Campaigners slam Scottish Coal courts petition to walk away from winding up

Published: 22 May 2013 16:45

News

Coal Action Scotland (CAS) has slammed a Scottish Coal appeal to the Court of Session to allow the company and its liquidators to abandon its opencast sites and statutory obligations.

The group, which campaigns against the advancement of coal as an energy source, says Scottish Coal is asking courts to help it walk away from opencast sites and prioritise the payment of their liquidators over all winding up costs.

Oliver Munnion of CAS said: "Scottish Coal is making sure it's taking everyone else down with it. Its petition, which asks permission to walk away from mine sites and prioritise payment of liquidators over planning obligations, was literally bundled through the courts with only three days allowed for objections instead of the usual eight.

"It raises some very serious questions - especially since Scottish Coal implies that local authorities would pick up the cost of putting the sites back together.

"Scottish Coal's petition to the Court of Session also raises questions about the company's finances. In 2011, the company registered assets of £217 million but, in its latest financial report, the figure has reduced to £55 million. No explanation has been offered for the £162 million difference such as what the assets were or where they have gone in that time."

The CAS blog also claims that "Hargreaves Plc is lurking in the background ready to move in on Scottish Coal and already has a hand in Scottish Government 'solutions'".

The entry came after campaigners learned that one of the UK's largest coal companies, Hargreaves Plc, which is tipped to buy Scottish Coal's more productive sites, could be behind Fergus Ewing's new Scottish Mines Restoration Trust - set up on behalf of energy ministers to oversee the restoration of derelict sites.

Munnion explained: "Fergus Ewing announced on April 20 that the Scottish Government was setting up the Scottish Mines Restoration Trust to facilitate the restoration of opencast mines.

"But the Restoration Trust was actually registered as a private company on April 16 - with two directors: Iain Cockburn and Steve MacQuarrie, Group Finance Director and Group Company Secretary for Hargreaves Plc."

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