A smooth progression? From forward planning to development control for opencast coal mining in the light of current planning review
Recent concern and debate over the effectiveness of the British planning system has focused on uncertainty and delay in application outcomes, coordination among, and prescriptive value of, different types of plans and the degree of engagement of communities. This paper contributes to the debate by reviewing the planning procedures for opencast coal mine development and presenting empirical findings on their implementation in the mid 1990s when conflicts of interest were particularly pronounced and when changes in the attitude towards coal's importance to the national interest were discernible. By investigating a contentious type of development and identifying the nature, and the range of interests involved, a number of points relevant to this debate arise. These concern the value of development plans as guiding documents both for developers and the general public; difficulties in involving the public and generating consensus at the forward planning stage and associated impacts at the development control stages; and the importance of the type of development to resolving conflict.