The latest whispers from the streets of Stainforth

On 18th April 2002, Coalpower, Richard Budge’s name for his latest venture involving Hatfield Main Colliery, announced they were ready to release their plans for the site to the general public.

The details of the proposed scheme are available for inspection at Hatfield Colliery, but here I will look at the proposals and the way they will affect us, the residents of Stainforth.

Big Plans
The first thing to hit you when you see the "masterplan" is the immensity of the task Coalpower have undertaken. The proposed plan for Hatfield Colliery will herald the biggest changes Stainforth has seen since work started at the site of the mine in 1911, and the shafts were sunk in 1916. The impact of these proposals could dictate whether Stainforth will disappear into obscurity, as events at present point to, - i.e. the renaming of the middle school and the railway station, where the name of Stainforth has been conveniently disregarded, - or whether Stainforth can be rejuvenated, to become a major centre of industrial commerce.

Hatfield Main Headgear
No.1 headgear, as seen through coal prep plant


What Stainforth has to offer.
While searching through Mr. Barrass’s archived material, I came across a report written about the Haggs Wood area of Stainforth over 60 years ago. In this report the area was described thus:

Haggs Wood
Haggs wood today
"Among the many excellent sites for industrial purposes The Haggs Estate stand out prominently as being ideally situated for development.
Laying between the Thorne and Stainforth junctions of the L.N.E. Railway, with which it runs parallel for nearly half a mile, gives direct rail facilities to important parts of Hull, Goole and Grimsby to the East, Doncaster, Sheffield, Leeds and other important towns to the West and North.

Sand and gravel for building and concrete work is available on adjoining property, being worked by the Yorkshire Amalgamated Products Co. Water has been proved by bore to yield 18,000 gallons per hour by ordinary suction pump. Coal may also be obtained under special conditions from the large new colliery less than one mile distant."

We know the imagined industrial development failed to materialise, the Haggs Wood of today bearing little resemblance to the theoretical possibilities outlined above. Coalpower has seen the potential the area has for such development still rings true to the present day. In fact, with access to the M18 Motorway available at Junction 5, Stainforth is in an even better situation than it was at the time of the Haggs Wood report. Add to this the possibility of a new international airport less than five miles away at Finningley, and one would be hard pressed to find a more ideal location for growth and development.


A brief outline.
As part of the proposed changes to Hatfield Colliery a new "Power Park" will be constructed in two phases, to be completed by 2005/6, and to cover a combined area of over 33 hectares. Stretching from the Haggs Wood estate in the south side of Stainforth, to Kirton Lane in the north, this plan shows Richard Budge’s intentions to benefit the area with a long term strategy for growth, rather than a scheme to rape the earth of it’s resources and leave the residents of Stainforth with nothing more than several piles of colliery waste.

Click to enlarge image
Click image to enlarge (87k)

The main part of Coalpower’s plan involves the construction of a 430 MW Coal Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) Power Generation Plant, which will be built on the site currently occupied by the coal screening facilities at the colliery. Besides generating cheap electricity, the plant will also produce chemicals as byproducts, which can be sold to pharmaceutical companies and other industries.
Since the process involves a system whereby the fuel is cleaned of NOx and SOx (see NOx & SOx further down this page), another byproduct which is useful is hydrogen. I believe Coalpower are already in talks with a local transport company who are considering adapting their vehicles to run on hydrogen as a cleaner option to using diesel.

A new smoke stack is to be erected, to a height approaching that of the existing headgear.

Two new access roads will be made available for the site. One will incorporate the existing road to the entrance of the industrial park on East Lane, currently known as Wagons Way. The other will approach the mine from the rear access of Kirton Lane, through which a connection to the M18 at Junction 5 will be added.

There is also a proposal to implement a spoil movement and tip re-profiling plan, which will take two years to complete. This scheme comes under the heading of, "Landscaping and Visual Effects", and involves the movement of millions of tonnes of colliery waste to form an embankment, which will surround the whole complex.

The plans for the surface development means that there will need to be substantial investment in the existing underground workings of the colliery. At the moment the mine is taking coal from the High Hazel seam, but with a vast reserve of good quality coal available for extraction from the Barnsley seam, several new coal faces will be laid out and equipped to tap into these resources.
With reserves in the Barnsley seam available for exploitation all the way from the colliery to the coast, the mine's future has never looked better.

It is estimated that when complete the Power Park will provide around 1,500 jobs. In recent years the population of Stainforth has been in steady decline. The creation of such a large number of jobs, and the knock on effect this would have on the local economy, would undoubtedly be beneficial to future generations of Stainforth residents.


At what price?
This is the question which will be asked over and over by the people of Stainforth as the minute details of the regeneration plan unfold.

At first the price to those who live nearest the colliery will be self evident. The dust and noise created during the landscaping process may seem at times unbearable, despite reassurances from Coalpower. Remember, this is a two year plan which will involve two dark wet winters and hot dusty summers. Coalpower go to great pains to point out that such disruption will only be temporary. Then, after the landscaping plan has been implemented, the owners of houses which faced the colliery will be left with a view that extends less than twenty metres forwards and twenty metres upwards, such is the scale of the planned "screening mound".

Line of sight diagram
Diagram showing how line of sight will dictate height of "screening mound"
Coalpower have several variations of this graphic in their viewing room, but I drew this from memory.
I hope to replace it with a copy of one of Coalpower's own diagrams shortly.

Then there are the questions which will arise about the construction of a new IGCC Power Generating Plant. Will such a plant pose a threat or danger to those who live nearby? What about the effect such a plant will have on our local environment?

