I am sending you this letter to express my disappointment at Wakefield Council’s decision to grant planning permission for a drift mine in New Crofton.
The site is currently well used by walkers, dog walkers, bird watchers and cyclists, both from the local community and wider afield. Over Easter large family groups of cyclists were using the site.
This is because it is part of the WoW (Wonders of Wakefield) cycle trail. It is great for cyclists because the site is free of motorised traffic and is very much safer than cycling on the roads.
If Wakefield Council is really serious about encouraging cycling, this is exactly the type of cycle trail they should be protecting and providing more of. Now it appears as though these amenities will be lost to the local community for more than 20 years.
The counter-argument used by supporters of the mine is that the local community will receive £10m donated by the mine over the course of its life, to be used for local amenities.
I am sorry, but this is moonshine. The mine’s ability to give the local community half a million pounds a year, every year for 20 years, depends on it being a commercial success and no one can predict how the market for coal is going to be over that period.
The worst thing about the mine will be the HGVs. Crofton High Street is already overloaded with traffic.
The new housing estates at Priory Ridge and Bedford Farm are only going to make things worse, before you start adding HGVs into the mix. Crofton High Street is home to Crofton Academy, attended by hundreds of pupils. In the near future it will be adding a sixth form, bringing more pupils and traffic to the High Street.
Over the road there is a row of shops, a chemist, and slightly up the road Crofton Infants School.
A few more yards and there is a very popular Sainsburys Local. All of these attract more traffic. A hundred yards away from the Academy on Slack Lane, there is Slack Lane Junior School; at the bottom of Harrison Hill there is Shay Lane Junior and Infants school.
At times (especially school opening and letting out) the High Street is chaotic. People park everywhere. This is already a narrow road, made narrower by the traffic calming pinch points and parked cars.
Please note, from the mini-roundabout beyond Sainsbury’s, past the schools to the bottom of Harrison Hill, the road has already been traffic calmed.
Putting speed humps all over Crofton, as Coun Albert Manifield seemed to suggest recently in the Wakefield Express, is pointless. Also, stopping the HGVs from using the road at school times is made more complicated by the fact that nursery pupils go home at a different time to the Academy pupils.
The backers of the mine want it to be open from six in the morning to ten at night. They mention eight lorries, but not how many journeys those lorries will be making per day. There is no way that sending HGVs up that road is not dangerous. This isn’t the M1 we are talking about, it’s an ordinary village high street.
I am not against coal mining. My grandfathers and uncles were all miners. But the alleged economic benefits to Crofton of this scheme seem very ill-defined to me.
There are just short of 6,000 people in Crofton, 99% of whom will receive no benefit whatsoever from this mine. 25 ‘maybe’ jobs don’t begin to make up for the negative effects on everyone else.