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Below is a letter to the editor published in the Carluke and Lanark Gazette 3/9/09...

Duty to inform

Dear Ed,
It is clear that our community is concerned about the possible health risks arising out of open cast coal mining in this area.
Open cast coal mining has been taking place in this area for about twenty years and Douglas is presently the centre of three open cast coal mining sites with a fourth at Mainshill planned to start.
The question which needs to be considered and investigated is whether these open cast mining operations result in the creation of air pollutants or particulates.
As a local general practitioner, I feel a heavy responsibility to ensure that any public health risks are properly addressed and responsibly managed.
In a previous letter to you, I made reference to the fact that the matter of the health risk was still under discussion and needed to be fully discussed as part of the planning application.
However, I have recently come across a report by the Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants an expert committee that advises the UK government.
That committee asserts that "we are left with little doubt that long-term exposure to all pollutants has an effect on mortality and thus decreases life expectancy".
It also alludes to the existence of new evidence which has "strengthened the association, particularly with particulates".
Evidence for the harmful effects of particulate pollution has also been highlighted in two major US studies both in the New England Journal of Medicine. The entire report can be read at www.advisorybodies.doh.gov.uk/comeap/finallongtermeffectsmort2009.htm
This expert evidence does lead me to feel strongly that the issue of the public health risk of particulates resulting from open cast mining coal should be fully addressed by the authorities.
Clearly one extreme would be to seek to terminate all current open cast coalmining operations.
At the other extreme is to cast aside health risk fears and look favourably on new applications for opencast mining as the providers of an important industry to the local economy and a provider of jobs.
In the light of my concerns, which have been triggered by expert medical evidence, there is at least a case for managing and controlling the extent of the open cast coal mining sites in this area.
It is not my wish to create a panic about this in the area.
However, it is my duty as a doctor to inform the debate about potential health risk of open cast mining in our locality.
Yours etc.,
DR ROBERT FLOWERDEW
DR MICHAEL COATES,
Glentaggart Farm,
Glespin.

Green Party MSP Patrick Harvie article 1/5/09


PASSING THE BUCK?

The controversial Mainshill opencast mine has been given the go ahead — after the Scottish Government refused to intervene in the planning application.

Under new planning regulation, Circular 3, introduced on April 1, the Government has decided that South Lanarkshire Council is best placed to handle the application.
A Government spokesman said: "The new regulations are designed to make planning easier and reform is a priority for the Scottish Government.
"We have had complaints from people across the country that the system is slow. The new system means we can look at the application and consider what the best way forward is.
"In respect to this particular decision the Government felt that the decision would be better taken by the local authority."
The decision has angered many locals in Douglas most notably pressure group Morag, set-up to oppose Mainshill.
More than 700 people signed a petition in protest and Morag chairman Kenny Sludden believes local views have not been taken into consideration.
He said: "The news that the Scottish Government has passed the Mainshill application back to the council is extremely disappointing for local democracy.
"The Communities Minister previously stated that planning system reforms would ensure a planning system based on plans that have been drawn up with the full participation of local people, and with a full assessment of their environmental impacts.
"Fine words indeed but they mean exactly nothing!
"It's another example of a complete lack of environmental protection by local authorities and national government.
"When the landscape starts to be torn up, the lorries start rumbling, and the dirt and the noise proliferates for five years, I'm sure those who didn't object or supported the application for their own self interests, will come to regret it."
Scottish Coal plans to extract 1.7 million tonnes of coal from Mainshill — which is less than one mile from Lady Home Hospital.
A spokesman said: "We are pleased that Scottish Ministers have passed the planning application back to the council to allow it to issue the planning permission.
"This is decision is welcomed by the company as it will allow for the retention and creation of jobs in the local area and the continued supply of indigenous coal."
Morag's campaign gained support from Clydesdale MP David Mundell and South of Scotland MSP Aileen Campbell.
Mr Mundell asked Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change Minister Stewart Stevenson to look into the application.
He said: "I'm disappointed that the Scottish Government did not call in this application, particularly when there were such a significant number of people who objected.
"Constituents had told me they would like to have given evidence against the proposed quarry. "
Ms Campbell conducted a survey in the village, in which 70 per cent of respondents objected to the mining plans.
She added: "I will be seeking a meeting with council officials to discuss the future of this development, to express again the concerns highlighted and to let them know why people feel so let down by previous planning decisions."
Clydesdale MSP Karen Gillon said there were pros and cons to both sides of the argument.
And a council spokeswoman said: "The planning application was referred to the Scottish Government and it has written back to the council confirming that the council can decide the application as it sees fit.
"On completion of the legal agreement, consent will be issued by the council and Scottish Coal will decide when to implement it."

