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working is a temporary use of land, although it often takes place over a long period of time” 3

When this specific use of the land come to an end, UK Coal plc are meant to restore the land to its original condition or to the conditions agreed when initially granting the application. If it wants to develop the land for another purpose UK Coal plc has then to apply to change the conditions governing its use of the site. When this occurs, and it changes UK Coal’s temporary use of the site into the permanent use for a different purpose, UK Coal plc can run into problems as the Cutacre and Lounge case studies which follow make clear.

This issue of ‘temporary use’ also affects UK Coal’s classification of its land under development as ‘brownfield’ land, the third issue facing UK Coal plc. Technically a brown field site in planning terms includes the following as part of a longer definition

“Previously developed land (often referred to as brownfield land)

‘previously- developed land is that which is or was occupied by a permanent structure, including the curtilage of the developed land and any associated fixed surface infrastructure’

The definition includes defence buildings, but excludes:

Land that is or has been occupied by agricultural or forestry buildings

Land that has been developed for minerals extraction or waste disposal by landfill purposes where provision for restoration has been made through development control procedures.” 4

This issue, ie the exclusion of ex-mineral sites from being classified as brown field land for planning purposes, is an issue not addressed by UK Coal plc in its literature.  If the Cutacre and Lounge sites are currently defined by UK Coal plc as ‘brownfield’ sites, does this mean that in the company will classify any new site it gets temporary planning permission for to extract the coal from as a ‘brownfield’ site in the future, thus implying further development potential?  UK Coal plc does not make it clear what proportion of its 3,500 acres of ”principally brownfield development land”  the correct technical brown field planning term can be applied to. The definition may apply to parts of UK Coal’s inherited estate, where no obligations to restore the site lay with the original site owners. However two of the case studies which follow, show that UK Coal plc’s rather cavalier definition of a ‘brownfield’ site used in the 2006 presentation was not sensitive to the true situation.

If it is intended that in future new opencast sites will be classified as ‘principally brownfield development land’ by UK Coal plc, then a further


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