WHY WE ARE ASKING LEICESTERSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL TO STOP COAL PRODUCTION AT THE MINORCA OPENCAST MINE.
When approval was finally given for the Minorca Opencast Mine in Leicestershire between Measham and Swepstone, it was on condition that the communities affected should receive benefits. These benefits were of two kinds, £150,000 to be paid in instalments to a Community Fund and £1.750,000, also to be paid in instalments, into another fund for the restoration of the Ashby Canal.
The Minorca Opencast Protest Group (MOPG) can now reveal, that as a consequence of the widely reported financial difficulties faced by UK Coal Mining Holdings, that the latest tranche of these payments, £16,000 to the Community Fund and £250,000 to the fund to restore the Ashby Canal, have not been paid when they were due, earlier this month.
In addition, Harworth Estates, the actual landowner of the Minorca site has yet to finalise the legal agreement to extend the Minorca site by demolishing Measham Fields Farm and mine an extra 250,000 tonnes of coal. Leicestershire County Council has agreed to this extension, subject to Harworth Estates signing a Section 106 agreement to donate an extra £60,000 to the Community Fund in three instalments over a 12-month period. This Harworth Estates has so far failed to do.
Emma Blackman, MOPG’s Secretary said
“In the lead up to the time approval was given for this opencast mine in 2011, MOPG constantly warned Leicestershire County Council about the fragile financial state of UK Coal.
Now it may be a case of chickens coming home to roost as we witness the non payment of monies due on the one hand, whilst on the other, UK Coal continue to work the site and apparently sell coal without benefits accruing to the community or to the restoration of the Ashby Canal.
We want to know, from Leicestershire County Council why they are allowing the extraction of coal to continue when UK Coal are, if our facts are correct, clearly in breach of a legal contract? When are they going to start protecting our interests and halt further coal production until such a time as the money owed has been paid? If this is not done, if the Company goes into liquidation debts owing will be written off, including those to the Community Fund and to the fund paying for the restoration of the Ashby Canal.
We understand that coal is currently being extracted at a rate of between 10 and 12,000 tonnes a week. Each week the site is worked in breach of its legal contact means that it becomes less and less attractive to a potential buyer, and less likely that if it is bought, that buyer will want to continue to pay for the level of community benefits agreed when planning permission was granted in 2011.
That’s why the Council should move to stop coal production now until the money owed is paid ”.
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