According to informed industry sources, the cash set aside by two major coal companies before they collapsed this year only amounts to a quarter of the sum now needed to restore scarred landscapes as local communities were promised.
As a result most of the mines that are disfiguring large areas of East Ayrshire, Lanarkshire, Dumfries and Galloway, Fife and Midlothian are likely to remain derelict, or to be cleaned up on the cheap.
The revelations have prompted furious reactions this weekend from leading politicians, environmental groups and local communities. It’s a “national scandal” and a “betrayal”, they say.
The falling price of coal forced Scottish Coal into liquidation in April, and another opencast company, ATH Resources, to wind up in May. Their collapse threw the future of 32 opencast sites in six local authorities into doubt.