A long-awaited inquiry into plans to create an opencast mine on a Derbyshire farm will begin later this month.
The application - by Provectus Remediation Ltd - involves a proposal to mine on land at Hilltop Farm in Clay Cross.
The company says it wants to remove 175,000 tonnes of coal over three to four years, digging a hole up to 100ft deep.
However, campaigners who have been fighting a long battle against the plan say a mine so close to houses, schools, care homes and doctors’ surgeries would be dangerous.
Chairman of the Hilltop Campaign Group, John Gregory, said: “These proposals are not about the reclamation and restoration of contaminated industrial land as the site is currently perfectly good farm land bordered by oak woodland and criss-crossed by mature hedgerows which are a haven for wildlife.
“This is exploitation of a greenfield site for the financial gain of a few with no benefit to local communities.”
This mine will be of no benefit to local communities.John Gregory
The company says the development has been prepared to ‘minimise the potential for adverse environmental impacts’.
But the campaign group claims there are currently around 1,300 homes within 500 metres of the site - something which is prohibited by law in Scotland and Wales.
It adds that ‘expert opinion’ says fine dust particles can be harmful to human health up to five kilometres away.
The application is also opposed by Derbyshire County Council, North East Derbyshire District Council, local parish councils, Tupton High School and property developer St Modwen.
The company first announced plans to develop the site in a leaflet sent round to residents in April 2012.
The Hilltop Action Group was formed just one month later. The inquiry begins at 10am on Tuesday, November 28 at the Donut Creative Arts Studio on Springbank Road in Chesterfield.
It is scheduled to take 10 days, not including weekends, and will not normally take place on Mondays.
It means the last day of the inquiry will probably be on Wednesday, December 13.
Full details of the proposal can be found on Derbyshire County Council’s website.
For more information on the campaign group, click here.