LAON has identified another problem with the planning framework governing opencast coal applications: proposals for restoration are being made which are dependent on the profitability of coal sales, yet – with coal prices now below breakeven levels – councillors are not able to establish that the proposed mining is unlikely to be profitable because this question is not a material consideration in deciding a planning application.
The issue has arisen in connection with a scheme about to be considered next Tuesday (7t h July) for another 164,000 tonnes of coal and 50,000 tonnes of brickshale to be extracted from the existing Potland Burn site near Ashington, Northumberland. Read the full LAON press release here.
Steve Leary for the Loose Anti Opencast Network said:
“This application highlights a deeply flawed aspect of the way planning policies with regard to coal operate in the UK. Given the current depressed state of the coal price, to use the argument that any profits to come from further coal extraction should be used to increase the degree of site restoration does at first glance, sound sensible. However, if there can be no questioning of whether any profits will be forthcoming, it leaves the planning decision to approve this application, as an act of faith. Sound planning indeed!”