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Clayton West mining plan set to divide the community

Cash donations split opinion of villagers amid bid to build new library and sports centre

Christopher Ward, chairman of Parkgate Sports and Community Trust, pictured on the site of the proposed Denby Dale Sports and Community Centre, Skelmanthorpe.

A plan for open cast mining near Clayton West looks set to divide the community.

As reported last week, Wakefield firm Gordon Harrison Ltd has re-submitted its plan to extract 190,000 tonnes of coal and 40,000 tones of fireclay from land off Litherop Lane.

The plan was rejected by Kirklees Council in 2013 after planners ruled it would be detrimental to the green belt.

The applicant has now made a second attempt with revisions on its plan, including increased cash donations to two local groups, Parkgate Sports and Community Trust Ltd, who are building the Dearne Valley Sports Village at Skelmanthorpe and the Denby Dale Community Project, who are building a new library.

The groups have been offered £40,000 each as part of the section 106 agreement if the plan is approved.

But campaigners from Skelmanthorpe Community Action Network (SCAN) and Save Our Scissett (SOS) remain opposed to the proposal that they thought they had already defeated.

SCAN spokeswoman, Helen France, said she couldn’t understand how the application could proceed after it was rejected last time.

“The money is a paltry amount,” she said. “It’s a disgrace.”

“£80,000 to the community is nowhere near meeting the requirements set out in planning policy.

“£40,000 is a drop in the ocean for what the sports village needs.”

Mrs France said the SCAN committee was meeting to discuss its next steps but they were encouraging people to object to the plan.

She said: “They say it will only be for two-and-a-half years but it will take decades before it grows back and can be used again.

“We don’t believe that there will be no noise or dust and we think there’s a huge potential for the mining to release foul water that’s trapped underground.

“That would end up in the River Dearne and Bretton Park lakes, which is why Wakefield Council objected last time.”

The applicant has also dropped plans to mine on Saturdays and says it will reduce the number of lorries coming and going from the site, close to the Bretton Park estate.

Mrs France added: “Yes there’s fewer lorries but they’re bigger ones and they would have to swing out into the traffic on Wakefield Road to turn in and out of Litherop Lane.

“We think it’s dangerous.”

But former member of Skelmanthorpe Community Action Group, Christopher Ward, now executive chairman of Parkgate Sports and Community Trust Ltd, said the cash was badly needed to provide sports facilities for the village.

The Dearne Valley Sports Village is set to offer a 23 acre state of the art, sports and community facility at Skelmanthorpe.

He said: “Once completed and in operation it will re-invest its year end surplus funds back in to Kirklees through its major partner Kirklees Active Leisure.

“Apart from the current badly needed facilities, with Skelmanthorpe Junior Football Club with its 16 teams and Emley Moor Amateur Rugby League Football Club 7 teams, the advent of a circa further 300 plus new homes in the area over the next few years increases the pressure for health giving sports and community activities.

“A criticism from local community action groups is that in accepting Section 106 funding, projects such as the Denby Dale library, and the Dearne Valley Sports Village encourages developers to build more houses.

“Whereas the truth and reality of the matter is that once the political process has agreed and decreed that developments take place, the Section 106 finance is in the public domain.

“Those who are endeavouring to improve and develop the community infrastructure, and the wellbeing of the community at large, are duty bound to apply and obtain a share of the funding for the benefit of the community they serve.”

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