Rigg North Opencast Application Withdrawn

We have just received news via the Scottish Opencast Communities Alliance (SOCA) that Hargreaves Services have withdrawn their application for a 945,000 tonne extension to their Rigg Farm opencast site in Dumfries and Galloway in Scotland, known as Rigg North.

SOCA’s press release on this news is reproduced below:




Coal operator Hargreaves has withdrawn its application for a new opencast coal site at Rigg North, near Kirkconnel in Dumfries & Galloway. The Scottish Opencast Communities Alliance (SOCA) has welcomed the withdrawal and called on coal operators to withdraw the remaining eight applications for new sites in Scotland.

SOCA Chairman Malcolm Spaven said

“the Rigg North application was languishing in the planning system for more than four years. Other applications have been sitting in the system for as much as twelve years. They’re zombie applications, with no prospect of being developed, because the market for coal has collapsed. We welcome the withdrawal of Rigg North and Hargreaves’ admission that keeping it going caused blight to local communities. It’s now time for them to withdraw all their other applications that are causing blight to people across central Scotland.”

Spaven added

“we can now finally dispel the myth that extracting more coal can provide jobs and fund restoration. We need all parties – local authorities, Scottish and UK Governments and the coal operators – to focus on finding the money to properly restore the many abandoned sites across the country.”

In addition to Rigg North, the following applications for new opencast sites are still live in the (Scottish) planning system:

Cauldhall Moor, Midlothian, Hargreaves

Duncanziemere Extension, East Ayrshire, Hargreaves

Carsgailoch Hill, East Ayrshire, Kier Mining

Glentaggart East South, Lanarkshire, Hargreaves

Hardgatehead, South Lanarkshire, Hall Construction

Headlesscross East, North Lanarkshire, Hargreaves

Wellsgreen, Fife, Hall Construction

Wester Greenhill, Falkirk, Chartmount Minerals”

LAON supports this call that it’s time for coal operators to recognise that the demand for coal for power generation has collapsed in the UK – it provided less that 5% of the energy mix in the UK in May 20016 for example. The coal price has also collapsed and shows BlueHost little sign of recovering to a price which makes UK Coal extraction economically viable ( around £45 per tonne, it’s currently around £35 per tonne) Even if the global price of coal did start to recover, the evidence in the UK is that Gas would then undercut the price of coal.

More Coal Operators should do the decent thing, withdraw their applications where they are still current, and, where they have valid applications, but no intention of developing sites, they too should indicate that they have no further interest in developing the sites and thus prevent further planning blight. For these sites see our previous press releases :

Steve Leary for LAON