Tuesday, May 24, 2016

News: A million tonnes for Maltby Colliery's six year restoration

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The restoration of Maltby Colliery in Rotherham is expected to take over six years and could include the importation of 1.32 million tonnes of material.

Rothbiz reported in February that new plans were being developed for the restoration of the mothballed Maltby pit site. The 200 hectare colliery was mined for over 100 years until geological conditions could not be overcome and underground operations ceased in 2013.

It had been expected to continue coal production until 2025 but owners and operators, Hargreaves decided to mothball the mine following no viable alternative solution being found to geological reports that indicated that the risks associated with mining a new panel, called T125, had not significantly reduced and that the panel was not viable on health and safety, geological, and financial grounds.

The winding tower was brought down in 2014 and the mine shafts have been filled and capped. With the sudden closure, the future restoration scheme, included in the planning permission for the mine's operation, is being re-examined.

On behalf of Hargreaves Maltby Limited, consultants at Signet Planning have now submitted new detailed planning documents to Rotherham Council outlining the scheme.

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The plans state: "The Reclamation Scheme will be carried out over a six year and six month period, with cut and fill operations, the import of 1.32 million tonnes of suitable fill material and 150,000 tonnes of soil making materials and restoration of the former colliery tip to beneficial after-uses, including amenity grassland, agriculture, public access and nature conservation enhancement, and temporary ancillary and associated activities and the export of the residual stocks of mineral involving up to 65,000 tonnes of coal fines and 20,000 tonnes of deep mined coal to market."

Planning permission was refused last year for the importation of hundreds of thousands of tonnes of MRF - a fine slurry-like material which is formed during the washing and reclamation of coal fines (tiny coal particles).

The lagoons need to be filled and tip areas need to be lowered. The site is set to be treated with grass seeding, tree planting, ditching, fencing and the creation of paths, "which will result in an appropriate and productive landform with a range of habitat types and uses including amenity grassland, agriculture, public access and nature conservation."

It is set to include 19.8 hectares of new native broadleaved woodland and scrub; 23.1 hectares of neutral grassland with wildflowers; 47.2 hectares of amenity grassland and/or biomass; and 3.6 kilometres of new public access routes linking with the wider rights of way network.

The site sits within the borough's Green Belt and the majority of the Maltby site is being put forward through the Local Plan 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."
Work is set to start in the south west, nearest to Maltby, then proceeding to the north and then north east. The planning permission would allow for up to 300,000 tonnes per annum to be imported from a variety of sources over a five year and seven month period. The maximum quantity of fill required to achieve the proposed landform through recovery is estimated to be a total 1,320,000 tonnes - a worst case scenario for the relative density of the imported fill material.

Mostly brought to site by road, the possibility of using the rail sidings to import material is discussed. The plans add: "The number of vehicles which could be added to the local highway network would remain small, involving an assumed worst case of five to six HGV arrivals per hour (or ten to 12 HGV movements)."

Consultees have reacted largely positively to the initial plans but council officers are waiting on a more detailed Transport Assessment before commenting on the potential impact on the road network.

It is anticipated that the fill material to be imported will "typically be inert and non-hazardous wastes such as construction and demolition arisings."

Around 20 jobs would be created as the six phase restoration is scheduled to start in September 2016 after the remaining coal is exported. This figure would reduce to 14 jobs after the first six months.

The plans admit that local residents will experience some disturbance from the reclamation scheme but add that it will provide longer term benefits to the quality of life for residents and visitors. They conclude: "The reclamation scheme which has been prepared represents a safe, sustainable and appropriate proposal. The restoration proposals incorporate ecological, landscape and recreational enhancement measures which will contribute to the quality of life in the locality of the former colliery."
The former colliery pit yard is set to be retained for another five years following restoration. 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.

The restoration scheme is to be funded by Hargreaves. Previous external funding schemes used to regenerate colliery sites at Dinnington and Manvers have disappeared. Hargreaves intends to use the proceeds from the exported coal, and "gate fee" revenue from imported material to help fund the restoration.

The Durham firm recently announced that it was scaling back its coal business as part of a restructure plan aimed at growing revenue from transport, property and renewable energy.

Hargreaves website

Images: Hargreaves / Signet Planning

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