Hundreds join protest march to stop opencast mine at Bignall End
HUNDREDS of protesters marched through the countryside to continue their fight against “immoral” plans for an opencast mine near their homes.
They walked from Audley Community Centre in protest at UK Coal’s plans for the land at Great Oak, Bignall End.
Their protest included a minute’s silence overlooking the earmarked opencast site where dozens of miners had decades earlier died in a colliery disaster.
Now the Campaign Against Great Oak Opencast (CAGOO) is to start a series of fund-raisers to pay for the expert lawyers needed to strengthen their fight.
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They also hope the Coalition Government will adopt regulations already in place in Scotland which stop any opencast mining developments within 500 metres of houses.
Group chairman Claire Hansbury, aged 32, of Raven’s Lane, Bignall End, said: “We will carry on campaigning and the next stage will be to raise money to pay for legal consultants and the costs associated with printing leaflets.
“We will fight to stop this and hopefully soon our Government will implement what has already been done in Scotland.
“We wanted to do the march so we could carry on raising as much awareness as we can about the immoral proposals and demonstrate the strength of feeling.”
More than 300 placard-waving residents took part in Saturday’s protest.
They held the minute’s silence at the John Wedgwood memorial, in fields off Audley Road.
Campaigners have raised concerns that the development may potentially disturb the bodies of dozens of miners killed in the 1895 Diglake disaster who are still trapped underground.
Judith Edgeley’s great-great grandfather William Roberts, of Chapel Street, Audley, was killed in the disaster.
Judith, aged 47, of Red Street, Chesterton, who works as a site technician, said: “I don’t think UK Coal should go anywhere near the site.
“My great-great grandfather, who we believe was about 42 at the time, is with about 40 other men and we think their bodies are closer to the surface.”
UK Coal hopes to extract 450,000 tonnes of coal from the site over a 15-month period.
It is understood the mine will be operational for two years and six months, and the land will be restored to its original levels.
The firm is expected to submit a planning application to Staffordshire County Council next month.
Tony Adair, aged 66, of Miles Green, who is the district footpath secretary for the Newcastle branch of the Ramblers Association, said: “There are two footpaths which run through the area and both will be lost.
“I will be contacting the Ramblers Association to discuss how I can register an objection to this.”
Retired council worker Derrick Bate, aged 70, of Rileys Way, Bignall End, added: “There has been enough mining in this area – enough is enough.”