permission to be granted. Planners were satisfied and are recommending to members of the planning board that permission be granted as the operation is only temporary, material would have been collected from the mining operation at Maltby anyway, the deposits will assist with the wider future restoration of the site, and the reduced total amount will have "no discernible visual effect."

A report to the planning board concludes: "In summary, it is considered that very special circumstances exist to justify the harm to the Green Belt by reason of inappropriateness, and the other harm associated with the proposal. It is not considered that the traffic created would be detrimental in highway safety terms, whilst in terms of noise, dust, and pollution issues these matters have been concluded to be within acceptable parameters."

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.

In the final draft of the council's Local Plan the majority of the Maltby site is being put forward as remaining in the green belt with a pocket of development, which includes the pit yard, associated buildings and access, not considered suitable for a business park with offices or industrial units but instead used for "for waste and energy activities."

Images: Network Rail

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