Pits and quarries

A brief history...

The earliest quarries in South Yorkshire were small and usually extracted stone and materials for building houses. They are now often landscape features of historic interest. 
 
Coal mining was the main activity in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Most work was underground, but waste material (spoil) brought to surface created huge tips covering large areas around the mines. Most of these tips have now been restored and landscaped into recreation spots, such as Rother Valley Country Park and the RSPB’s Old Moor nature reserve.

 

Today

Coal is still mined in South Yorkshire but usually via open cast mining. This is temporary but can cause scars on the landscape. The impact on local communities can also be severe, especially from lorries carrying the coal away. For environmental reasons, Government policy is usually against coal mining unless the impact on land and communities is minimised.
 
There are also a number of large quarries that provide aggregate for road building and construction on the limestone ridge that runs north to south through Doncaster and Rotherham. Some specialist dolomite (a type of limestone rich in magnesium) quarries provide material for glass making. Doncaster also has a number of sand and gravel pits which spread over very large areas of the countryside. When they are restored, they can provide valuable lakes and wetlands for wildlife or can be returned to agriculture.
 

What we do

We  oppose open cast coal mining because of

  • the impact it has on the landscape 
  • the need to switch away from dirty fuels like coal to avert the worst impacts of climate change (see our Climate Change and Energy policy for details)

Please see our policies about minerals and quarrying and small scale quarries for more details about where we stand.
 
We monitor all new applications for quarrying in South Yorkshire and judge them on the impact they would have on the countryside and communities. We also look to see if there are already enough reserves available in the region to satisfy the reasonable needs of society.
 

Campaigns

In 2003, we worked with the communities of Goldthorpe and Barnburgh to stop a new open cast site at West Moor Closes. In the face of united opposition, UK Coal withdrew their plans.

Since this time there haven't been any major applications for open cast coal mining in South Yorkshire. However, the increasing pressure for fuel and rising costs of coal mean that we have to remain vigilant... But a bigger worry is fracking which we fear would cause serious local environmental impacts and make it more difficult for the UK to meet challenging carbon reduction targets. Recent studies by the British Geological Survey show there could be considerable gas reserves under South Yorkshire.