South Scotland

Kirkconnel opencast mine proposal withdrawn

Coal Image copyright Thinkstock

Plans for an opencast mine near Kirkconnel in Dumfries and Galloway have been withdrawn due to the "challenging economic climate".

It had been hoped the Rigg North scheme could provide 30 jobs.

However, coal production firm Hargreaves has now informed Dumfries and Galloway Council it does not wish to take the project forward.

The Scottish Opencast Communities Alliance (SOCA) welcomed the move and called for other schemes to be dropped.

Hargreaves told the council it had undertaken a comprehensive review of the Rigg North project.

It said the coal industry had been going through a "very tough time" in recent years.

The company added that forecasts did not predict a rise in prices in the "foreseeable future".

That has prompted the company to conclude that it was "difficult to foresee a time" when conditions would be right to start operations.

It said that it acknowledged that it was unfair to leave the scheme in abeyance for an "excessive period" as the uncertainty left an "element of blight over neighbouring properties".

'Zombie applications'

The company stressed that despite the decision it remained "very committed" to the region.

The decision to withdraw the application was welcomed by SOCA chairman Malcolm Spaven who called for other applications by a number of different companies across Scotland to be withdrawn.

"They're zombie applications, with no prospect of being developed, because the market for coal has collapsed," he said.

"We welcome the withdrawal of Rigg North and Hargreaves' admission that keeping it going caused blight to local communities."

He claimed it was time to "finally dispel the myth" that extracting more coal could provide jobs and fund restoration.

"We need all parties - local authorities, Scottish and UK governments and the coal operators - to focus on finding the money to properly restore the many abandoned sites across the country," he said.

He cited sites in Midlothian, East Ayrshire, South Lanarkshire, North Lanarkshire, Fife and Falkirk as examples of similar applications to the one at Rigg North.

Related Topics

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites