from Sunday Herald, 27 January 2013
Private companies are planning a massive expansion of opencast coal mining in Scotland, according to information released by the UK government’s Coal Authority.
As many as 21 developments are being proposed across the central belt and in the south to dig out more than 37 tonnes of coal. Many are extensions of existing mines, but some are major new sites.
The largest proposal is by Scottish Coal for Cauldhall in Midlothian, which is believed to contain as much as 10 million tonnes of coal. According to campaigners, this is going to run into major opposition.
More opencast mining is also planned for East Ayrshire, Lanarkshire, Dumfries and Galloway, Fife, the Lothians, Falkirk and the Scottish Borders (see table below). The coal industry says it must expand to survive because existing mines are nearing exhaustion.
But the protest group, Coal Action Scotland, argues that coal is a dying industry that is wrecking the climate and destroying local communities. The industry is facing financial difficulties, it says, which cast doubt on its ability to keep its promises of restoration.