|East Ayrshire Council: left looking at a large hole in the ground?|
It can be said that promises are cheap e.g. I will still respect you in the morning, there are 6,000 jobs related to this development, etc. That said the news that that taxpayers (in Scotland) could be left to pay a bill of as much as £62m pounds to restore opencast mines in East Ayrshire should make more than a few people sit up and think. An East Ayrshire Council report which has followed the collapse of Scottish Coal and Aardvark (TMC) reports that there is not enough money set aside to pay for remedial work to restore the mining sites. Bonds put up in place to pay for the post open cast mining clear up have been revealed to significantly less than the projected cost of the restoration work. Coal Action Scotland campaigners are understandably angered and have accused the council of basically failing to enforce and monitor its own rules. After the financial collapse of both companies, liquidators from KPMG were appointed at Scottish Coal in April and at Aardvark in May. Aside from the job losses, East Ayrshire Council have been examining who will have to pay for cleaning up various opencast sites which were previously operated by the open cast coal mining firms. A report to the council's cabinet in May stated that KPMG estimated that total restoration costs for the East Ayrshire sites were "in the region of £48m to £90m". The report noted that the potential value of restoration bonds, which are effectively insurance policies for cleaning up the mines after mining has ceased, were worth around £ 16.1 million pounds for Scottish sites and £ 11.52 million pounds for Aardvark sites. With the world market being flooded by cheap US coal as knock on effect of the collapse of US gas prices due to fracking perhaps it is time for some of our politicians in those areas with existing (and potential) open cast coal mines to start asking some questions?