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Yesterday, the House of Commons saw a debate on the private members bill to introduce a 500m buffer zone between opencast mines and residents domiciles, proposed by North West Leicestershire MP Andrew Bridgen.

Despite having the support of over 20 cross-party MPs and the fact that Scottish and Welsh parliaments have already ruled in favor of similar protections, the government refused to support the bill.

Amidst accusations of cowardice and disgrace from fellow MPs, Communities Minister Andrew Stunell attempted to block the bill by talking until the alloted time for debate was up. This means the bill, which could have crucial impacts on the planning applications for a number of opencast mines, will not go any further until October.
Steve Leary, of Minorca Opencast Protest Group, who are objecting to a mine near Leicester which will operate within almost 30m of local residences, expressed his disappointment at the governments position.

With much of England’s estimated 516 million tonnes of coal reserves lying within 500 metres of residential settlements the blight of opencast mines on local communities appears not to be a significant issue for the government.

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