Rowley and Clarke take coal fight to Parliament Alex Rowley MSP secured a members debate in the Scottish Parliament this week to highlight sheer scale of degradation and blight to Scotland’s landscape that has been left following the collapse of two major mining companies and the abandoned opencast sites they have left behind. He was joined by the Chair of Cowdenbeath Area Committee, Cllr Willie Clarke as both men sought to build support for an exemption from carbon tax that is levied on mined coal. They argue that this money would then be used to support restoration of the sites that were abandoned when ATH who operated Muirdean at Crossgates and Scottish Coal who operated St Ninians at Kelty went into liquidation.
Speaking to the Times Willie Clarke said; “I was pleased to be in Edinburgh to support Alex and what he is trying to achieve. He is rightly highlighting that there are many sites across Scotland where there is no restoration taking place but even in our own area where bonds were in place and have been used to bring about a level of restoration, the carbon tax exemption could result in a far better restoration more like what was agreed when the sites were approved in the first place”.
Introducing the debate in the Parliament Mr Rowley said; “The scale is unprecedented, with some 3,500 hectares of despoiled land and a backlog that represents years of neglect that will take years to sort out. There are multiple dangerous, unprofiled and uncontrolled water bodies, with the sites being too vast to fence, let alone secure. Beyond general flooding and site degradation issues, essential pumping, monitoring and basic security represent on-going costs that will most likely have to be met by local authorities”.
The Fife MSP also questions why those responsible for this environmental disaster had not been held to account. He said; “Although my focus is to raise awareness of the massive environmental nightmare that has been left to scar many parts of Scotland’s countryside, I cannot understand why ATH Resources and Scottish Coal and their Directors have not been under investigation and are not being brought to task for their role in this environmental disaster”.
The Labour politician is calling for Scotland wide support for a proposal brought forward and supported by the remaining coal industry for a ‘Carbon Price Support Exemption’ on coal that is mined with the monies going direct to pay for restoration for these sites. He said; “A problem of such a scale needs a game-changing solution. Whatever solution is found, it must result in a large part of industry capacity being applied to the problem. There is no shortcut or quick solution. The CPS exemption will be the catalyst that focuses effort and attention away from greenfield sites and towards brownfield projects that deliver restoration”.
Mr Clarke concluded; “It is encouraging that there was cross party support for the proposal from within the Scottish Parliament. Fife Council have agreed to support such a scheme and both Alex and I will now be writing to George Osborn urging him to make this happen”.