RESIDENTS have nothing to fear from a new open-cast mine, a businessman has said.

Gordon Harrison wants to extract thousands of tonnes of coal and clay from fields off Litherop Lane in Clayton West.

And he says fears over dust from the site are unfounded.

Musician Phil Maybury – who was a semi-finalist in the 2009/2010 UK Songwriting Contest – is worried about the effect of the open-cast mine near his home.

The 56-year-old has spent the past 10 years fighting back from chest problems which have restricted his singing.

“I’ve just reached a point where my breathing is at last stable and I can begin to look forward to public performances again after many years,” he said.

“My fear is that my breathing will get worse again because of the particulates put into the air so close to where I live. If the scheme goes ahead I think I may have to leave the area.”

Gordon Harrison Ltd will ask Kirklees Council for permission to extract 200,000 tonnes of coal and 100,000 tonnes of clay from the site over a two-and-a-half year period.

But the owner of the earth-moving business told the Examiner yesterday that the mine would not endanger villagers.

Mr Harrison said: “There’s no evidence that the dust will be an issue. We will put dust-monitoring equipment on site and we will monitor the situation daily.

“The site is probably a mile-and-a- half from Clayton West and the prevailing wind goes towards High Hoyland.

“Dust will not be a problem at all.”

Mr Harrison added that his company had an excellent safety record.

“I’ve been in the large-scale earth-moving and open-cast mining business for 30 years,” he said.

“At the peak of our operation we employed 200 people and extracted a million tonnes of coal a year, yet we’ve only ever had one accident.”

Mr Harrison bought the land next to the former Park Mill Colliery 15 years ago.

He said: “We didn’t pursue an extraction plan because of the climate but I think circumstances have changed a little bit.”

Gordon Harrison Ltd is hosting an open evening about the plan at Scissett Working Men’s Club from 4pm to 8pm tonight.

Mr Harrison said: “We thought it was right to let local people know what we plan to do before submitting the planning application. We want their opinions before we put the plan in.”

The development would create 12 jobs.

“We would look to employ as many local people as possible,” said Mr Harrison.

He added that the site would be improved after the coal and clay had been extracted.

“One of the fields would be given over to wildflowers and we will also put a bridleway in,” he said.