§ Mr. Malcolm Bruce
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will give an assurance that he will uphold the terms of the north-east Derbyshire green belt local plan (paragraph 5.20, proposal 6) and reject any application lodged on appeal by British Coal to begin opencast mining in the green belt and around Barlborough.
§ Mr. Moynihan
No. I cannot give such an assurance. This would clearly prejudice the position of the Secretary of State were an application to come before him on appeal. Minerals can be worked only where they occur, but extraction, including opencast coal, need not be incompatible with green belt objectives provided high environmental standards are maintained and sites are restored to a good standard. As Derbyshire's green belt local plan makes clear, mineral working is a temporary operation which can be acceptable in green belt areas and is not incompatible with the eventual restoration of the area to an open use.