A Consultation on a Super-pit at Hawkhurst Moor Farm

Promotional Leaflet for potential Super-pit at Hawkhurst Moor. Proposed site for the waste from the super-pit
Records deposited by the National Coal Board at Warwickshire County Record Office, reference CR3418-403

The case for a new super-pit looked promising, but there were issues and the super-pit would significantly affect the built up area of Coventry. The Headgear had to be the minimum height it could be, but this still meant that it would be visible from several vantage points and despite the modern disguise it must be assumed that it wouldn’t have blended with city’s famous three spires’?

There were concerns in the historical Warwickshire areas regarding the surface tipping and disposal of generated waste. It seems that this was not really an issue as long as not dumping in the Meriden Gap (an area of open countryside which provided effective separation between Coventry and Solihull and the larger West Midlands conurbation). This  includes ‘Millison’s Wood’ which was quite a large area of woodland at the time of the Inquiry; its survival had already been extended by the previously rejected Stoneleigh Regional Shopping Development. It is interesting to note that even by 2002 only small pockets of this wood had survived.

A minimal impact on agriculture

The impact on agricultural land would have been minimal. NFU (National Farmers Union) members did not oppose the project generally although it also was concerned about the potential impact of subsidence on members. In real terms this was an irrelevance as the loss of agriculture at that time would have been in accordance with the national policies from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF). In 1988 ‘Reading Agricultural Consultants’ were commissioned to provide ‘proof of evidence’. This confirmed that there would be no adverse impact on agricultural land and the lack of any objection from MAFF backed this up. There were major changes in agricultural policies around this time due to massive over production. The landscape quality of Hawkhurst Moor was considered to have been already degraded by modern farming practices (referring to the removal of hedgerows) and the industrial development at Banner Lane. It was considered that the remaining local farmers would in fact benefit from a reduction of traffic on minor roads.

Extraction and production was not considered a major problem as waste from the new super-pit could be disposed of at Cornets End, an exhausted sand and gravel workings*. Water supply and drainage (process water and mine water) would also not be problematic. The annual requirement for potable water of 50 million litres could be accommodated by the existing network. In general neither, the Super-pit would in fact be a significant user and generator. Some controlled pollutants would however run off into local River Tame1. A direct pipeline from the Super-pit to the river was the subject of a separate investigation. Noise and vibration were all deemed to be within permissible levels.

The other major negative issue would have been dust which was an inevitable by product of mining, however even these would fall within agreed levels.

Letter to Chris Patten

The letter sent to Chris Patten (Secretary of State for the Environment at the time) detailed the public inquiry held at several locations between 31st Jan and 25th May 1989; it called on almost 200 persons representing the interest of 19 different parties. This inquiry, especially when read in conjunction of the aforesaid consultation paper, seems to make a more than feasible case for the Hawkhurst Moor super-pit.

By this stage it had been determined that there was not a case for expanding the existing collieries at Daw Mill and Keresley which were older, relatively inefficient, and could only achieve 1.75 million tonnes annually. Hawkhurst Moor, meanwhile, had the potential for four million tonnes. There was no doubt that the reserves of good quality coal were in-situ as they still are. The BCC claimed that coal in the ground was ‘God’s Gift to Mankind’  and that no coal should be wasted! Things did not necessarily proceed as anticipated, however.

1 These matters were open to some more debate but it was felt solutions could be arrived at.

Referencessee the third article for a full list.

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