By Ross Thomson
Carluke and Lanark Gazette 30/4/09

 

Letter to the Carluke and Lanark Gazette Editor – MAINSHILL OCCS APPLICATION

South Lanarkshire Council Planning Dept have published their Report to Committee regarding the application by Scottish Coal for an opencast coal mine at Mainshill, near Douglas, and have recommended acceptance. First of all I would like to say that this report does not contain all of the facts, omits important objection points, and is biased towards acceptance
The report tells us that Mainshill contains a coniferous forest and clearly omits the fact that it also contains part of an Ancient Woodland with many decidous trees, hundreds of years old

Although coal transport vehicles will not pass through Douglas, the main commuting route for Douglas Residents is along the A70 to and from Lanark and as such will be affected by the increased traffic – approx 70 lorries per day. Over the last few years there have been a series of road traffic accidents involving coal lorries tipping over and blocking the road.

This report does not take proper and justified cognisance of the 653 letters of objection received. This figure amounts to approx 55% of the electorate of Douglas, and when you consider that under the old voting system in Clydesdale, Karen Gillon was elected with 43% of the vote of the electorate and indeed Councillor Meikle of the Douglas ward was elected with 36% of the vote, this level of objection should be given a much higher priority than it does in this report.
Additionally the report gives much credence to the fact that a letter of support was received from a group known as ‘Friends of the Lady Home’. In fact it is mentioned 3 times in this report. Why would a group of ‘friends’ of any hospital, support an opencast coal application with its incumbent dirt and noise, within 1km of the facility? The answer of course is the promises they have been made by Scottish Coal for car parks, double glazing, etc. and the lure of trust fund money going towards their favoured projects.
On the other hand a detailed letter of objection was submitted by Dr Ian Kane, a well respected local doctor with over 30 yrs experience practising in the local surgery and the Lady Home Hospital, outlining his grave concerns, including the health of the community, at this development. Similarly the Clinical Nurse Manager in charge of the hospital also wrote a letter of objection. Yet these objection do not even merit a mention in this report
The report also does not satisfactorily deal with the issue of cumulative impact. There are currently 7 consented sites within 5km of Mainshill including three separately consented sites at Broken Cross which is not made clear in this report, and a further sand and gravel operation at Poneil, which Scottish Coal has no control over. It is difficult to see why these developments together are not deemed to be a negative environmental impact through the cumulative effect

In the Non Technical Summary supplied by Scottish Coal it states that-
The history of mineral workings in the area will also reduce the effect that the proposed OCCS would have on the existing landscape, as it would not appear as an unrecognisable feature introduced into the landscape.
In other words what is another black hole among those already their
It also states that
Views of the Mainshill site together with any other cumulative site are seen only in succession and are of short duration due to local landform and vegetation, as well as the speed of traffic on the motorway.
In other words if you fly along the motorway at 70mph you may miss one of these developments
As they always do, the applicant claims that the proposed development area will be restored to a better quality than its current condition. Well all I can say about that is Dalquhandy, which started 16 yrs ago, and finished coaling 6 years ago, has still not been restored
There is a massive deep hole filled with stagnant water which is called a ‘water feature’, (if it wasn’t so serious it would be laughable), in which nothing grows, and has been incorporated in the restoration plan simply to avoid the cost of infill.
On that basis, at Mainshill we are going to be left with another shambles a la Dalquhandy
Scottish Planning Policy 16 states that there are two criteria on which the application should be judged
i) Is the proposal environmentally acceptable or can be made so

