Wednesday, February 4, 2015

News: Appeal over Maltby pit plans refusal

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Hargreaves is appealing against enforcement action authorised by Rotherham Council after revised plans to import tonnes of material to the mothballed Maltby pit site were refused.

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.

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 nearby Hatfield Colliery 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 plans were amended and the new proposal related 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 the 2.25 million tonnes of material originally proposed.

The council's planning officers recommended that the plans be approved but members of the planning board at Rotherham Council went against the recommendations of its own planners and voted to refuse revised plans.

The board believe that the importation of material represents inappropriate development in the Green Belt, as it does not relate to the material produced from the Maltby Colliery, and that the HGV vehicle movements resulting from the development are detrimental to the amenity of residents living along the route from the M18 motorway to the site.

After the decision was made in December, enforcement action was authorised, and the operators were ordered to stop importing MRF to the site.

The developer submitted an appeal in respect of the enforcement notice served as a consequence of the council's refusal of this application for planning permission. Minutes from the subsequent planning board stated that "Members asked that the Maltby Town Council be notified of these issues and of the continuation of the importation of materials to this site, pending the outcome of the appeal."

Between April 2013 and August 2014 some 345,000 tonnes of material was deposited in the huge lagoon at Maltby which was due to be filled as part of the multimillion pound restoration of the site. The future restoration scheme is "subject to some uncertainty" as the underground workings came to a premature end.

Buildings have been demolished and the mine shafts have been filled and capped. 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.

Images: MJ Hickey Ltd

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