The Collapse of Scottish Coal

The mothballing of the Blair House opencast mine between Oakley and Saline last year was an omen of things to come.  At that time, geological difficulties and falling prices for the coal extracted were given as reasons.  Coal prices on the international market are now very low and shall probably stay that way for some time.  It is far cheaper for coal users such as Scottish Power at Longannet to import from half way round the world than to buy local.  Scottish Coal just couldn’t sell its opencast coal and make any profit.

As a local councillor, I opposed planning permission for Blair House when the application came before South West Fife Area Committee in 2008.  Regardless of the economics, the community and environmental price was too high for the relatively small amount of coal to be extracted.  Hindsight is wonderful, but at Blair House we are now left with a large hole replacing a former piece of attractive wild land and, of course, a loss of jobs and amenity.

The administrators for Scottish Coal may rescue something, but I am not optimistic.  Hopefully, the bond in place will help return the site to something acceptable.

The above was originally written for Bill’s Dunfermline Press column. This version may vary slightly.

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