ii) Does the proposal provide local or community benefits which outweigh the disbenefits

i) How can it possibly be environmentally acceptable to remove an afforested area containing trees hundreds of years old, and a coniferous forest which together act as a carbon sink, a stated measure of reducing carbon emissions, and destroy an Area of Greater Landscape Value. Then proceed to spend 5 years burning massive amounts of fossil fuel using plant to dig coal out of the ground, transport the coal long distances emitting more carbon, and finally burning it in a power station with further carbon emission.

The Scoping Report states that the site at Mainshill is well positioned to supply coal to Longannet Power Station. It is 186 km of a round trip between the two places!

ii) The report states that 93 jobs will be created. If one thing that 16 years of opencast mining on our doorstep has shown us, it is that the number of created jobs in these applications never come to fruition, and more importantly only a small percentage of these jobs are available for the local community
These sites are manned by transient workers who move from site to site working long hours. They do not spend any money locally and therefore do not contribute to the local economy.
This development could not be in a more prominent position, as it is right at the side of the road on the doorstep to our village. The large majority of people entering and leaving Douglas do so from the Eastern side via the A70, therefore this development will be highly visible to commuters and tourists alike
So far from providing benefits, the local economy suffers from these developments as tourists and visitors drive on and avoid the area altogether when they see the black holes in the ground and are continually held up behind coal lorries spilling dirt and dust
It will provide few benefits and many disbenefits and will be environmentally damaging to our community and on a national scale
The application now goes to the Scottish Government, where it is anticipated a much more balanced view will be taken, resulting in the rejection of this application.

Kenny Sludden


 
Click HERE for Mainshill information search via Carluke and Lanark Gazette
 
and HERE for Lanark and Carluke Advertiser (February 2009)

News items & letters from local & national press

Protestors close down opencast depotcoal protest at ravenstruther rail termimal - copyright of the carluke & lanark gazette
They chain themselves to gates and equipment at Ravenstruther site

 
A surprise raid by about thirty environmental protestors closed down the Ravenstruther opencast coal rail depot for several hours on Monday.
Their action, which included several protestors chaining themselves to gates and equipment, came on the eve of an expected go-ahead for even more opencast mining development in Clydesdale.
Six persons, three men and three women, were arrested and were due to appear at Lanark Sheriff Court on Tuesday.
It is understood that the demonstration was conducted in a civilised manner and none of the charges relate to any acts of violence; no protestors or police officers were hurt during the protest, the atmosphere of which was described by a British Transport Police spokesman as "peaceful and polite" throughout.
The eight hour long action, which was broken up by a very heavy police presence with officers armed with chain cutting equipment, was not directly centred on Tuesday's expected go-ahead by South Lanarkshire Council for extensions to the Glentaggart opencast mine, which will bring workings closer to the community of Glespin.
A spokeswoman for protest organisers, Coal Action Scotland, Tilly Gifford, told the Gazette - as the police moved in to break up the demonstration on Monday morning - that the protest had been mainly prompted by a government policy statement on Friday, announcing the building of new coal-fired power stations.
Tilly said: "If they do this they've no chance of hitting their stated targets for lowering carbon emissions.
This is step backwards, not forwards.
This is not only a cheap and nasty solution to the country's power needs but also a short-sighted one.
"We see the current financial crisis as an opportunity for a proper look to be taken at the country's future power industry, not just burning more and more coal."

To read the full Carluke and Lanark Gazette story by Ron Harris click HERE
17/12/08
Picture copyright of the Carluke and Lanark Gazette

 
BBC Panorama
Click on the above to watch / download programme (only available from BBC iPLayer for a limited time)

Should burning British coal help secure the UK's future energy supply? The Government thinks so. In an apparent U-turn, it is backing a new wave of opencast mining in spite of fierce opposition from local communities.

