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Rob Edwards

Many thanks for that information. Much appreciated.

Steve Leary, Co-ordinator, The Loose Anti Opencast Network

Hello again Rob,

A post which I thought I had posted before i wrote the above article has disappeared. Here is the gist of it. Where Is all this coal going to go? Our recent press release from the Loose Anti Opencast Network makes it clear that the market for coal for power generation purposes is in steep decline:


LAON PR 2013 – 19 1/1/13


In 2012, coal as source of energy for power generation purposes has gone through a period of resurgence. Recent statistics from the Department of Energy and Climate Change show a near 50% increase in the use of coal for power generation purposes so far in 2012 when compared to 2011. By October, the consumption of coal for power generation purposes for the first 9 months of 2012, at 44.3m tonnes, had already exceeded the total amount of coal, 41.86m tonnes, used in 2011. However, what we could be witnessing is coal’s swan song.

Fast forwards to 2022 and things could be looking very different. Whereas in 2011, 19 UK power plants were dependent on coal, by 2022 only one may be left, Ratcliffe Power Station on the Trent, which at the most, can burn 7.0m tonnes of coal a year.

Due to the first stage of the EU improving the quality of the air we breathe through the Large Plant Combustion Directive, six coal fired plants are due to close by the end of 2015, Didcot, Tilbury (already converted to biomass) Ironbridge (to be converted to biomass), Kingsnorth, Ferrybridge and Cockenzie.
Of the remaining 13, the companies which operate them have until the end of 2013 to decide on whether to either invest money to upgrade the plants to meet the new pollution standard set by the EU, the Industrial Emissions Directive, or to convert the plant to burning biomass or close the plant. So far the owners of Drax and Eggborough have indicated full or partial conversion to biomass and there are signs that Lynmouth and Rugeley will follow suit.

Decisions still have to be made on the remaining 9 coal fired power stations. The owners have to decide, by the end of this year, if they intend to upgrade their plants to meet the new standard or not.If they take the latter course, then between 2016 and 2020, they can be utilised for another 20,000 hours.
At the same time, the Energy Bill now going through Parliament has, at its heart, the intention to phase out the use of coal for power generation purposes, at least until Carbon Capture and Storage becomes a proven commercial system. It is going to introduce a carbon floor price and provide subsidies for the development of low carbon methods of electrical generation, making the burning of coal a less profitable source of energy production.

This is why it is a ‘Crunch Year for Coal’. Decisions are going to be made in this year which will dictate what the future demand for coal will be in 10 years time.
Those of us in the Loose Anti Opencast Network will be watching closely the decisions to be made about the future use of coal . Today, LAON published its latest review of possible new opencast sites, which can be accessed here:

In it, LAON identifies 26 possible new opencast sites across the UK, 13 in England, 6 in Scotland and 7 in Wales. If some gained planning permission soon, they could be worked long after 2023, when the demand for coal may be a fraction of what it is now.

Future news then, of what is to happen to the remaining 9 coal fired power stations in the UK in 2013 will be watched with interest as campaigners across the UK battle to try to prevent planning permission being given for any new opencast coal site in 2013.

Steve Leary, for The Loose Anti Opencast Network, commented

“Last year may have seen a temporary surge in the use of coal for power generation purposes, but this boom is not reflected in the state of the UK Coal Industry, which ended the year on very low note. The relatively low world price of coal has wreaked havoc across the UK Coal Industry, with deep mines such as Aberpergywm and Maltlby being temporarily closed, an opencast mine, Blair House in Scotland, being mothballed and the four opencast mines worked by ATH Resources facing an uncertain future as the Company went into administration In addition, the UK’s largest coal producer, UK Coal plc was only saved from a similar fate by speeding up a restructuring process – which saves the Company, but leaves the fate of the UK’s largest remaining deep mine, Daw Mill in the balance .

This means that two trends are evident; the domestic coal industry share of the UK coal market for generating electricity continues to shrink, whilst the industry itself becomes more and more dependent on surface mined coal which now supplies two thirds of the UK coal production.

Whilst it seems the UK Coal Industry struggles for survival and looks to the future, it too will be keenly watching to see if the market for coal continues to decline.

The Loose Anti Opencast Network will continue to remind planning authorities who vet new planning applications on two things, that the need for coal for power generation purposes is to decline sharply and that granting new planning permissions risks leaving mothballed opencast sites scattered across the countryside if the price of coal does not improve and the market for coal shrinks. Given the present financial state of the Coal Industry, this is a very real risk.”

A referenced copy of this press release is available from

About LAON

The Loose Anti-Opencast Network (LAON) has been in existence since 2009. It functions as a medium through which to oppose open cast mine applications. At present LAON links individuals and groups in N IRELAND (Just Say No to Lignite), SCOTLAND (Coal Action Scotland) and (Saline Parish Hub). WALES (Green Valleys Alliance, (The Merthyr Tydfil Anti Opencast Campaign and Llwdgoed Action). ENGLAND (Coal Action Network), Northumberland, (Whittonstall Action Group) and North Pennine Protection Group ) Co Durham (Pont Valley Network), Leeds, Sheffield (Cowley Residents Action Group), Kirklees, (Skelmansthorpe Action Group) Nottinghamshire (Shortwood Farm Opencast Opposition), Derbyshire (West Hallum Environment Group, Smalley Action Group and Hilltop Action Group) , Leicestershire (Minorca Opencast Protest Group), Wakefield: Stop Opencast at Sharleston, and Walsall (Alumwell Action Group).

