§ 18. Mr. Fisher
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many proposals for opencast mining have been referred to his Department on appeal; and how many appeals have been upheld.
§ Mr. Michael Spicer
Since April 1987, the first date from which comprehensive data are available, 57 opencast mining appeals have been under consideration with the Secretary of State. During that time 21 appeals have been upheld and 19 dismissed. Seventeen appeals have yet to be decided.
§ Mr. Fisher
Is the Minister aware that the British Coal Opencast Executive has submitted an application to mine 350 acres on a site in my constituency which is surrounded by housing and is a few hundred yards from the city centre of Stoke-on-Trent, the 13th largest city in the United Kingdom? Will the hon. Gentleman review the guidelines by which he judges appeals to take into account the green environment and the human environment as well as the impact of such proposals on constituents' lives?
§ Mr. Spicer
The hon. Gentleman will understand that I cannot comment on a specific application. As one of those responsible for negotiating the present mineral guidelines when I was Minister with responsibility for coal, I am content with the fact that a balance is struck between environmental factors and the needs of coal mining. I should have thought that an environmental impact assessment would be bound to be requested as part of this and any similar application.