UK Coal (Minerals).

Hepworth Acoustics deals with noise issues for new UK Coal surface mine.Hepworth Acoustics deals with noise issues for new UK Coal surface mine.

Hepworth Acoustics was appointed by UK Coal to deal with noise issues in the run up to a major public inquiry for a surface coal mine in Leicestershire, and to present evidence at the inquiry itself.

The site involved was the proposed Long Moor surface mine, where it was proposed to extract 725,000 tonnes of coal over a three year period. An Environmental Statement, including noise measurements and predictions, prepared by another company, was submitted with the planning application in November 2003. Planning permission for the site was refused by Leicestershire County Council in July 2004. UK Coal appealed against the refusal, and asked Hepworth Acoustics to represent them at a public inquiry held in September 2005 and lasting for 13 days.

In preparation for the public inquiry, Hepworth Acoustics assessed the noise section of the Environmental Statement, carried out noise monitoring at additional locations, refined the predictions of operational noise using the results of previous research work on opencast sites, and prepared a proof of evidence and rebuttal documentation.

Noise evidence was presented at the public inquiry, including cross examination from Queens Counsel on behalf of the Council and other local residents and action groups. The Council had appointed a noise consultant for the inquiry, so a considerable amount of time was spent dealing with noise issues, particularly involving the accuracy of the predictions carried out by Hepworth Acoustics. The Inspectors report recommended granting permission for the site and accepted the noise arguments and predictions put forward by Hepworth Acoustics. Permission was granted by the Secretary of State in May 2006 and the site commenced operation in 2007.