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.
This determination was political – the SNP can’t be seen to be supporting opencast on a national level and rejecting applications on a local level. Midlothian Council is SNP-dominated. For all the hype about major changes being made to the industry there have been none. Even the coal bosses are the same – Theo Philip, Hargreaves employee doing their planning currently, used to do the same for Scottish Coal (and before then worked for South Lanarkshire Council, but that should come as less of a surprise!).
The good news though is that campaigners have vowed to continue their struggle and to hound Hargreaves at every opportunity. For updates on the campaign see http://stopopencast.org.uk/
For Stop Cauladhall Opencast press release see here: http://stopopencast.org.uk/?p=454