Page last updated at 15:48 GMT, Friday, 11 February 2011

MP calls for buffer zone between opencast mines and homes

A 500-metre "buffer zone" between opencast mines and homes would go some way in trying to halt the "devastating" effects of extraction on communities and wildlife, a Conservative MP has claimed.

During a private member's bill debate on 11 February 2011, Andrew Bridgen called on ministers to introduce new guidance on planning policy for opencast mining in England.

The North West Leicestershire MP said the increasing number of opencast mines being worked across the country often led to misery for local residents and hindered efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

Presenting his Planning (Opencast Mining Separation Zones) Bill in the Commons Mr Bridgen said he wanted to "bring protection to communities, not just in north-west Leicestershire, but in dozens of constituencies in former coalfields throughout the country".

There are 29 opencast sites in England that are either operational, had received planning permission or were in the "planning pipeline", he told MPs, and a further 34 sites across the country could be developed in the near future.

It was time to stop the "intrusive, defacing vandalism of our countryside", he argued.

The creation of 500-metre zones were already of part of planning guidance in Scotland and Wales, he claimed, questioning why residents in England were not awarded the same protection.

Shadow communities and local government minister Jack Dromey backed the bill, saying it "rightly addresses issues of real concern to communities all over Britain".

It did not have the support of the government, however, and time ran out before second reading could be completed.

This means the bill stands little chance of making further progress.

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