Page last updated at 08:37 GMT, Tuesday, 8 April 2008 09:37 UK

Farmer loses cows to mine shafts

One of the holes
Mr Roberts said 15 cows had died after falling into the holes

A Shropshire farmer says he has lost 15 cattle after they fell into mine shafts on his land and died.

Jim Roberts, who has farmed in Little Wenlock for 40 years, said he lost 12 heifers and three bulls when the ground opened up under their hooves.

He rents the land from UK Coal and is backing plans to turn it back into a mine, saying it is the only safe thing to do with it.

Some local residents are campaigning against the plans.

They say they are concerned about the extra noise and dust a mine would create.

'Safety grounds'

UK Coal has submitted planning proposals to extract 900,000 tonnes of coal over five years.

If the plans go ahead Mr Roberts will lose the grazing land but gain some fallow land.

He said: "I don't want it in front of my house, but practically and simply on safety grounds I think it should be done.

"I am frightened that one day a kid on a horse will come along and the ground will drop in and the kid will disappear."

Telford and Wrekin Council should reach a decision on the planning proposal later this year.

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