Anger as firm set to drill for coal
A firm is set to explore further coal reserves on the edge of a controversial opencast mine, it has emerged.
UK Coal has been granted an exploratory drilling licence by the Coal Authority to investigate reserves immediately north of its Minorca surface mine site, in north west Leicestershire.
It comes within weeks of diggers, trucks and other heavy machinery moving onto the 321-acre former Minorca colliery site, between Measham, Swepstone and Snarestone, to begin work on a mining scheme.
Campaigners who last year lost their battle to prevent the firm's plans to mine 1.5 million tonnes of coal and fireclay at the site are angry at the latest development.
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Measham resident Steve Leary, who found out about the licence after carrying out research, said: "The exploratory drilling licence application was submitted on March 28 – two months before a mine liaison committee was formed to keep residents informed of developments.
"The liaison group has met twice since but has not been informed of the licence and what it might mean for the future of the Minorca site."
UK Coal promised to return the site to agricultural land at the end of the mine's five-year life.
Mr Leary said: "The new site even has a name – Minorca North – with the implication being that it will be an extension of the current mine.
"While UK Coal was portraying itself as a 'good neighbour' in the community, the company had already taken steps to undermine its claims and put at risk its agreement to fully restore the site within five years."
Swepstone resident Nick Maskrey Brown, chairman of the Minorca Liaison Committee, which also includes senior UK Coal officials, said: "I am very disappointed and angry that UK Coal didn't come to talk to us about this application and we had to find out about it by other means."
UK Coal spokesman Chris Crouch said: "The exploratory work is just that – exploratory – and part of ongoing work to assess coal reserves at a number of sites in the Midlands and Yorkshire.
"All we are doing is investigating whether there is coal there or not.
"The community liaison committee is for Minorca and this will have no impact at all on the current scheme."