Mining plan fight goes on

Bretton Hall
Bretton Hall

WAKEFIELD Council is continuing its fight against an opencast mining scheme close to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

The council says the two-and-a-half year mining scheme, could “significantly harm” their plans to invest in the area to create up to 1,000 jobs and build a luxury hotel at Bretton Hall.

A 40-page letter of objection was put before a planning committee yesterday as officers prepared to challenge the application submitted to Kirklees Council.

Last year the sculpture park completed a £500,000 project to restore the historic Bretton lakes and woodland.

But developers Gordon Harrison Ltd plan to extract 190,000 tonnes of coal and 40,000 tonnes of fireclay from a 10.5-hectare site off Litherop Lane, Clayton West.

And in the letter of objection, Wakefield Council’s service director for planning Ian Thomson said the plan would ruin the “unique” setting of the YSP, which attracts 350,000 visitors and generates about £5m a year for the city’s economy.

Mr Thomson said the scheme would cause a loss of green belt land.

Deputy council leader Coun Denise Jeffery said it could also make the area less appealing to investors.

She said: “If these proposals are allowed then the significant investment made in the YSP over the last 35 years will be devalued and longer term investment may not come, which would be damaging to long-term growth and jobs in the area.”

Mark Barrett, of Silkstone Environmental Ltd which represents the developers, said that the site was 1km away from Bretton Hall and that elevated areas would block the view.

He also said it would create 24 jobs.

He said: “The land will be restored to agriculture and we’ll be planting hedgerows, building a bridleway and trying to attract wildlife. Within three or four years you won’t be able to tell there was an opencast mine.”

Kirklees Council have not said when a decision will be made on the application.