But what will be the cost to the countryside, and can coal ever come clean to match our promise to cut carbon emissions?

Broadcast on:BBC One, 8:30pm Monday 1st December

Morag campaigns for the long haul

We’re in it for the long haul - that's the message to Scottish Coal from opencast mine pressure group Morag.
The group, set up to oppose the planned Mainshill opencast in Douglas, has already had quite an impact with the local community and shows no signs of slowing down.
Morag chairman Kenny Sludden said: "We've got a long way to go as it could be 2010 until work could start.
"We have contacted Lord Home and he was given 550 signed letters from people in the village.
"I have had people come to me and say they have had a response from him, which is good.
"A total of 670 letters of objection that went to the council, which is over half the electorate of Douglas.

"We have also had meetings with David Mundell MP and Aileen Campbell MSP and they have been a big help."
Opposition began when it emerged that Scottish Coal were planning to begin opencast operations at Mainshill, which is less than one kilometre from the Lady Home hospital.
Scottish Coal want to extract 1.7 million tonnes of coal and 160,000 tonnes of fireclay over a five year period.
Douglas Community Council voted to support Morag in its efforts after a meeting in July.
The Gazette made several attempts to contact Scottish Coal, but all were unsuccessful.

Carluke and Lanark Gazette
2/10/08

28/9/08
By Billy Paterson

THE leader of Scotland's miners has protested after a boss sent out a sick text message comparing him to pop paedophile Gary Glitter.
Outraged T&G convener Jim Walls said the jibe was part of a dirty tricks campaign being waged by Scottish Coal.
The text, sent to at least 50 workers, states: "Gary Glitter has gone to stay with Jim Walls. If anyone can teach him how to **** about with miners, it's him!"
Jim, 39, is at the forefront of a dispute with Scottish Coal over pay and conditions of 400 union members.
The dad-of-five, of New Cumnock, Ayrshire, said: "This was sent by a Scottish Coal supervisor and then forwarded to me.
"I am outraged and my wife Donna and my family are furious. No one I have spoken to about this - and it was sent to at least 50 colleagues - finds it funny.
"Some things you just don't joke about. As one of the workers said to me, 'It's better to be called a murderer than a paedophile'.
"The original message had Maggie Thatcher's name in it and someone substituted my name.
"It's another in a long list of dirty tricks to blacken my name. If one of our members had circulated this using the name of a Scottish Coal director, they'd be sacked.
"Scottish Coal have asked me to put my complaint in writing. I've also contacted my lawyer to sue for defamation."
Jim's solicitor Patrick McGuire said: "He sees it as an unacceptable slur on his character."
Glitter was released from jail in Vietnam on August 19 after serving two years and nine months of a three-year sentence for sex crimes involving two girls aged 11 and 12.
A Scottish Coal spokesman said: "We take complaints from staff very seriously. We have asked Mr Walls to provide further details to let us investigate the matter fully."
Click on the headline above to read The Earl of Homes letter to the community
5/9/08


'The Cost of Coal'
Sunday Herald
1/9/08


Coal company fined £400,000 over deaths of two workers
Click on the headline above for full story
Telegraph
26/8/08


'Double Fatality'
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Health & Safety Executive
26/8/08


'Scottish Coal fined over fatal accident'
Click on the headline above for full story
STV News
26/8/08


'Company fined over miner deaths'
Click on the headline above for full story
BBC News
26/8/08

The incident has shocked the mining community in Ayrshire
Click on the headline above for full story
BBC News
Feb' 2007


'Coal bosses try to blame dead miners for tragedy'
Click on the headline above for full story
Sunday Mail
24/8/08


Click on the headline above for full story
Hamilton Advertiser
7/8/08

Below are letters to the Carluke and Lanark Gazette editor from 7/8/08 edition...
 
