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Press release from Loose Anti-Opencast Network (LAON), 29 September 2014
The fact that UK Coal has now secured its £20m pound loan, in order to allow for the managed rundown of Kellingley and Thoresby Collieries, generated some media interest last Friday. However, no attention was paid to what is to happen to another part of the same deal, the obligation imposed on UK Coal that it had to sell its six surface mines.
After contacting Alison Reid at UK Coal Production today, the Loose Anti Opencast Network received confirmation that the surface mines are still up for sale, initially as a package. The six surface mines which initially formed part of the package were the following:
Butterwell, near Morpeth in Northumberland,
Huntington Lane, near Telford in Shropshire,
Park Wall North, near Crook in County Durham,
Potland Burn, near Ashington in Northumberland,
Lodge House, near Ilkeston in Derbyshire and
Minorca, near Measham in Leicestershire.
Another site which, having had its approval confirmed since the above list was published, can also be added to the list, since it is also up for sale. That is the Shortwood Farm site near Trowel in Nottinghamshire.
Steve Leary for the Loose Anti Opencast Network (LAON) said:
“…When UK Coal first come to an area to publicise their plans for a new opencast mine proposal they use language such as having a ‘partnership’ with local communities and that we are all ‘stakeholders’ who can share in the benefits that can arise from a successful planning application. However, since the latest financial crisis broke in April, local communities have, as far as I know, not been informed that the sites are up for sale. Nor have any assurances been given about the future of any of the sites should the site be sold. We have been left in limbo about what is to happen and we would be happier knowing who is likely to want to buy the site and be secure in the knowledge that whoever bought the site would honour all the planning conditions, especially those concerning site restoration.
“ What’s even more alarming is that UK Coal is trying to secure more planning permissions, piggybacking on what it claims to be its excellent record for working sites and for site restoration, but knowing full well that once approval is given, the site will be put up for sale and they will not be responsible for it.
The latest example of this begins a week on Tuesday, October 7th, when a 2nd Public Inquiry begins into UK Coal’s Appeal over Durham County Council’s refusal to grant planning permission for the Bradley site in Co Durham near Leadgate. We have submitted evidence to the Planning Inspector on why LAON believes that this Appeal should be rejected and two of the reasons  are that the insecure financial state of UK Coal and that the claims UK Coal make about being a responsible and proficient surface miner are worthless if the site is to be sold once planning permission has been granted.
With this degree of insecurity over who will be responsible for working the site LAON argue the Appeal should be rejected.”
A full copy of LAON’s objections and a summary of LAON’s objections can be downloaded from this page on the Pont Valley Network site @
This is the third of a number of press releases LAON will be issuing in the lead up to the Public Inquiry which will explain different parts of LAON’s set of objections. Previous press releases on this topic can be sent if requested. The Public Inquiry begins on Tuesday 7th October in Leadgate Working Men’s Club.
The Pont Valley Network is group of diverse individuals with varied experiences and backgrounds. We understand that as people we don’t always communicate with each other that well. We might disagree or agree with each other for many reasons but we share one thing in common:
We all live or have lived and care for Pont Burn Valley. We recognise its unique heritage and natural beauty and are prepared to work hard to preserve it.
This is a link to their website @
The contact person for the Pont Valley Network is David Mars @    tell 01207 571088
The Loose Anti-Opencast Network (LAON) has been in existence since 2009. It is a UK and Northern Ireland wide network of 30 local community groups opposed to local opencast mine proposals / operations. It functions as a medium through which to oppose open cast mine applications and works with groups where local people feel that such a development is inappropriate.
Steve Leary, LAON’s Spokesperson, at
Tel 05601 767981   or 07711501215
You can now follow LAON on twitter @
Coal Action Network
Whittonstall Action Group, Northumberland,
North Pennine Protection Group,  Northumberland,
Pont Valley Network, Co Durham,
Pittington Residents Group Co Durham,
Newton Lane Action Group, Leeds,
Residents Against Birklands, Gateshead
Cowley Residents Group, Sheffield ,
Skelmansthorpe Action Group, Kirklees
Shortwood Farm Opencast Opposition, Nottinghamshire,
West Hallum Environment Group, Derbyshire,
Smalley Action Group, Derbyshire,
Hilltop Action Group, Derbyshire,
Minorca Opencast Protest Group, Leicestershire,
Campaign Against Great Oak Opencast, Staffordshire,
Stop Opencast at Sharlston, Wakefield
Alumwell Action Group, Walsall
Just Say No to Lignite, N Ireland,
Coal Action Scotland
Mining and Environment Group, East Ayrshire
Saline Parish Hub, Fife
Stop Cauldhall Opencast, Midlothian
Green Valleys Alliance, Rhymney Valley
Residents Against Ffos-y-Fran, Merthyr Tydfil
Merthyr Tydfil Anti Opencast Campaign, Merthyr Tydfil
Llwdgoed Action, Merthyr Tydfil
Varteg Protest, Torfaen
United Valleys Action Group,  Rhymney Valley and
Wales Against Opencast Group.