VILLAGERS have claimed they have repeatedly been betrayed by the planning system ahead of a decision over a plan to convert a former coal mine site into a centre taking 75,000 tonnes of waste a year.

North Yorkshire County Council is set consider an officer’s recommendation to approve a proposal for the former Stillingfleet mine site, between the villages of Cawood, Stillingfleet and Escrick, despite the authority having agreed in 1979 that the site would be restored to agriculture 12 months after the mine closed.

The mine operation ended in 2004, but the county council did not launch enforcement action against the landowner, and in 2016 decided it would not be in the public interest to do so as part of the mine had been cleared.

The following year Harworth Estates lodged the planning application, which sparked uproar in surrounding villages amid fears the operation would create clouds of dust, significant noise and ecological harm.

Numerous parish councils lodged objections to the scheme highlighting the land would have been a greenfield site if the county council had stuck to the conditions it imposed on the mine and that the waste scheme was totally unsuitable as a large-scale industrial development.

However, Harworth Estates argues that at present, plasterboard waste has to be sent from North Yorkshire to Nottinghamshire for processing to reclaim the gypsum.

An agent for the firm said: “

The proposed site is located within a disused former industrial area that is appropriate for this type of development. The development would provide a sustainable facility for waste recycling that would be of use to the residential, industrial and commercial communities in York and Selby together with the wider area.”

The council’s planning officers have concurred, saying the proposed use was not considered large scale as it would only cover part of the former mine site.

After more than four years of complex legal and planning wrangling over the scheme, the proposal is due to be considered by the county’s planning committee on Tuesday, where objectors have been invited to voice their views.

However, the council’s planning department gave objectors just one day’s notice to submit their comments for the meeting.

Escrick Division councillor Richard Musgrave said while he believed the county council’s planning department was usually efficient and professional, in this case he sympathised with villagers who said they had repeatedly been betrayed and failed by the planning system.

Cllr Musgrave said

“It doesn’t feel that objectors are being given a fair crack of the whip. 

“It seems very opportunistic for the landowner to be applying for something that was never meant to be there. The county council chose not to enforce, and I believe it should have done.”