Shortwwod Farm Opencast: Do We Need the Coal

Tagged as: climate_action environmentalism local_communities
Neighbourhoods: and ausworth broxtowe cossall trowell

A press release from the Loose Anti Opencast Network outlines the content of an objection to the proposed Shortwood Farm opencast mine. 



LAON PR 2012-13                                                                16/11/12


In an objection to the proposal to develop a quarry to take out 1.25m tonnes of coal from the Shortwood  Farm site, the Loose Anti Opencast Network  (LAON) make the following points:

<!--[if !supportLists]-->·        <!--[endif]-->By the end of 2016, six heavily polluting power stations which were using coal to produce electricity will be closed. This is equal to a third of the UK’s coal burning generating capacity. These power stations are Ferrybridge (Yorkshire), Ironbridge (Shropshire) Cockenzie (nr Edinburgh), Kingsnorth (Kent), Tilbury (Essex) and Didcot (Oxfordshire)

<!--[if !supportLists]-->·        <!--[endif]-->It is now Government policy for the foreseeable future to phase out the use of coal for power generation purposes

<!--[if !supportLists]-->·        <!--[endif]-->It is also now Government policy to use a new subsidy system to encourage the remaining coal burning power stations to be switched  to burning biomass. As a consequence, Tilbury Power Station has already been converted to burning biomass, Ironbridge is to be converted. In addition, half of the UK’s biggest power station, Drax (Yorkshire)is to be converted by 2017 and another large power station Eggborough (Goole on Humberside) is also to be converted.

<!--[if !supportLists]-->·        <!--[endif]-->New Department of Energy and Climate change figures predict what the consequence of these changes will be for on the demand for coal for power generation purposes in the UK until 2030. In 2011 the UK used over 40.5m tonnes of coal. By 2017, the date by when coal extraction on the Shortwood site is most likely to finish if planning permission was granted anytime soon, demand is expected to have fallen to 26.6m tonnes, a drop of about 34%.

The use of coal for power generation purposes is becoming history and for the foreseeable future this trend will continue as Power Generating companies continue to reduce the country’s capacity to burn coal.

In addition, the objection points out how easy it is to import coal.

“ All the years of disturbance and nuisance local people will suffer could be avoided if 10 loads of 130,000 tonnes of coal could, instead, be unloaded in Immingham and transported by a far more environmentally friendly method of transport, rail, to the power stations where it is needed.

This would also mean that the current generation of residents would not have to wait for 25 years before the site began to look mature, assuming that this was in fact a 5 year ‘Green to Green’ proposal, with no submission of a future plan to extend the site.”

Steve Leary, who wrote the submission, is the Co-ordinator of the Loose Anti Opencast Network. Earlier this year he shared a platform with Anna Soubry MP at the two public meetings held to discuss UK Coal’s plans to develop the Shortwood Farm site as an opencast mine.

He commented

“ We in LAON have been working with members of the Shortwood Farm Opencast Opposition group in their campaign to moblise local people to oppose this application. The new evidence LAON has presented shows why coal for power generation purposes is becoming history. The simple question which Nottinghamshire County Councillors face is knowing that this is the case, is 10 shiploads of coal worth saving local people from  5 years of disturbance plus innumerable traffic movements by road, if account is also taken of journeys made by employees and suppliers servicing the site in addition to the known estimated heavy lorry movements.  This is a stark choice that the Planning Authority has to take. The case being put here is that protecting local people from the loss of amenity caused by working this site, if permission is given, is worth 10 shiploads of coal, especially when the use of coal is becoming history.

LAON also has to alert local people to another threat which may impinge on the decision about Shortwood Farm. Currently, the Government is seeking further changes in the planning system that might make it easier for proposals such as Shortwood Farm to gain planning permission. In the Growth and Infrastructure Bill currently before Parliament, Clause 21 will give the Secretary Of State power to define certain developments as ‘Major Infrastructure Projects’ . If quarrying and surface mining are so defined, as some commentators think is possible,  then the decision will be made by means of a Public Inquiry and not by the local planning authority, thus making it far more difficult for local people to object to such proposals. So far The Government has refused to define what it means by ‘Major Infrastructure Projects’. It would be deeply ironic if the surface mining of coal was so defined in view of the predicted decline in the use of coal.for power generation purposes”

The Shortwood Opencast Opposition group can be contacted via

About LAON

The Loose Anti-Opencast Network (LAON) has been in existence since 2009. It functions as a medium through which to oppose open cast mine applications. At present LAON links individuals and groups in N Ireland (Just Say No to Lignite), Scotland (Coal Action Scotland), Wales (Green Valleys Alliance, The Merthyr Tydfil Anti Opencast Campaign), England, (Coal Action Network), Northumberland, (Whittonstall Action Group, Halton Lea Gate Residents)) Co Durham (Pont Valley Network), Leeds, Sheffield (Cowley Residents Action Group), Kirklees, (Skelmansthorpe Action Group)  Nottinghamshire (Shortwood Farm Opencast Opposition), Derbyshire (West Hallum Environment Group, Smalley Action Group and Hilltop Action Group) , Leicestershire (Minorca Opencast Protest Group) and Walsall (Alumwell Action Group).

Contacting LAON

Steve Leary LAON’Ss Co-ordinator, at

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