Sheffield community battling coal plan steps up campaign

Protest: Members of Cowley Residents Action Group with Rebecca Taylor and Shaffaq Mohammed.
Protest: Members of Cowley Residents Action Group with Rebecca Taylor and Shaffaq Mohammed.
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RESIDENTS battling plans for a coal cleaning operation on the doorstep of a Sheffield neighbourhood are stepping up their campaign as the decision date draws near.

Members of Cowley Residents Action Group, set up to oppose Doncaster-based Recycoal’s proposal to excavate coal at the former Hesley Wood tip in Chapeltown, have enlisted the help of politicians in their bid to stop the scheme from going ahead.

They believe the plan to remove 395,000 tonnes of coal from the site over five years poses a threat to local wildlife and carries flood risks, and that air quality issues could seriously impact on the health of people living in the area.

The group has collected 5,150 signatures on a petition calling for a full debate at Sheffield Council, but bosses are holding off until the outcome of the planning committee meeting in January.

After gaining support from Yorkshire MEP Godfrey Bloom, they invited Lib Dem colleague Rebecca Taylor and Coun Shaffaq Mohammed, leader of the Sheffield Council’s Lib Dems, to the area to add weight to their campaign.

Rebecca Taylor, Lib Dem MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber, said: “This planning application does not seem to have taken the potential environmental and health impact on local residents seriously enough.

“I am very concerned the development would breach European air quality legislation, one of the main aims of which is to protect human health.

“This looks to me like a short-term scheme, of relatively few advantages, with a great many risks.”

The site is a former slag heap from a nearby coking plant and the last waste was dumped there in 1972. Since then it has become a haven for local wildlife.

Coun Mohammed said: “Having spoken to local residents and seen the site for myself, I can fully understand their concerns.

“The potential impacts on local people’s health - not to mention the destruction of the local environment - are very serious issues that need full consideration of the council.”

Jean Howe, secretary of Cowley Residents Action Group, said: “We are fighting it at every step of the way. There has not been proper consultation.

“We didn’t know anything about it until May. They do not know the real impact this will have on the area.

“How is this worth polluting the environment?

“It feels like the council are trying to put obstacles in our way.”