Last week I was one of the objectors who spoke against plans to extract quarter of a million tonnes of coal from Birklands, in the neighbouring ward of Lamesley. A late change in the application saw the route for the lorries change to the A6076 (Stanley Road) and A692 (the main road through the villages in the south of my ward). The route also went through Lobley Hill and on to the A1.
The application has been with the Council since 2011 but the applicant had taken their time to come forward with the information required to reach a decision on their proposals. In that time, we have been campaigning in the areas affected by both the previously planned and the new routes - Kibblesworth, Lobley Hill and Sunniside/Streetgate. A week before the application came before the planning committee, we learnt that the -planning officers were recommending refusal.
At the committee meeting itself, I made the case that the transport route was totally inadequate and would impact severely on local villages and settlements. Interestingly, the officers had not recommended refusal based on the transport route. Instead, they reported that other planning policies would be breached by the application sufficiently to be grounds for rejection.
Once the speakers were finished, the committee members debated the application and sure enough, the biggest discussion was about the transport route. The result was that in addition to the reasons to reject outlined by the officers, members of the committee added inadequate transport route to the list. The application was then rejected.
So, the first battle in the campaign has been won but there are more battles ahead. The applicant has a right of appeal and there is a bigger application at Marley Hill on which a decision is expected in May. So the campaign to stop opencast mining on the doorsteps of our local communities is continuing.