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UK Coal fails to respond to two more Minorca Opencast Objections

Steve Leary | 23.09.2010 11:22 | Climate Chaos | Ecology | Energy Crisis | Birmingham | Sheffield

This press release outlines why MOPG are still mounting objections to the Minorca Application on economic grounds.

PR 80 23/9/10


Activists opposed to UK Coal’s plans for an Opencast Mine between Measham and Swepstone have now published information about their second objection which challenges economic aspects of UK Coal’s original submission made in July 2009.
Under the heading ‘Economic Viability and Saleability’ MOPG reiterate a set of economic arguments which Wardle Armstrong, acting as Agents for UK Coal had put forwards. As these arguments have not been addressed in UK Coal’s supplementary set of papers published in July 2010, despite UK Coal’s claims that they have addressed objections raised by the Minorca Opencast Protest Group, they have now been resubmitted by MOPG.

In their original submission Wardle Armstrong made reference to a set of policies that justified the application gaining approval because the previous Government’s 2007 Energy White Paper, in paragraph 4.31 stated that

“Making the best use of UK energy resources, including coal reserves, where it is economically viable and environmentally acceptable to do so”.

In their 2nd set of objections submitted in December 2009, MOPG argued that no analysis had been undertaken that assessed whether, when taking all the economic costs falling on innocent third parties, the social economic costs of working the coal, had been taken into account, it was economic to extract Minorca’s coal. The application, it was claimed, lack an ‘economic viability’ test. UK Coal has not responded to this claim.

In addition, in the same document the December 2009 set of submissions, the Minorca Opencast Protest Group also argued that UK Coal had also argued that this coal was needed for blending purposes and that the coal needed to be blended to improve its ‘saleability’. MOPG argued that the real reason for blending was to reduce the average price at which coal was sold to Power Stations as surface mine coal is cheaper that deep mined coal.

In their latest September 2010 submission MOPG draw attention to the fact that UK Coal has failed to address both of these objections. MOPG also have submitted further evidence that Minorca’s coal may not be as saleable as first thought, since UK Coal has deliberately delayed starting working at the Potland Burn site County Durham and could sell a site in Scotland due to produce 600,000 tonnes, Blair House, as soon as they has gained planning permission . Neither action has, is seems, prevented UK Coal from honouring its agreements to provide coal to Power Generators.

Both sets of documents referred to can be downloaded from:

Steve Leary, speaking for MOPG said:

“This apparent lack of concern by UK Coal plc to address issues raised by MOPG seems to be a real attempt to sideline MOPG’s objections as being of no consequence. If it is meant to be a way of silencing criticism then it is ineffective. We have already stated that UK Coal did not reply to our concerns about Traffic. Now we can reveal that two other objections we raised that question economic aspects of the original application have also been ignored.

MOPG stands by these two objections and has resubmitted them. Back in December 2009 we provided evidence that there needed to be a test of economic viability undertaken to assess whether it was, or was not economic, to work this coal. UK Coal has not addressed this issue at all.

Secondly we claimed that the ‘saleability’ argument was really an argument about reducing the average price at which UK Coal can sell its coal. Again UK Coal made no comment on this in its new submission. We also question, in our new submission whether UK Coal actually need this coal since anyway in light of recent evidence that the Company has taken steps to reduce the quantity of coal it produces.

People must judge for themselves why, on the one hand UK Coal can claim to have addressed issues raised by MOPG and yet ignore legitimate issues raised by MOPG. Despite these attempts to reduce the significance of MOPG’s objections we will continue to press Leicestershire County Council to take account of our concerns and reject this Planning Application when it comes before the Development Control and Regulatory Board at its meeting on October 15th


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Steve Leary
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