Visual intrusion is considered during the design of the site and efforts are made to phase the operations and construct screening mounds to reduce the visual intrusion of the site. Use is made of natural features such as topography and woodland to screen operations.
Overburden and soil mounds are constructed with a natural profile and in a manner to screen plant operations in elevated positions. Site amenity areas, workshops, coal stocking and coal processing are located sensitively. Progressive restoration of the area of backfilling is undertaken following extraction. Site operations are managed to reduce the effects of activities within the operational areas.
Natural features within a site are protected and maintained where practicable. Advanced restoration of features are established in their final locations and in areas not required for operations. The site is restored to an appropriate landscape at the end of operations.
Desktop and field studies are conducted during the planning stage to identify the potential impacts to water resources. Operations are designed to mitigate the potential impacts and environmental management plans are devised to prevent pollution. Biological and physicochemical monitoring is conducted as part of these plans to identify any impacts, if they should arise. All interactions with surface and groundwater is licensed and monitored by the Environment Agency. Water is managed to ensure compliance with Environment Agency standards.
Water treatment facilities are constructed at strategic locations around the site to control the surface water run off within the site catchments and to treat the pumped water from the excavation area.
Watercourses and under drainage systems not affected by the site operations are protected to avoid damage, through supervision on site and careful programming of the works. Steps are taken to prevent damage by erosion, silting or flooding. Suspended solids are settled out from water discharged from the site before entering any watercourse or under-drainage system. Pollution control measures are put in place to control oil from mechanical plant and effluent from ablution buildings, site offices and similar buildings by the provision of oil traps, septic tanks and containment bunds.
Soil storage and overburden mounds are seeded to grass as soon as possible to prevent a high solids content in the site water prior to entering the water treatment systems.
The aim of blasting is to loosen and fragment the harder strata overlying the coal seams where necessary prior to excavation by the large mechanical excavators. Blasting is achieved without causing damage to neighbouring properties adjacent to the site. Blasting is controlled strictly in accordance with recognised standards to prevent such damage to properties.
The effects of blasting are extremely well documented and controls are particularly effective, although perception of blast vibration occurs well before any damage could occur. Blast controls are implemented by effective blast design which is conducted by a qualified blasting engineer for each individual blast and reviewed by a second qualified person. Blasts are monitored to ensure compliance with blast design. In some circumstances, structural surveys are provided to local residents both before and after operations to give them peace of mind that no damage has occurred.
Blasting is typically confined to between 1000 hours to 1300 hours and 1400 hours to 1600 hours, Monday to Friday and between 1000 hours and 1300 hours on Saturdays. Blasting is preceded by an audible and visible warning to persons on or in the vicinity of the site.