Campaign against Great Oak coal mine plan launched by Bignall End villagers
FAMILIES are protesting against plans to mine coal on their doorsteps.
UK Coal wants to extract 450,000 tonnes of coal over 15 months from a site at Great Oak, Bignall End, near the A500.
It intends to submit formal opencast plans later this year and this week staged three public consultations.
But villagers living near the site have started an action group – Campaign Against Great Oak Opencast (CAGOO) – in a bid to stop the plans going ahead.
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CAGOO chairman Claire Hansbury, aged 32, of Ravens Lane, Bignall End, said: "So many people will be negatively affected by this mine we felt we had to do something to stop it.
"When the land is restored, it will become a brownfield site, which makes it available for further development.
"The mine will re-route public footpaths, create noise pollution, ruin the landscape and potentially create health problems with extra dust in the air.
"The coal will also have to be washed, which means an enormous amount of excess water in our sewers."
Hundreds of people are expected at the next meeting of CAGOO on Monday, when it intends to discuss how to prevent the application being submitted.
UK Coal says the mine will be operational for two years and six months, by which time the land will be restored to its original levels.
It also says up to 60 full-time jobs for local people will be created.
Andrea Martin, of Edward Street, Bignall End, said she is worried about the impact on the landscape.
She said: "Removing all that coal from the site will surely make it possible that the land could sink later on.
"There are badger setts and bats that will be affected by the mine.
"I didn't feel reassured by the consultation because they didn't really answer my questions properly."
Mrs Martin also queried whether UK Coal could re-apply to dig more coal at the end of its proposed period.
UK Coal area planning manager David Green said the scheme was in its 'early days' and the company would ensure 'local views' are incorporated into its application.
"We'll be following up with residents in the coming weeks and arranging visits to an existing site so people can see how we operate," he said.
The next CAGOO meetings are on Monday at 12.30pm and 7pm at The Boughey Arms Pub in Audley. For details call Claire on 07792 221351.