Judicial review bid over Sheffield opencast plan

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RESIDENTS battling plans for an opencast coal mine are set to take Sheffield Council to a judicial review over a decision to grant planning permission for the scheme.

Cowley Residents Action Group say they have ‘instructed their legal representatives, Richard Buxton, to instigate legal action’ over the proposals by RecyCoal for the Hesley Wood Spoil Heap at Chapeltown.

A spokeswoman said: “The decision to take legal action is based upon the council’s failure to take full account of the impact of the development on air quality, as Sheffield is an Air Quality Action Zone.

“The council also refused to undertake a Health Impact Assessment, despite this being recommended by the director of public health.

“As of April 1, local authorities have the responsibility for public health and, consequently, health impact assessments are an internal activity for councils.”

The group added that planning permission for a similar scheme, Deanfield at Crofton, West Yorkshire, has been deferred by Wakefield Council until a health assessment has been undertaken.

Richard Buxton, a specialist environment and public law solicitor representing Cowley Residents Action Group, said: “Our clients objected on a number of grounds including the potential impact on air quality.

“In their view, the information provided by the applicant was inadequate to properly assess the impact of these pollutants.”

The council said: “We have received notice from solicitors for Cowley Residents Action Group prior to a possible judicial review into our Hesley Wood decision and we are currently considering our response.”