Please support communities opposing opencast in Scotland by participating in this online action: The Scottish Government is currently consulting on new regulation for what they hope will “regulate restoration effectively”. But whilst they consult, Hargreaves are being allowed to mine under even less regulation and oversight than before the collapse of Scottish Coal and ATH Resources. Communities living next to opencast mines in Scotland don’t need another CON-sultation – they need effective action to safeguard their health, well-being and local environment.
It is not acceptable that this crisis is being used as yet another opportunity for yet another mining company to scrape what they can out of communities and the environment whilst taking no responsibility for their actions. It is is time to seek justice for communities living near opencast mines – please respond to the consultation by visiting the Stop Cauldhall Opencast website here: http://stopopencast.org.uk/opencast-moratorium-now/
Consultation ends Thursday 27th February – please tell tell you friends, family and colleagues to take part too!
A few years ago, who would have imagined that East Ayrshire Council would admit completely to its wrong doings over opencast coal, and even vote to begin disciplinary processes against its own employees? Well, that’s what’s happened, with the publication of the Mackinnon report and the Council adopting its findings last week.
– Shouted in the chamber after the final vote was cast
The most truthful statement made at the decision making hearing.
Some were angry, some were sad, some showed despair, some showed steely eyed determination that they will stop this despite the decision. No-one was surprised.
Hargreaves took over the proposal for an opencast on Cauldhall Moor in Midlothian from Scottish Coal, and even managed to keep the same man working on the project, Theo Phillips (ex-Scottish Coal and ex-South Lanarkshire Council Minerals Planning Officer before that.) It seemed like a hard sell. Most of the site was not in an area of search under the councils own local minerals plan.
Cauldhall wasn’t just the first new mine to be determined since the collapse of the Scottish coal industry, it was also the biggest mine to be applied for in a long time. But it seems that Midlothian Council still think it’s a good idea despite the fact that the application contravenes the Midlothian Local Plan & Scottish Planning Policy; the fact that a family home will be demolished; the fact that there are no new plans for making sure that Hargreaves don’t do a Scottish Coal and walk away from their responsibilities to restore the site; and of course, the fact that it’s about digging up the dirtiest fossil fuel when even the UN is now saying it should be left in the ground.
The first new mine application since the collapse of the Scottish coal industry and take-over by vultures Hargreaves has been recommended for approval, despite no changes being made to the system that allowed Scottish Coal and ATH Resources to walk away and wipe their hands of their sites and responsibilities.
The Planning Officer’s report issued ahead of Tuesday’s decision meeting has recommended approval for Cauldhall opencast, ignoring Midlothian’s own local plan and many of the arguments of local residents. See what Stop Cauldhall Opencast have to say about it here.
Stop Cauldhall Opencast are calling for a protest ahead of the Planning Committee meeting on Tuesday 19th to show councillors that strength of opposition to the plans. Please come and support our campaign and say no to opencast. 13:00, Tuesday 19th November, Council Chambers, Midlothian House, Buccleuch St, Dalkeith. Facebook page here.
Last week news emerged that Hargreaves Services CEO Gordon Banham and Group Commercial Director Kevin Dougan pocketed £8.75 million between them through a sale of shares, supposedly for “long term tax planning” reasons. 
Campaigners and community activists in Scotland have slammed what they see as a return to the days when Scottish Coal shareholders took millions out of the business whilst coal sites went unrestored across Scotland, workers were regularly laid off and community benefit payments remained shockingly low.
OPENCAST MINE CLEAN-UP COST ESTIMATES DOUBLE: “GOVERNMENT MUST ACT” SAYS COMMUNITY GROUP
Communities affected by opencast mines have called on the government to act after it was revealed that the shortfall in funds for cleaning up abandoned mines in East Ayrshire has more than doubled.
A report prepared for East Ayrshire Council  and due to be considered by councillors on Thursday says the clean-up of opencast coal mines in the county will cost £161m, but only £28m are available in restoration bonds – a shortfall of £133m. A previous council report in May put the shortfall at £62m – a figure based on estimates provided by KPMG, the liquidators of opencast operators Scottish Coal and ATH.
Cerrejon Coal and the Colombian courts are threatening to evict indigenous and afro-descendent villagers at Roche, in the northern province of La Guajira, on Thursday 29 August. They want to expand their massive opencast mine.
From the London Mining Network:
Cerrejon Coal is owned by three mega mining multinationals listed on the London Stock Exchange and with offices in London: Anglo American, BHP Billiton and Glencore Xstrata. The company has already bullied many villagers into moving to an urban site which is no good for those who want to carry on farming or keeping cattle. The families who remain in the old village are holding out for an agreement that would compensate them for what they have suffered over the past few years as mining has come ever closer to their homes, and move them to a site big enough for them to carry on their agricultural way of life. Continue reading ‘¡No Pasaran! Stop the forced eviction of villagers to make way for British-owned mine!’
Open letter calls for coal mine moratorium and public inquiry as Energy Minister refuses to meet impacted communities2 Comments June 24th, 2013
The Scottish Opencast Communities Alliance (SOCA) has today published an open letter (posted below) to Energy Minister Fergus Ewing MSP, who last week refused to meet with the recently-formed group. The open letter calls for a full public investigation into the opencast coal industry, a moratorium on new developments, the immediate commencement of restoration work and community inclusion in decision-making. As well as SOCA, the open letter is signed by Patrick Harvie MSP, Willie Rennie MSP and Friends of the Earth Scotland.
This morning, the East Ayrshire Council Cabinet will meet to discuss an initial report into the state of the opencast coal mining industry. The report, published yesterday by the Council, highlights publicly for the first time the scale of failings on the part of Scottish Coal and ATH Resources in fulfilling their obligations both to restore sites but also to adhere to the planning conditions imposed by the Council. The report is also a damning indictment of the local authority’s failure to adequately enforce and monitor the conditions it imposed.