ATH Resources in last minute plead for deregulation and to be allowed to rescind on promises made to local communitiesDecember 11th, 2012
ATH Resources entered administration last week after its spiraling debt was called in by it’s financiers. The financial company responsible for this, Better Capital, have stated that they are ready to invest £15 million in the ATH and the subsidiary that actually does the mining, Aardvark TMC, but at a price. Their money would only flow in exchange for wide ranging removal or reduction in measures put in place to reduce the damage from the open cast mines to the local community and environment. According to the Yorkshire Post, Better Capital Chief Executive, Mark Aldridge (pictured), wants “local councils, landowners, the Coal Authority and environmental bodies to accept lower rewards and be “more flexible” on planning and restoration.”
These tactics are tantamount to blackmail, threatening either unemployment or the ripping up of hard fought for concessions from the coal companies. With the damaging effects of Open Cast Coal well documented, it’s difficult to see how more “flexibility” can be gained without allowing rampant destruction without any control. It also brings into question the point of lengthy planning processes if coal companies are allowed to go back on legally binding agreements when they become too costly.
To the people living near ATH’s open cast sites in East Ayrshire and Fife, this must be a worrying prospect. It may mean longer working hours, more trucks, less money in the community fund, a poor state of restoration, and a greater risk of pollution. This also has wider implications for those living anywhere near open cast coal infrastructure. If ATH is given the go ahead to break it’s promises in the name of “flexibility” then it is a sign of things to come. Scottish Coal and other open cast operators’ bleak financial situation doesn’t look likely to change any time soon. How long before they too are wanting to shirk their responsibilities further still? The question is, will Fife and East Ayrshire Councils, SEPA, The Coal Authority, the landowners and their workers on the mines let them get away with it?