‘Coal site will ruin our health’

Strong Opposition: Members of the Clay Cross community turned out in force at the Holmgate Community Centre to show their opposition to the proposal to begin open cast mining in the area.
Strong Opposition: Members of the Clay Cross community turned out in force at the Holmgate Community Centre to show their opposition to the proposal to begin open cast mining in the area.

HUNDREDS of residents showed their concern at plans to extract 175,000 tonnes of coal on land near thousands of homes, at a meeting held by an opposition group.

The packed meeting, held by Hilltop Action Group at Holmgate Community Centre last Friday, highlighted fears over the planned 30 hectare opencasting site, off the A61 Derby Road between Old Tupton and Clay Cross Library.

The group – formed by representatives from the affected communities of Clay Cross, Holmgate and Tupton – spoke of worries over pollution from the 66 hour-a-week operation, traffic and noise. They also raised fears over the threat to wildlife and the rural nature of the area.

Group member, John Kidd, of Ashover Road, said: “More than half the site boundary adjoins the back gardens of houses. 1300 dwellings are within 500 metres of the edge of the site, a distance which would prevent it starting up in Wales and Scotland, but not in England.”

He added: “The dust and exhaust fumes will increase the incidence of asthma and other diseases in residents living close to the site or downwind of it. Children attending local schools will also be affected. Noise from the site will be intrusive and damaging, and will continue through the night.”

Residents were asked to help by writing letters, displaying posters and volunteering to join the Hilltop Action Group Committee which will plan future action.

Bryn Hopkinson, consultant to Provectus who are planning the three-year extraction on the land, owned by Hilltop Farm, said: “We mailed about 2000 people about our plans and we are really hoping that all of those that can, whether in favour or against, will come along to our public exhibitions to join in the discussion about the way forward, particularly the community benefits. And don’t forget, this will create jobs.”

Provectus will be holding public exhibitions from 10 am to 7 pm at Clay Cross Social Centre on Friday, May 25 and Holmgate Social Centre on Saturday, May 26.

The Hilltop Action Group website can be found at www.HilltopProject.com