‘Urgency needed’ to keep colliery open

Kellingley Colliery

Kellingley Colliery

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“TIME IS running out” for the Government to step in an keep one of Yorkshire’s last remaining pits from closure.

On Friday, UK Coal announced it had secured £20m in loans to fund a managed closure of Kellingley Colliery near Knottingley and Thoresby in Nottinghamshire - including £4m from the Government.

Pontefract MP Yvette Cooper, whose constituency neighbours Kellingley, has called on the Government to urgently explore state aid that would keep the pit open three years beyond its expected closure date of next winter, before mounting costs make keeping the pit open unviable.

She said: “It is my understanding that UK Coal is drawing up a bid for state aid. Unless we have substantial progress before Christmas everyone is afraid it will be too late. We need speed and urgency from the Government to get moving on this.”

Keith Harsthorne, NUM delegate at Kellingley, said: “The lads down the pit are really demoralised because we’ve tried every possible option but it’s still worth keeping up the pressure.”

Energy Minister Matthew Hancock said any decision on further investment would be subject to receiving a plan from UK Coal. He added: “I will continue to work with the company and unions and am personally committed to doing all we reasonably can to support the remaining deep coal pits, subject to getting value for money for taxpayers.”

UK Coal could not be reached for comment.

Last week the company’s spokesman Andrew Mackintosh said the finance deal was critical to avoid insolvency and “the immediate collapse of the business.”

Over the last three years, the company has made mass redundancies as it struggled to stay afloat.

Mr Mackintosh said the deal signalled “the end of UK Coal”, but did not prevent fresh investment in the company, “even at this late stage.”

Raymond Manners.

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