- 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 communities1 Comment June 24th, 2013trademarks
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.
There once was a company called scottish coal.
That screwed their workers onto the dole.
They dug and dug and left big holes,
Aw tae get a seam o coal.
The countryside was nice and fresh,
Now theyve left, its such a mess.
Theyve put money into a bond,
They r oot the game, weve aw been conned.
The tips are there oh what a state.
Whos left wae the bill tae reinstate.
The board o directors they ran away.
They r aw guilty tae this day
By Crusher Bill
What a great poem! It’s just a shame it’s so accurate. The collapse of Scottish Coal shows what happens when a handful of very rich men are given as much power as the company directors had over workers and communities. Redundancies in Scottish Coal have always been a common occurrence – they rolled with the good times, but when the times got tough the workers were the first to go. Ultimately what happened was inevitable – the bosses expanded far too quickly, stripped everything they could out of the business, let the debts and liabilities pile up and went bust. 590 redundancies, 17 huge scars on the landscape and a legacy of ill health and social deprivation in the communities that had to put up with them. Will these profiteering suits be held accountable for the harm they’ve caused? Only time will tell.
As we reported, the new Scottish Mines Restoration Trust was set up just before Scottish Coal went into liquidation. It’s two directors were also directors of Hargreaves Services, a coal company from England. Well, this week it’s all change as tho two directors, Iain Cockburn and Steve MacQuarrie, both had their directorships terminated on the 29th of April. They have been replaced by Alan Doak, who runs AED Planning & Development Ltd (who applied for the Hardgatehead extension of Wilsontown opencast on behalf of Hall Construction), and Stuart McKay, Head of Scottish Government Fossil Fuels and CCS. Both are on the board for the Restoration Trust, with Doak representing landowners (along with Robert Hyslop) and McKay representing the Scottish Government.
Last Tuesday Scottish Ministers were briefed by Stuart McKay who outlined some of the options being considered by the Restoration Trust. Worryingly, one of the “Alternative Uses” identified for opencast sites is landfill.