Contacting LAON

Steve Leary LAON’Ss Co-ordinator, at

You can now follow LAON on Twitter @

Steve Leary, Co-ordinator, The Loose Anti Opencast Network

Hello again Rob,

These may be some more sites under consideration to add to your list, but some may be duplicates of those on your list

BENBAIN REMAINDER, CHALMERSTON SURFACE MINE COMPLEX, DALMELLINGTON (East Ayrshire, Application No 12/0093/PP) (Application) (Scottish Coal) (1,200,00 tonnes) (Total size of the site, 723 hectares of which 55 hectares ‘will be disturbed’ by this application.

Notice 26: (Issue 27182), Edinburg Gazette (7/12/12)

“Notice is hereby given that additional further information in relation to an Environmental Statement has been submitted to East Ayrshire Council by the Scottish Coal Company”


More details about this application can be seen here:


(Dumfries and Galloway?) (Exploratory Licence), (Buccleuch Group / Kier Minerals) (no estimate of size)

‘Buccleuch plans for coal mine in the South West’ (Scotsman, 5/10/12)

The Duke of Buccleuch’s private company Buccleuch Group and Kier Minerals are applying for what appears to be an exploratory licence to see if it is worth developing a surface coal mine on the Canonbie coal field. See

‘Green light for Coal Exploration’ (Hexham Courant, 22/11/12)
A public meeting held in Cannobie’s Public Hall, attended by 120 people, was told of Buccleuch Estates plans for an opencast mine in the Cannobe / Longtown area now that they have been granted an exploratory licence by the Coal Authority to carry out exploratory drilling on the site. It could mean 100 – 200 jobs if developing the project goes according to plan, with a planning submission in 2016 and work starting in 2017. However before that can occur, the coal seams will have to be degasified. Johathan Hiller for Keir Mining also said:

“ We are not entirely sure that a coal resource exists and that’s why we need to do the exploration work. We do not know if there is an economic coal resource there.”


GALAWHISTLE (SPIRESBROOK EXTENSION),GLENBURN nr MULKIRK (East Ayrshire) (Application) (Scottish Coal) (3.500,000) (Total size of the site 725 hectares, but this application refers to 108 hectares)

For details of the Application see;

In addition you may be interested in this possible development also on the Cannobie Coal Field:

‘Coal mine near Longtown could create up to 400 jobs and rail freight’ (News and Star, 3/12/12)

Four energy related news stories in the item

• New Age Exploration still intend to develop their Lochinver project, a deep mine on part of the Canonbie coalfield to exploit coking coal deposits. Indications are that the project could directly employ 300 people and create indirectly,another 100 jobs.

• It is intended to transport the coal via a new rail hub

• Elsewhere, on another part of the Canonbie coalfield Buccleuch Estates, in association with surface mine company Kier Holdings still intend to develop surface mine.

• Lastly, Dart Energy, through buying Green Park Energy, have a licence to drill for methane gas on the same coalfield. See

Jim Dopyle

Hi Rob,

I thought I would pass on my thanks for your articles in The Herald;
* Plans for massive expansion of opencast coal
* Green light for plan to drain loch to mine coal
* The dangers of Scotland’s dash for underground gas

I am a resident of Kinnaird Village in Larbert. I was one of the residents how raised a wider awareness in the local area of Dart Energy and their plans for CBM.

As a result of our loose group of residents, and within a week, we had manage to generate enough resident interest for the Kinnaird Primary School hall to be packed out with over 200 people. We had managed to get Dart Energy, Falkirk Councilors, Larbert & Torwood Community Councillors along. This was achieved by a leaflet drop of around 1000 homes. This activity lead towards the Larbert & Torwood Community Council formally lodging their opposition to the Dart Energy Planning application.
(Note: Dart Energy could only get 42 people to take notice of their plans in a 3 month period, having had 5 exhibitions - Now this area, including Stirling, has a population of around 250,000. I had asked Dart Energy if they sacked the person responsible for only achieving 42 attendee's in 5 exhibitions. Dart had said they tried their best to engage with the community. I suspect the person running Darts exhibitions got a bonus and upgrade of company shares).
I'm sure you are aware that the Falkirk Council Planning Committee is to meet this coming Wednesday to make a decision on the application.

(Planning committee meeting: Committee Suite, Municipal Buildings, Falkirk at 09:30 on 30 January 2013)

The residents cannot be certain how this might pan out, but there is hope, at least in the short term, that the Planning Committee will move to have a Public Hearing to be held.
Full details of the meeting and papers can be found at: - click on "View papers" under item 15. The report also contains a summary of all the representations made to date.

Prior to this Planning Committee metting, the Larbert & Torwood Community Council are having their monthly meeting and this will include discussion/update regarding the current Dart Energy planning application. At this public meeting, the community council have requested SEPA to come along and allow residents to ask questions about SEPA's role in CBM extraction, note sure if they can speak about a current and live application.

On a personal front I have been also trying to raise awareness about the subject and had started a twitter account @jd_log.

Also, as a side issue, but related to Dart Energy and CBM:

Eric Joyce MP, letter to Falkirk Herald
A letter from Eric Joyce MP was printed in this week's Falkirk Herald. Mr Joyce is arguing in favour of the CBM development based on cheaper gas prices. The full text of his letter can be found on his website here: . An edited version was printed in the paper.

Mr Joyce has been invited along to the Larbert & Torwood Community Council meeting, will be interesting to see whether he accepts invite!

Lastly, I apologise for this very long email, I had only intended to thanks you for your articles. I guess that's what happens when you get a bee between your ears.

Any way keep up the good work.


Best regards,


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