Lop-sided input

Dear Ed,
It was a lop-sided and somewhat disappointing input from Dr Scott on the open cast coal mining debate in the Douglas Valley (Gazette, July 31).
A robust defence of the Home family and D&A Estates, replaced his previously published forthright views on Scottish Coal, Opencast Coal Mining and its environmental and health effects.
The leaflet he refers to contains many factual statements on these issues.
However, he prefers to concentrate almost all of his letter on our reference to the Earl of Home?
He takes our group to task for mentioning the substantial income the Earl will receive. It would surely be a strange and weak protest group that did not highlight the financial benefits of the incumbent landowneras as part of its objection.
In a previous written reply to a concerned Douglas resident, the present Earl stated 'we discovered that the owners of Mainshill Wood were about to come to an agreement with a coal extractor to take coal out of the wood. We were able to buy back Mainshill, albeit at a higher price, and at least we have control of that area.
'Had we not done so and if planning permission had been given, that area would now be being worked on'.
The inference here that Mainshill was now safe in D&A hands would appear not to be the case.
It would be ideal to have some honest and straightforward answers from those parties in this ongoing discussion, so that this community could decide on the pros and cons of OCCSs.
However, after almost 20 years of misinformation, it is difficult to trust any statements issued.
They are businesses whose primary consideration is to maximize profit for shareholders and they are adept at influencing fund-seeking ears and creating fissures within communities.
Scottish Coal's application for Broken Cross OCCS, where SLC stated 'the applicant has provided as part of its supporting information an appraisal of the reserves out-with the site and has expressed its intention not to apply for an extension to operations at Broken Cross'.
It has since been granted two extensions, North and South of Broken Cross, to mine a total of 4.5m tonnes of coal!
Dr Scott is also very remiss to put forward the suggested wish of Scottish Coal that the bulk of the levied income from Mainshill to the Rural Communities Trust could go to this, community.
As he should know, and Scottish Coal certainly knows, this is not possible, as SLC Report of March 21, 2007, item 4.1(e) states — Any income received by SLRCT in excess of £50,000 pa plus administration costs will be transferred to South Lanarkshire Leisure (SLL) for the sole purpose of operating and maintaining Coalburn Leisure Centre.'
Therefore, even if there was £500k income from Mainshill, there will be a maximum of £50k available for distribution to the whole of South Lanarkshire I would remind this community that without the hard work of previous action groups such as UAP, and paradoxically, individuals such as Dr Scott, we would be sitting with a massive hole full of human waste on our doorstep, the Long Plantation gone, and further decimation of our Area of Greater Landscape Value and Ancient Woodland.
There is a continual disturbing reference to those who object to blanket open cast coal mining as extremists and being anti-everything.
We are neither anti-coal, anti D&A, or even anti-Scottish Coal.
We are pro-environmental protection, pro-community well-being, and we will continue to endeavour to protect our community from all sources of exploitation and pollution.
Finally, we have requested that Douglas Community Council carry out a local referendum or similar democratic process on the proposed opencast coal mining of Mainshill Wood to seek the views of their remitted electorate.
Let us all take cognisance of the outcome of that exercise. — Yours etc.,
KENNY SLUDDEN,
Castleview,
Colonels Entry,
Douglas.
 
No more mining

Dear Ed,
COTE (Communities on the Edge). What an apt way to describe the Douglas Valley.
The area will soon be perched on the edge of yet another large opencast site, this time on the south side of the valley. Unfortunately, Douglas is coal rich, and plans are again afoot to exploit this.
As fuel prices escalate, and food prices reach record levels, it may be in the very near future a more viable option to deep mine these coal seams and leave the surface of the valuable arable land to allow local farmers to produce the much-needed food required to feed the population.
Coal production stopped in this area 50 years ago, leaving more coal behind than was ever extracted.
Apart from the large slag heap or 'Bing' at Douglas West, very little evidence remains of a once thriving industry. Somehow, I don't think the same will be said of opencast mining, as these large holes keep blotting the landscape. 'No I say 'No more Opencast' — it does not bring any real benefits to any area. Leave the coal where it is until a more beneficial method of extraction can be used.
Coal pits employed all types of tradesmen besides miners — electricians, blacksmiths, engineers, joiners, bricklayers and clerks to name but a few. Don't let the quick buck people destroy this valley.
South of the Scottish border and elsewhere in Europe, coal extraction is almost at a standstill with most deep mines being "mothballed". Why?
There are as many opencast sites in the Ayrshire area of Dalmellington than there is in the whole of England!
Yours etc.,

JOHN BRODIE,
(Ex-Miner),
Dale Street,
Douglas.

