COMMUNITIES Secretary Eric Pickles (pictured) ordered a public inquiry yesterday into the failure of plans to build an opencast coal quarry at a Yorkshire beauty spot.
Sharlston colliery outside Wakefield once employed 1,000 miners but was shut by the Tories in the final swathe of vicious pit closures in 1994, leaving millions of tons of reserves abandoned.
Private firm UK Coal recently applied for planning permission to develop an opencast coal mine — a huge quarry — near the site of the pit-head to exploit a shallow coal seam.
But Wakefield District Council threw out the application even though officials had recommended its acceptance.
“This is 138 hectares of beautiful farming land that they are proposing to dig up, it’s a beauty spot,” said George Balaam, of Sharlston Parish Council and campaign group Stop Opencast at Sharlston.
UK coal intends to mine 1.14 million tons of coal and up to 98,000 tons of fireclay.
The firm appealed to Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles for a public inquiry.
He agreed and the inquiry is expected to be held early next year.
Mick Appleyard worked at Sharlston colliery up to its closure and was a National Union of Mineworkers official. He still lives in the community.
“They closed our pit and wrecked our community. Now they plan to destroy our landscape,” he said.