A SHORTFALL of up to £62 million has been found in the costs of restoring open cast mines in a single council area.
Just over £27.6 million is thought to be in place to pay for work
estimated as high as £90 million, a report to East Ayrshire councillors
It follows the liquidation of Scottish Coal last month at the cost of 600 jobs, many in the local authority area.
Group spokesman Oliver Munnion said: “The restoration bombshell has finally been dropped. In East Ayrshire alone the shortfall could be up to £60 million.
“What about South Lanarkshire, North Lanarkshire, Fife and other areas?
“We’re looking at a £100 million bill that will be dumped on the public purse.
“The mining companies have failed in their statutory obligations but local authorities should have been enforcing the planning rules, and
in this they have failed tragically.”
The council report uses figures provided by liquidators KPMG which estimates restoration costs between £48 million and £90 million.
Bond coverage in Scottish Coal totals £16.1 million, with a further £11.5 million in sites run by collapsed firm Aardvark.
At the upper end, the difference would amount to just over £62 million.
Urging caution with the calculations, the council report still warns of the potential for “significant shortfall” in restoration costs.
In a statement, East Ayrshire Council said 348 people have lost their
jobs, 250 of whom live in the area, and a number of local companies are
affected in the coal supply chain.
Work is under way by specialist mining engineers to investigate the state of each site in the area, along with outstanding restoration work and costs.
The council said Hargreaves Services, described as a leading UK supplier of solid fuels, wants to take over some sites but abandon “extensive areas” of unrestored land.
That approach is being “vigorously challenged”.
Council leader Douglas Reid said: “The coal operators have failed
to live up to their responsibilities and East Ayrshire Council will leave no stone unturned in minimising the effect of this situation on our communities and on the council itself.
“It is vital that we work with other councils affected – South Lanarkshire, North Lanarkshire and Midlothian – to try to stop the liquidators and Hargreaves from abandoning these sites.
“We have never shirked from our responsibilities and we never will, but everyone has a role to play and in recognising how vital the coal industry is to the economy of our country, I am particularly appreciative of the initiative and leadership taken by Fergus Ewing, minister for energy, enterprise and tourism, in establishing the Scottish Task Force and involving Westminster government departments and
our local members of Parliament.”
He welcomed a proposal by the council’s chief executive to independently review the planning process.
“We must, however, never lose sight of the fact that it was the responsibility of the coal companies to clean up behind themselves and restore their land – they didn’t do this and they have reneged on their responsibilities to our communities,” he said.
Source Article from http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/Scottish-news/taxpayers-could-face-62m-bill-1909714
Taxpayers could face £62m bill after East Ayrshire council reveal shortfall for restoring abandoned coal mines