Minister steps in on Shortwood farm fiasco

Shortwood Farm mining plan
Shortwood Farm mining plan

Local Government Minister Eric Pickles has instructed Nottinghamshire County Council not to complete the granting of planning permission for a new surface mine in south-west Nottinghamshire.

Mr Pickles has exercised powers under Article 25 of the Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) Order to allow him to look into whether he should call in the application for him to determine.

The Council was informed of the Minister’s decision on December 23.

The Council’s Planning and Licensing Committee resolved to grant permission for UK Coal to extract an estimated 1.275m tonnes of coal and 250,000 tonnes of fireclay from a new surface mine at Shortwood, between the villages of Cossall and Trowell, at its meeting on 10 December.

However, consent is subject to a number of matters being included in a legal agreement - including the creation of community fund to support local projects, bridleway repairs, road junction improvements and a structural survey of the Bennerley Viaduct - all to be funded by UK Coal.

Work was underway on preparing the legal agreements before the Minister’s intervention.

Councillor Sybil Fielding, Chairman of Planning and Licensing at Nottinghamshire County Council, said: “I respect the Minister’s decision to take a look at the Shortwood application and it will be interesting to see his conclusions.

“The application was examined in great detail by our planning team and their expert advice was that there were no material planning reasons to refuse permission.

“All members of the Committee had sympathy with residents near to the site, but we had to weigh up the benefits alongside the potential for disruption. If the Committee decides to refuse any application, it has to be confident that there are sound planning reasons for doing so - and on this occasion, that wasn’t the case.

“Mining coal, both from underground and the surface, has been carried out at and near the site since the 19th century. The permission allows mining to take place for a set period of less than five years and contains a comprehensive restoration plan which will have long term benefits for the environment.

“I was reassured by the measures UK Coal are planning to put into place to mitigate against potential dust and noise issues at the site, measures which had been used at a similar site they operate in Derbyshire which we visited prior to making our decision.

“The economic benefits of the proposal are also significant. It will directly create 56 new jobs, in addition to providing opportunities for local suppliers. The coal produced would be used to generate power for local homes and businesses by the nearby Ratcliffe on Soar power station, which currently imports most of its coal supplies from abroad.”

In his letter, the Minister assured the County Council that the matter will be dealt with as quickly as possible and that the Council would be informed in writing when consideration was complete.