Steve Leary | 26.04.2010 10:16
OTHER CONTROVERSIES AFFECT UK COAL plc IN ADDITION TO IT LOOSING £129 MILLION POUNDS
UK Coal plc announcement today that it lost an estimated £129.1million in 2009 is not the only legacy the company has left from last year. (1) Other issues, in addition to these losses affect this company. A group opposing UK Coal’s plan to opencast a green field rural site in Leicestershire, the Minorca Opencast Protest Group recently published a report into the activities of this company entitled “UK Coal plc: An Alternative Report”. Amongst other things this report details the losses this company has accrued on its coal operations over the period 2000 - 2008 of over £110m, reveals its increasing reliance on opencast rather than deep mined coal and criticises it’s marketing of its land bank. In addition the report highlights where the actions of this company have resulted in the company coming into conflict with local communities and local councils in Bolton over the restoration plans for UK Coal’s Cutacre site, in Rossington, Doncaster where plans for a large Eco-Town were successfully resisted and the Lounge site near Ashby De La Zouch in Leicestershire, which UK Coal has failed to restore to agricultural land despite an enforcement order.(2) Since the publication of this report in March 2010 there have been further developments.
In March planned opencast sites for which UK Coal had gained planning permission, Blair House in Scotland and Huntington Lane in Telford were occupied by protestors – and the occupation of the Huntington Lane site still continues.(3) Leicestershire County Council are now threatening to take UK Coal plc to court over the non restoration of the Lounge site.3 Private Eye in its story “Restoration Comedy” reported on this.(5)
Since the publication of the Private Eye story a further example of UK Coal’s ability to upset local people has come to light in Rainworth Nottinghamshire, where plans to site an incinerator on the site of the UK Coal owned Rufford Colliery has led to a Public Inquiry on the planning application (6)
This is all in addition to our own objections to having the possibility of an opencast mine on a site over one mile long and half a mile wide across the road from where people live.
Steve Leary, Spokesperson for the Minorca Opencast Protest Group said
“Anyone with an interest in this company should take note not just of these financial losses. This is a company which demonstrates a capacity to upset local people in places where they operate, especially when it comes to seeking planning permission for opencast mine sites and developing ex deep mining and surface mined sites. There are other sites that could have been researched such as Stobswood and Hoodsclose in Nortumberland , Bradley in Co Durham, Lodge House and Smalley in Derbyshire where opencast mining is taking place in spite of local opposition or is threatened. These results are likely to make UK Coal even more determined to pursue its plans for new opencast sites and to develop its property despite local protests as it seeks to rescue itself from its dire financial position. We can therefore expect to see even more controversy surround this company in the future.
In our case in Leicestershire it also raises questions about whether this company would have the money to restore the site if it gained planning permission to opencast on the Minorca site. We will be raising this issue with Leicestershire County Council, who are due to decide on this application on July 15th"
5Private Eye, Issue 1260 16-29 April 2010 p 30.
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