The answers to these questions, and more, have all been addressed by Coalpower, who have released an Environmental Statement in the form of a Non Technical Summary, which is free, and a Full ES, which can be purchased for £50.00. Both are obtainable from the colliery, where there is a visitors room showing plans and diagrams, and soon an AV presentation will be set up for visitors to see an animated view of the proposals.


IGCC Power Generating and Chemical byproducts.
There is a plethora of information about IGCC power generating available on the Internet, and I have included links to some sites which I think may be of interest to others at the bottom of this page.

The following is a simple explanation of what we will have on our doorsteps when the Power Park is completed.

There are over 1,000 billion tonnes of coal reserves available worldwide. With natural oil and gas supplies becoming scarce, it will come as no surprise to find that governments around the world are once again looking at coal as being the power source for the future. Despite the short sighted actions of governments, solely interested in making vast profits from the "boom and bust" decade of the 1980’s, coal still remains as a viable source of cheap energy.

The idea of using coal gas is not new, the first patent for a gasifier was granted to Lurgi GmbH in Germany in1887, but it's taken more than 100 years to perfect the technique.

Since the 1980’s, great advances have been made in making coal a "clean" power source. New power generating plants have to obey stringent environmental protection regulations, and this has led to investment in technologies which cut down on atmospheric pollution, making full use of fuels and their residues. Power generating plants which are already in existence, such as Drax near Selby, have had to install desulphurisation or denitrification facilities in order to meet these regulations..

The integrated gasification combined cycle method (IGCC) is now considered to be one of the cleanest and most environmentally friendly systems of fossil fuel power generating available today.

Undesirable elements are removed from the fuel prior to combustion. The way this is achieved is the coal undergoes partial oxidation in a gassifier. Simply put, this means the energy in the coal is transformed into a combustible gas. What remains of the coal - chemicals such as sulphur, ammonia, oxygen etc. - are recovered using techniques which have been perfected in the petrochemical industry.

The gas obtained from the coal is burned in a combustion turbine, after which the exhaust gases are recovered to produce steam, which, in turn, is used to drive a steam turbine. It is this method that makes the IGCC method of producing electricity one of the most efficient systems known.


NOx and SOx
Since the impurities contained in the coal are removed prior to combustion, this drastically reduces the effects of atmospheric pollutants such as nitrogen oxides (NOx).
It is when fuels such as coal and oil undergo combustion, that nitrogen oxides appear. They are formed in the flames of the burning fuel, as a reaction between the oxygen (O2) and nitrogen (N2) compounds it contains, as well as with the oxygen and nitrogen contained in the air in the boiler.
This system of removing NOx is known as the "primary denitrification technique.
Within the NOx are two undesirable gases. N2O is what is known as a "greenhouse" gas and is considered to be responsible for global warming. NO2 is toxic to human beings, but only in high concentrations.
The chief source of the production of NOx is the transport sector, as nitrogen oxides are found in the exhaust emissions of road vehicles. In countries such as France, where the IGCC method is commonly used, it is considered that the Power Generation sector is responsible for as little as 3% of the total emissions of NOx released into the atmosphere.

Sulphur dioxide (SO2) is the culprit responsible for the most damaging effects of pollution. It was SO2 which gave the infamous London smog it’s yellow tinge, causing bronchial infections and other respiratory illness among those affected. It is also held responsible for causing acid rain, which occurs when it comes into contact with humidity and is transformed into sulphuric acid (H2SO4). Sulphuric acid is renowned for the damage caused to buildings, lakes and forests.

There are means of limiting the damage caused by SO2.
The first is the use of fuels with a low sulphur content. Hatfield Colliery coal is naturally low in sulphur. In fact, for many years it was added to cheaper high ash and high sulphur content imported coals, to act as a "sweetener" when burned in the old fashioned coal fired power stations.
The second is gas scrubbing, or flue gas desulphurisation, which is an expensive process.
A third and cheaper, but less effective method, is to inject lime or limestone into the boiler. The sulphur is transformed into calcium sulphate and can by recovered from the waste, or "fly ash".

Again, looking at France as an example, it is considered that transport is responsible for up to 90% of the total SO2 emissions, the rest coming from other industries, as well as the power producing sector.


Coalpower appear to have approached this project very seriously. They seem to have left no stone unturned in their evaluation and preparation of the scheme.

In their "Environmental Statement", they address concerns such as the effect their proposals will have on the local traffic network. Other aspects, such as noise, dust management, the effect on the local ecology, water and air quality, as well as the socio-economic effects which will effect our little village are also addressed.

Click image to enlarge

Click the thumbnail image to view the masterplan included with Coalpower's Environmental Statement (493k)


In Mr. Barrass’s text "A century of progress", he tells of one of Stainforth’s older residents who was heard complaining bitterly about the effect the new pit was having on the village, with the influx of the miners and their families and the houses which were being built for them causing such a mess, along what was once an open road to Hatfield.
We know now that without the mine, most of us wouldn’t be here. It was our fathers and grandfathers who came to Stainforth, looking for work at the pit, which reshaped this village into the community we grew up in.

In 1984 the miners of Stainforth embarked on one of the longest and bitterest disputes this country has ever seen, with the objective of keeping the colliery open and our village alive. Just last year, Hatfield Colliery was only days away from being closed for ever, only to be given a new lease of life under the direction of Richard Budge. Coalpower say the pit can survive for another forty years if this plan goes ahead. Without it there is no other market for home produced coal.
Hatfield Main Colliery


Links to other IGCC related web sites
The Willem Alexander plant is situated in Buggenum, Netherlands
IGCC: The Next Generation Power Plant - Making Environmental Compliance Affordable
An excellent site from Power Systems - All you want to know about IGCC technology.
English language site for German IGCC plant
Reports on uses for coal waste products.


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