Looking down on Telford's opencast mine
[gallery] These photos taken from the Wrekin's summit show the extent of progress being made at the opencast mine in Little Wenlock.
These photos taken from the Wrekin's summit show the extent of progress being made at the opencast mine in Little Wenlock.
Mining giants UK Coal say the dig at Huntington Lane has reached its second stage following a successful eviction of protesters in August.
UK Coal chiefs say 260,000 tonnes of coal have been removed with another 450,000 tonnes expected to be mined by 2013.
Work at Site A of the 230-acre mine began in October 2010.
Protesters built a camp between Site A and Site B to hamper the efforts of UK Coal.
The camp was set up on a proposed haul road linking the two sites which would allow trucks and diggers to travel between them.
But bailiffs swooped on the camp in August as protesters partied at V-Festival.
They cleared away the camp, including tents, towers and hire wire ropes, to make way for the road to be built and Site B to be mined.
Chris Crouch, spokesman for UK Coal, said: "The 350 metre haul road has now been completed and work on Site B has begun. We expect the work to be finished by 2013 with the land returned over a 41-month period.
"Site A will be returned to pasture and Site B returned to agricultural land.
"The scheme has created 35 jobs on site with many more in the supply chain to the camp."
Mr Crouch said the protest did not cause the miners any real delays.
UK Coal chiefs say all the topsoil will be replaced after the mining is finished.
The firm also wants to extract 250,000 tonnes of fire clay from the mine, which is between New Works and Little Wenlock.
The site has received widespread opposition from local residents and environmental campaigners. But the mine is seen as key to UK Coal's financial future following losses of more than £100 million last year.
In October 2009, UK Coal won an appeal to extract 900,000 tonnes of coal from the site after Telford & Wrekin Council failed to come to a decision.
Campaigners spent months fighting the firm until former Secretary of State John Denham backed an appeal and granted permission with a string of conditions attached.
At the time residents said they were furious with the decision but more recently they have come out in favour of the company and said they just wanted to see the work completed and the ground restored.
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