Villagers are leading protests over the threat of noise and air pollution caused by proposals for a coal heap reclamation scheme near their homes.
The Cowley Residents Action Group - known as CRAG - was set up to inform people in Thorpe Hesley and the surrounding areas what is being planned for Hesley Spoil Heap, next to the M1 at junction 35.
CRAG campaigner Dennis Howe, whose back garden is 50 metres from where work will take place, said: “Earlier this year, we found that a company called RecyCoal had purchased land, known as Hesley spoil heap, the tipping site of the old coking plant.
“The plant has been closed for 30 to 40 years and the site has regenerated well, being taken over by trees, fauna and flora not to mention the wide variety of birds and wildlife.
“The company is proposing to have a coal washing plant within metres of the M1, working 24/7.
“The working day for the diggers and the 30-tonne lorries is from 7am to 7pm, five and a half days a week.
“It is planned to take approximately three to four years to complete the extraction. The total amount of coal to be extracted is 395,000 tons, which is to be sold to the power stations.
“This amount will last a small power station approximately 22 days, and a large power station, such as Drax, approximately 11 days.
“The main concerns of residents are noise and air pollution which will not only affect the Cowley estate and Chapeltown, but will also affect a lot of residents in Thorpe Hesley and surrounding areas.
“They say the dust will be contained within the workings and they will have a water bowser to keep the dust down but it won’t \_ the dust will carry for 100 metres.
“The dangerous part is what you can’t see and is carsinogenic.”
Mr Howe was also sceptical about RecyCoal’s plans to turn the site into a country park, planting some 40,000 trees, adding: “These trees are only going to be 45cm to 60cm tall.”
A spokesman for RecyCoal said: “The project, which has been subjected to a full environmental impact assessment, will deliver real long-term benefits for local people through the provision of a very high quality landscape on completion of the project.
“This will include the creation of 23 hectares of grassland and wetlands, the planting of over 40,000 trees and the construction of footpaths and bridleways to welcome and facilitate legitimate public access.
“The operations will create 35 well-paid jobs, many of which will be recruited locally at a time when the local and national economy needs additional employment.
“RecyCoal accepts there will be some limited short term localised environmental impacts during the operations which it will mitigate and control well within acceptable levels defined in planning guidance.
“RecyCoal believes the long term sustainable benefits gained from the project will far outweigh the minor short-term disturbance during the operations.”
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