Minister halts the decision to mine

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 to mine countryside known as ‘DH Lawrence land’ near Trowell.

Mr Pickles has exercised powers under the Town and Country Planning Order to allow him to look into whether he should call in the application for him to determine.

The council’s planning and licensing committee granted permission for UK Coal to extract 1.275m tonnes of coal and 250,000 tonnes of fireclay from a surface mine at Shortwood Farm – the setting of several DH Lawrence novels – at a meeting on December 10.

Cllr Sybil Fielding, chairman of the committee, 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.”

The application to mine the greenbelt land has been extremely controversial with locals concerned about wiping out the local countryside, noise, pollution, and lorries transporting the coal.

Cllr Fielding said mining had been carried out at the site since the 19th Century. She said the project would take place over a five year period with a ‘comprehensive’ restoration plan.

The chairman went on to say she had been reassured by the measures UK Coal planned to put in place and the economic benefits were ‘significant’.

Consent for the mining was 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.

In a letter to the council, the minister made assurances that the matter will be dealt with as quickly as possible and that the council would be informed in writing when consideration was complete.