Your report on the Cauldhall opencast decision states “it was confirmed that the development would create 344 jobs”. This is nothing more than a speculative claim by Hargreaves. When Scottish Coal was proposing a mine half the size at Cousland in 2010 they expected to create “up to 50” jobs. Do the maths – the claims for Cauldhall are baseless.
More importantly, the council has no way of holding Hargreaves to its jobs promises, and isn’t even proposing to monitor the number of jobs created at the mine. In consenting the mine, the council also chose to ignore Hargreaves’ own insistence that the coal could go to any of 16 power stations, only one of which is in Scotland. Contrary to their own policy, the council has not even considered the impact of the haulage routes to those other locations. Your correspondent John Hogg asks “what arrangements are in place in the form of a bond for land development?”
The answer is, no-one knows – the bond system has spectacularly failed in Scotland and there is no proven replacement for it. He also asks if Hargreaves own the land. No they on’t. The bulk of the land is owned by Rosebery Estates who stand to gain a very large sum of cash from this development. But the council does not propose to make the landowners responsible for any of the restoration of the site. This development is a massive challenge to Midlothian Council’s capacity to enforce planning conditions.
As things stand, the conditions proposed by the council are extremely weak and full of gaps. They seem to have learned nothing from the experience of other councils such as East Ayrshire. I hope your readers will press their councillors to ensure that the planners strengthen the conditions and the legal agreement with Hargreaves. Otherwise we risk yet another coal company trashing the environment, throwing people out of work and walking away with the profits.
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