Opencast Mining Moss Carr Extension

1st February, 2001

So, the application to mine opencast coal on the 77 acre site at Boat Lane has been rejected by Leeds City Council, the application, which was to obtain 100,000 tonnes of coal also included proposals to extract a considerable tonnage of sand and gravel.

The report in the Pontefract & Castleford Express much to the satisfaction of the locals, stated that Miller Mining who had made the application now claim the site ‘was no longer their responsibility as that arm of their operation had been taken over by Scottish Coal’. Scottish Coal, it says in the paper, also disclaimed responsibility for the site. (confused!)

Good News, but does it augur badly for the application by HJ Banks and Company Limited to opencast at the Moss Carr site, does it give Leeds City Council the moral high ground and a counter argument to agreeing to the much larger site along that ancient right of way at Moss Carr? I wonder. 

Methley has been saddled with deep seam mining for the last 150 years and opencast mining in pieces for the last 50 years, not forgetting the massive carbuncle that is the St Aidans site. I first heard night time pile driving for the St. Aidans site in the 1950’s.    Legislation in this country ensures that contractors reinstate the land to the state it had been, but quite frankly I think this village (the land) has had enough.

Well that’s it (March 2001), the application has been approved and the Moss Carr site will be another area of Methley to succumb to the earthmover and the excavations and mounds.   Livewire (Parish Magazine) reports that the West Yorkshire Archaeological Service will make a survey before work commences. I wonder if it will be a comprehensive survey, including metal detection?

I also wonder if a renewed application will be made for the Methley Ings site in, say three years time. If not perhaps an application could be made for the St Margarets area, or why not the Hollings?
There could be no end to it, perhaps the man whose name is on the deeds could let us know.

Archaeology Report – Moss Carr
An archaeological survey instigated by Leeds City Planning Authority as a requirement of the planning application to opencast was undertaken by the WYAS . The geophysical survey made up of field examination and aerial photography was completed by archaeologists retained by HJ Banks & Co. This was subsequently passed on to WYAS to complete along with a desk based assessment. The survey (greyscale gradiometer) indicated the following :-
•features associated with early drainage works
•possible archaeological activity on the escarpment
•infilled ditches of probable archaeological activity
•documentary evidence indicates mediaeval occupation in the Moss Carr area
•a settlement at Moss Carr is recorded on a map of 1787 (Whitelock)
•a small number of artefacts were recovered from trial trenches cut into the area
•no known roman artefacts were found on this site
•the extraction area consisted of glacial deposits – predominantly boulder clay with a band of sand and gravel. The site is situated on middle coal measures.

The report to WYAS was received 7th July, 2000 – the above list is my abstraction from information available at the WYAS,  Wakefield. I am indebted to Mr I Sanderson for assistance in providing the material and contribution.

September 2002
Following a request to make a personal visit, Banks Opencast arranged a viewing programme under the supervision of one of their assistant surveyors Mr. J Drinkall, undertaken in one of their vehicles. Many thanks to them for that – the tour in itself was both an education and an appreciated buzz.

I was able to see at first hand the clearing of a section of site in preparation for deeper excavation (development) and the removal of overburden.

The next stage went into the ‘pit’ where the seams had been exposed and coal extraction was taking place (coal face), it was interesting to see the layering of the strata inbetween the three working seams. The seams were Stanley Main, Methley Park Top (Kents Thick) and Methley Park Lower (Kents Thin).

We then completed the tour by seeing the back filling operations taking place prior to levelling and restoration. Throughout it was possible to note the efficient working of the pit maximising on robust earth moving equipment with minimum manpower requirements.

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