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Defending the Douglas Valley

Hambach Forest Ocupation

South Lanarkshire COALcil

Mainshill Zine

Coal in Scotland

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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.

Continue reading ‘Ex Scottish Coal workers pay for their bosses mistakes’

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 They have been replaced by Alan Doak, who runs AED Planning & Development Ltd (who applied for the Hardgatehead extension of Wilsontown opencast on behalf of Hall Construction), and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.

The briefing’s are available here:
Prof Griggs briefing on the coal industry
The Scottish Mines Restoration Trust

directorsThe dust hasn’t settled, families are still reeling from the mass redundancies, communities are still trying to work out what the future holds for the massive holes in the ground and it seems that the vultures are circling in the form of Hargreaves Services Plc.

Hargreaves are now one of the biggest coal companies in the UK. With a more varied income, spread over many industries, they have weathered the recent troubles that have besieged other coal companies slightly better, despite being forced to close their deep mine at Maltby. This year Hargreaves managed to raise £42 million specifically to move into open cast, or surface mining as they call it. Hargreaves, you may remember, bought £15 million of ATH Resources’ debt and are hoping to take over the profitable sites. On April the 19th, when referring to the acquisition of ATH they said it would “create a platform for the Group to invest in surface mining in Scotland” and that they had “also recently commenced discussions on a second major surface mining asset opportunity.” That same day Scottish Coal went bust. Newspapers for area’s affected by Scottish Coal’s liquidation have also tipped Hargreaves as a possible buyer of some of Scottish Coal’s mines (The Courier, Cumnock Chronicle).

Continue reading ‘Hargreaves Plc lurking in the background ready to move in on Scottish Coal, and already have a hand in Scottish Government “solutions”’

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Coal Action Scotland media release: for immediate use 24th April 2013
Media contact: media@coalactionscotland.org.uk

Scottish Coal ask courts to allow them to walk away from opencast sites as Hargreaves directors set up Restoration Trust on Energy Minister’s behalf

Campaigners are outraged by what they say is a despicable petition to the Court of Session in Edinburgh by liquidators acting on behalf of Scottish Coal, that seeks permission to walk away from mine sites and prioritise the payment of liquidators over planning obligations. [1]

In a separate but related development, campaigners have discovered that Fergus Ewing’s new Scottish Mines Restoration Trust, set up to oversee the restoration of derelict sites as actually registered as a limited company by two of Hargreave’s directors, the very company tipped to buy Scottish Coal’s more productive mines. [2]

Continue reading ‘Scottish Coal ask courts to allow them to walk away from opencast sites as Hargreaves directors set up Restoration Trust on Energy Minister’s behalf’

inc002Whilst a lot has happened in the past few days – secret meetings for MSPs, the liquidation of the UK’s largest opencast operator – a picture of the deal that Fergus Ewing and Russel Griggs are trying to strike to save the opencast industry is increasingly coming to light. Announcements of a new trust for restoration make clear our suspicions that there isn’t anywhere near enough money for restoration, or even the will to use any of it. Rumblings from the Scottish Government and mining companies such as Hargreves indicate that potentially profitable mines will be sold, whilst spent ones lie unrestored and forgotten. The question is: what deal will be struck that will allow other mining companies to operate these mines profitably? And more importantly in the grand scheme of things, what lengths will this SNP government go to save one of the most despised companies in the central belt?

Continue reading ‘Dodgy deals and corporate collusion: SNP still selling communities out to Scottish Coal’

“In light of Scottish Coal’s poor trading and financial position, we have had to cease trading with immediate effect,”
-Blair Nimmo, joint provisional liquidator and head of restructuring at KPMG in Scotland.

Scottish Coal, the UK’s biggest coal producer, has announced today that they are entering administration. Due to recent “significant cash flow pressures” they have laid-off 600 workers and stopped all production at their six open cast sites.

New open cast sites are unlikely to happen, and this is something to be happy about. However, 600 people have lost their jobs, and they won’t be the moneymen at the top, but the workers with little safety net. They have also had their last week of wages stolen, as this won’t be paid. For those living next to existing or unrestored sites this means scars on the landscape that are unlikely to be fixed any time soon. It’s time to get angry, and take back the land and wages that Scottish Coal bosses have stolen.

Guardian Article
Carluke Gazette
Herald Scotland
BBC News

More information and analysis from Coal Action Scotland is expected shortly. Watch this space.

feThe long awaited but closely guarded briefing to MSPs by Professor Russel Griggs and Energy Minister Fergus Ewing took place in the Scottish Parliament today. Despite countless attempts to find details of this briefing – none of which were made publicly available – and after numerous requests to meet with Griggs and MSPs privy to the discussions beforehand, the time and content of the meeting were kept a closely guarded secret. However, shortly before it happened the details were revealed and a Glespin resident decided to attend in person since all other routes for participation seemed closed. The resident wanted to know what was going on, and why no community group in Scotland had been involved in any discussions so far. They also wanted to know if neighboring Glentaggart would ever be restored. The briefing seemed like the place to get these questions answered. Alas, it was declared “private, and for MSPs only”, so the Glespin resident was unceremoniously asked to leave after a short call from the Energy Minister to parliamentary staff. Will the minutes of the briefing be made publicly available? he asked. Nobody knew.

Continue reading ‘Campaigner ejected from “private” briefing as Griggs & Ewing get cold feet over opencast proposals’

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt has recently emerged that Fergus Ewing MSP, the SNP government’s Energy Minister, has been holding secret talks with Scottish Coal to find solutions to the cmpany’s financial difficulties, which currently see it in the hands of its bankers Lloyds TSB. As part of these talks the government has been consulting industry deregulation guru Professor Russel Griggs on issues of opencast restoration. Despite there being no information publicly available about these talks, and every door closed to communities in terms of their involvement in current decision-making, Ewing and Griggs will be briefing MSPs on their proposals at Holyrood on Wednesday 17th April. In order for the industry to be profitable again it must be deregulated – meaning no restoration, no community fund payments and no environmental mitigation – but will the Scottish Government sell communities out for the benefit of a failing company?

Continue reading ‘Scottish Government’s Secret Talks to Save Scottish Coal’

Sabotage at Powharnal OCCS

The following was posted on Indymedia Scotland this morning.

At some point over the past weekend multiple items of plant machinery at an extension to the Powharnal open cast coal site in East Ayrshire were put beyond working use. High value targets including a prime mover and bulldozer were also targeted to cause maximum disruption to workings at the mine.

Scottish Coal is falling and not only do we intend to make sure that they go down – but that they stay down too.

Documents submitted to South Lanarkshire Council have shown that Scottish Coal are requesting an extension and alteration of the planning application for the highly controversial opencast coal mine at Mainshill. Throughout its history, this mine has faced significant objection and resistance from local communities; in part because of its proximity to the local Lady Home Hospital.

Last year, Scottish Coal applied for and were rapidly granted, approval for an extension to working hours at Mainshill leading to almost 24hr disturbance for local residents. According to South Lanarkshire Council’s enforcement officer for the planning department (at the time), Roger Dick, this alteration was granted, “to make up for the poor working conditions over winter, leading to a reduced profitability for the company”. See here for further details on this particular issue.

These latest changes will bring the site within a few meters of residents at New Mains Home Farm and yet closer to the communities of Douglas. It also provides yet another example where Scottish Coal and their apologists at the council, will do little of what they promise and much of what they say they wont do.

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