Colin Beattie, SNP MSP for Midlothian North, has criticised Westminster’s Department for Transport (DfT) for refusing to intervene over freight charges which are threatening the coal industry in Scotland.
The Office of Rail Regulation’s (ORR) proposal calls for an additional charge on coal being used for electricity generation from 2016 of £4.04 a tonne.
This is expected to increase the cost of transporting coal from Scotland to power stations in England by up to 40 per cent.
Mr Beattie said: “The DfT and the ORR have put the future of the Scottish Coal industry in danger as well as jobs of Scottish miners by leading to higher amounts of imported coal.
“The Scottish Coal industry significantly contributes to the economy through surface mining activities. It supports around 3,000 direct, full-time jobs and 4,500 indirect jobs in the Scottish supply chain, and generates approximately £450 million per year in economic value for Scotland.
“The ORR’s proposed increase in charges will have disastrous consequences for the Scottish Coal industry and impede the development of clean coal electricity generation in the future. Westminster must start taking action to prevent freight charges being imposed on the Scottish Coal industry to ensure my constituents and the opencast sector in Scotland are not unfairly penalised.”