Marchers in bid to extend West Yorkshire colliery’s life

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HUNDREDS of people from across the UK took part in a march and rally on Saturday in a bid to persuade the government to help save Kellingley Colliery from imminent closure.

UK Coal is planning to close Kellingley Colliery, which employs 700 people, later this year.

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Campaigners want to put pressure on the government to accept a current state aid bid and extend the life of the mine to 2018.

Miners were joined on the march through Knottingley by local Labour MP and Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper, veteran Bolsover MP Dennis Skinner and Swansea MP Sian James.

Also marching were members of the South Wales Dulais mining community and the Lesbians and Gays Support Mineworkers group, which featured in the recent hit film ‘Pride.’

Plans have been submitted that could keep the pit open until 2018. But UK Coal chiefs have said they need an answer before March as the cost will become too high to keep the pit open and they are planning major redundancies in April.

Yvette Cooper MP said: “It is 30 years since the end of the strike and people round here haven’t forgotten the fight to keep our pits open. The other pits have closed and now Kellingley is threatened and government ministers need to act fast or it will be too late. There simply isn’t any more time for them to delay or find excuses.

Chris Kitchen, general secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers, said: “We have seen a managed decline of the British deep mined coal industry even though we still rely on coal to keep the lights on. Over 30 per cent of our electricity is generated from coal, this should be British mined coal keeping British mining jobs and skills, not imported.”

A government spokesman said: “We have now received a plan from the company and will look carefully at their proposal, bearing in mind that we must make sure that taxpayers receive value for money.”

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