We first met Andrew Bridgen MP (Con) in my posting headed Whitwick Action Group (this blog, 8 September 2010).
To his credit, Mr Bridgen has been a strong and forthright supporter of that group, which campaigns to save green land in his constituency from inappropriate development.
Clearly our lad has a bit of a green streak, as now he returns to our attention with a Private Member`s Bill aimed at reducing the impact of open cast mining operations on local residents.
His bill aims to introduce a 500 metre buffer zone between opencast sites and areas of settlement, which would bring England into line with Scotland and Wales, where such measures are already in place.
He has the beginnings of cross-party support, with an endorsement from Labour`s Sir Peter Soulsby MP, and has attracted other allies in the form of environmental campaigners Minorca Opencast Protest Group ( see article `Private Members Bill to Set Light to a Smouldering Controversy` - Steve Leary, http://www.indymedia.org.uk/ , 29 June 2010 ) and Friends of the Earth (`MPs Join Up For Open-Cast Fight` - David Owen, http://www.thisisleicestershire.co.uk/ , 22 July 2010 ). Further details can be found in an unsigned article, `MP in Crusade for Buffer Zones Around Mine Sites` at http://www.thisisderbyshire.co.uk/ , 7 July 2010).
North West Leicestershire District Council recently refused permission for further open-cast mining in Mr Bridgen`s constituency (see `Opencast Mining Plan Near Leicestershire Village is Rejected a Second Time` - David Owen, http://www.thisisleicestershire.co.uk/ 8 Seotember 2010 ), however, he and his supporters would do well to study events in the Shipley/Smalley area of Derbyshire, where UK Coal now run the opencast Lodge House Mine.
In 2007/8, UK Coal were refused permission by the local authority for opencast mining in the Bells Lane area between Shipley Country Park and Smalley Village, but central government over-ruled this decision. The issue was deeply divisive locally, with splits between those who saw the chance of more jobs in an area with a long mining tradition, and those who objected on environmental grounds. Further divisions arose amongst the `no` lobby, between objectors who favoured conventional lobbying and advocates of direct action, some of whom occupied a derelict building on the proposed site for a time.
Eventually, the mine went ahead, and now UK Coal are applying for permission to extend their operations in the area. There are objections from (so far) Shipley Parish Council, Smalley Action Group, Amber Valley and Erewash Environmental Network and Greenpeace.
Further info on the Derbyshire issue ;
Chris Mallett - Battle Cry Over Plan for Huge Extension to UK Coal Operation (??/9/10)
Catherine Oakes - Open Cast Mine Protestors are Gearing up for `Round Two` (27/9/10)
both of these to be found at http://www.thisisderbyshire.co.uk/ . A number of further articles on the issue have appeaed subsequently.