The press release below is the latest from from The Minorca Opencast Protest Group in Leicestershire and was published yesterday. The group are also opposing a UK Coal planning application and sent this in response to a recent Indymedia post as a message of support to the Black Wood Solidarity Camp.
Minorca Opencast Protest Group media release:
A SPATE OF BAD NEWS STORIES HITS UK COAL plc
Since the news was announced on March 10th that Hargreaves Services was in talks with UK Coal plc about a possible merger of each company’s deep mine interests, it seems that UK Coal plc has been the subject of a number of bad news stories covering four different locations in England and one in Scotland.
The announcement of Hargreaves interest in UK Coal plc coincided with the publication of an independent report “UK Coal plc: An Alternative Report” (1) on UK Coal plc, published by the Minorca Opencast Protest Group (MOPG). The group are opposing an application made by UK Coal plc for an opencast mine on the Minorca Colliery site in Leicestershire. Their report detailed recent losses the company had accumulated on its coal operations, was critical of how it used the term ‘brownfield’ land to suggest it could enhance the value of its land bank and drew attention to how the company provoked local controversies when it sought to develop the value of its land bank. This part of the report drew on three case studies which included the Cutacre site in Bolton and the Lounge site in Leicestershire.
Subsequently, and this may just be a coincidence, the Leicester Mercury on 23rd March carried a news story entitled “Mining company could face court over restoring Leicestershire land” (2) which reported that Leicestershire County Council had decide on giving UK Coal plc three months to resolve the problems to do with the Lounge site before seeking a court order which would force the company into restoring the site.
It will be the same Council who will decide on UK Coal plc’s application to operate an opencast mine on the Minorca site, itself the subject of some controversy due to the time taken by UK Coal plc to complete its planning application. This application is due to be determined on May 20th.
On Wednesday March 24th The Bolton News published “Cutacre acts as a warning to all” (3). This story, on MOPG’s report, highlights how other communities faced by the prospect of opencast mining and could face a ‘Cut acre Experience’, where the promise of restoration of the site to agriculture use and a country park is replaced, all of a sudden, by the prospect of an enlarged industrial estate. According to the news report, Stuart Oliver, UK Coal’s Media Spokesperson is reported as condemning the MOPG report, calling it a “hotchpotch of half-truths, lies and make believe” although he was unable to pinpoint any specific inaccuracies.
At the same time UK Coal plc faces problems on two sites for opencast coal where it has recently won planning permission. These sites, Huntington Lane in Telford and Wrekin and Blair House in Fife, Scotland have now both been occupied by anti coal protestors according to recent reports. A story in The Shropshire Star “Protestors dig in over mining plans” (4) occupation of the Huntington Lane site began over the weekend of 20/21st of March. Later the BBC reported in its news story “Campaigners protest at Fife Mine Site” (5) on 22/3/10 that the Blair House site was also being occupied.
1) “UK Coal plc: An Alternative Report”, Stephen Leary, Minorca Opencast Protest Group, March 2010. See:
2) “Mining company could face court over restoring Leicestershire land”, The Leicester Mercury, 23/3/10. See
3) “Cutacre act as a warning to all”, The Bolton News, 24/3/10. See:
4) “Protestors dig in over mining plans”, Shropshire Star, 22/3/10. See:
5) “Campaigners protest at Fife Mine Site”, BBC News (Scotland), 22/3/10. See: