DESPERATE campaigners are looking to launch a last-ditch attempt to block plans to excavate coal amid mounting health fears.
Residents of Chapeltown’s Cowley Estate are calling for a judicial review into Sheffield Council’s decision to give plans to dig for 395,000 tonnes of coal at the former Hesley Wood tip the green light.
Earlier this month, a council planning committee agreed to allow Doncaster-based firm RecyCoal to carry out the recovery scheme at the site, despite fierce opposition from people living nearby.
Protesters collected more than 5,000 signatures to show their opposition and medical consultants voiced serious concerns that dust particles could aggravate problems for patients with breathing difficulties.
It has also emerged a letter from Dr Jeremy Wight, director of public health in Sheffield, asking the council to defer the decision, to allow a Health Impact Assessment to be carried out, was ignored.
Cowley Residents Action Group, which formed to fight the plans, is now looking to find a law firm to take on their case, but time is running out.
Jean Howe, CRAG secretary, said: “We believe we have got a case – we’ve already complained to the council’s ombudsman.
“I don’t think we were given a fair chance.
“We’ve had letters from the cardiologist of a woman living close by who said she can’t survive if she carries on living there while this is going on.
“We think the decision was already made before any consultation.
“If the air quality falls, the council could be fined by the EU.”
Recycoal predicts it will take about four years to recover the coal to sell on to power stations, after which it will restore the excavation site to woodland.
Bosses say the work will create about 35 jobs.
Tom Allchurch, RecyCoal chief executive, said: “Our proposed scheme will create a visually appealing and environmentally enhancing alternative to the spoil heap that currently occupies the site and create much needed jobs and economic activity.
“RecyCoal looks forward to delivering the environmental and economic benefits the scheme brings to the community.”
Do you agree with the council’s decision?