In 2014 X million tonnes of coal was produced from X opencast sites across the United Kingdom, representing X% of the UK’s total coal production and X% of its total coal consumption. [Almost all] of that coal was used in power stations for electricity generation. At every opencast site there are negative impacts: on the surrounding environment, and on the lives and health of neighbouring communities who very often fought – and are fighting – the opening or extension of opencast production.
LAON – the Loose Anti-Opencast Network – represents many of those community campaigns (as do other organisations and their websites such as Coal Action Network and Coal Action Scotland), providing support and a resource to assist their efforts. But LAON also understands that to win the fight against opencast, then it must also be challenged at the level of government energy policy and the planning framework, which previously have been tilted in favour of the industry and against affected communities.
Although the campaigns against opencast have in the past not received the support or attention that they deserved – sometimes leaving communities feeling disempowered and not sufficiently assisted – the tide is now turning as increasingly it is recognised that, of all the fossil fuels, it is above all carbon-intensive coal that must be ‘left in the ground’.
LAON was first established in [date] by Steve Leary, following his involvement in the campaign against the Minorca opencast site where he lives. LAON fell into abeyance in [date] due to a lack of support and resources, but was resurrected by Steve in [date] in a second attempt to provide the individual community campaigns with a more powerful supporting network. LAON is very grateful to the Network for Social Change for its first ever grant, received in April 2014, which has proved essential in allowing that momentum to continue to grow.
Even with this financial assistance, building the strength of a network is a challenging task. Finding the skills and motivated individuals to assist the development of the organisation takes time, and parts of this website will remain ‘under construction’ for the rest of 2015. LAON will welcome offers of assistance from anyone who can make a contribution to this work. Please do contact us.