UK Coal have been given permission by Fife Council to mine 720,000 tonnes of coal from the site, a decision that disregarded the wishes of local residents. Nearly 150 people objected to the planning application for this site and there were no letters of support. The Council, in their defence, wouldn't dare refuse another open cast coal mine application after their refusal of ATH Resources mine at Muir Dean on the insistence of Crossgates residents, was overturned by the government and cost them financially.
The planning process was designed to slip the mine past the majority of people living near it. As an example, the neighbour notification for the mine only included residents living within 90 metres of the site boundary, which only really involved notifying a few Oakley residents living opposite the site entrance.
Impacts on nearby communities will include noise, dust, HGV movements, impact on the landscape, ecology, and loss of recreation access. The Solidarity Camp stands in support of nearby residents opposing this mine and the inevitable other mines that will be applied for by profit-hungry UK Coal.
The site is ecologically diverse and home to a population of Great Crested Newts, a European Protected Specie, the Black Wood Wildlife site, designated as an area that once had ancient woodland and is now home to birch forests and oak trees, orchids, breeding birds and wintering birds, bats, red squirrels and Brown hares, listed on the UK Biodiversity Action Plan. The Cowstrandburn river will be diverted and undoubtedly polluted, along with other watercourses in the area.
Some 2.11 million tonnes of CO2 will be released into the atmosphere from the combustion of the coal, with more still being released from the mining process. None of this will be captured and stored. New coal mines such as this one undermine the governments plans to reduce Scotland's CO2 emissions and highlight the hypocrisy of government ministers and local councils when it comes to reducing emissions.
Fiona Richards, one of the people currently occupying the site said, “This new coal mine is only one of 20 such others to have recently been given planning permission in Scotland. If we are to have any chance of limiting dangerous climate change and protecting communities from carbon-intensive industries, direct action must be taken as councillors, mining companies and the government have shown their unwillingness to solve the problems we face.”
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