Open cast mine at Bignall End 'will ruin children's play area'
ANGRY families say controversial plans to set up an open cast mine will mean their children will no longer be able to use a popular play park.
UK Coal has lodged plans to extract 450,000 tonnes of coal from a site at Great Oak, Bignall End, over 15 months.
But unhappy residents have launched a campaign to fight the plan, which they claim will 'decimate' a children's play area, which sits just 100 metres away from the site.
The parents fear that heavy industrial vehicles, noise and dust will mean the youngsters will have to stay indoors or play elsewhere.
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Audley and Bignall End councillor Ann Beech is a member of the newly-formed Campaign Against Great Oak Opencast.
She said: "We are really disgusted because this open cast mine will be right next to the children's play area. The whole village really are against it.
"There will be dust and heavy machinery. I am sure they will put fencing up but you know what children are like – it won't be safe."
Claire Hansbury, aged 32, of Ravens Lane, Bignall End, has a son, William Barnish, who is almost two.
She said: "We use the park and playing field and the other park at Deans Lane, and the public rights of way through the proposed site.
"We take the dogs on bridal paths and we won't be able to use any if it goes ahead.
"If this goes ahead I wouldn't dare take my son to the park. You could have a land slide. There could be risks from flying rock, which can travel from a long way.
"I don't want to bring my child up in those conditions, with all the dust."
The residents are now preparing to set up a petition and march in protest against the plans.
They have already raised concerns about the site of the mine – which will lie on the same land where the 1895 Diglake colliery disaster left some 40 men trapped underground.
Three bodies were later brought to the surface, but the rest have never been found. exhumed.
The protestors said plans to reopen the mine would be like 'digging up a graveyard.'
Pensioner, Len Taylor, of Bignall End Road, whose grandfather John Taylor was one of the miners who died in the disaster at the age of 40, said: "We are all against it and for many reasons. It is disrespectful towards the miners and their families. It will destroy the countryside, harm the play park and change the area forever."
UK Coal, is in the final stages of a public consultation before they are expected to submit plans to begin the project.
The residents have arranged a peaceful protest on Tuesday, which they hope will attract hundreds of people.
UK Coal has insisted that the mine will have minimal impact on the wider community.
Spokesman Andrew Mackintosh said: "We are absolutely sensitive to the issues regarding this planning application. There are lots of myths, but health and safety is our top priority. We work very hard with people locally."