'SCOTTISH COAL CHARGED WITH HEALTH AND SAFETY BREACHES'

Click on the headline above for full story
Cumnock Chronicle
6/8/08

Click HERE for Cumnock Chronicle breaking news article from January 2008


'Climate activists at Longannet call for closure date'

Click on the headline above for full story
Indy Media UK
6/8/08



'Scottish Coal charged over miners’ deaths'

Click on the headline above for full story
The Herald
August 2008



'Charges brought over mine deaths'

Click on the headline above for full story
BBC News
6/8/08


'Opencast plans won’t threaten Douglas hospital'

Click on the headline above for full story
Hamilton Advertiser
31/7/08

Below are letters to the Carluke and Lanark Gazette editor from 31/7/08 edition...
 
Mixed views on mining
Dear Ed
Are there two Robert Wilsons in Douglas?
It was with some incredulity that I read the letter on opencast mining in the Douglas Valley, from Robert Wilson in last week's Gazette (July 24).
I have in front of me a number of letters previously written by Mr Wilson and published in the press on the same subject. To say they are in stark contrast is to put it mildly.
He previously wrote of the Long Plantation application, which is a very similar area to Mainshill Wood, 'this is an area of outstanding beauty, and contains rights of ways, which will disappear.
'Make no mistake about it, if they (Scottish Coal) receive planning consent to mine in this area, the effect on the village of Douglas, will be devastating'.
Again he wrote, 'what I haven't read about is any consultation they have had with local doctors on their concerns regarding the health of the villagers of the valley.
'I and many others know the concerns of the doctors, about the effect this concentration of open-cast mining will have, 20 years down the line.
'One figure I can quote for, is that deaths from cancer show a 23 per cent increase above the Scottish average whilst Disability Living Allowance claimants are 52 per cent above the Scottish average.
'We in the Douglas Valley have had to fight throughout the generations for our rights and this is another fight we have on our hands'.
His previous angry comments and disparaging remarks with regard to Scottish Coal and SLC re opencast mining in the Douglas Valley are totally at odds with his recent statement proclaiming the benefits to be had from opencast mining and the merits of Scottish Coal.
What can have happened to cause such a u-turn?
As to his question of where the figure of £50,000 maximum available for South Lanarkshire from the Rural Communities Trust came from, it came directly from the minutes of a South Lanarkshire Council meeting on the issue of the RCT and the funding of Coalburn Leisure Centre.
Our group is as good a cross section of representation of the local population as you will get anywhere.
With regard to his comment regarding village infighting causing lack of forthcoming benefits, his amazing u-turn and ill informed remarks will only inflame further discord.
He has certainly lost the respect of many people in this community, including myself, through his double standards and disingenuousness.
Yours etc.,
KENNY SLUDDEN,
MORAG chairman,
(Mainshill OCCS Rejection
Action Group).



EARL PILLORIED:
Dear Ed
Further to the letters from Carol Gentle and Robert Wilson in last week's Gazette (July 24) I note that leaflets from the group objecting to the Mainshill Wood Opencast application are now being distributed in the village of Douglas.
It is to be hoped that there can be reasoned and civilised discussion on the matter but it seems that the Earl of Home is being pilloried in the leaflet for giving consent to the project on his land.
The leaflet refers to the Earl as the holder of a title "once revered as the guardian of Douglas".
I am sure that the present Earl's late father Lord Home of the Hirsel would have been amused to hear himself described as "revered" — respected certainly but Scottish mining populations were never much given to reverence for peers of the realm, least of all those standing for Parliament as Unionist candidates.
As an example, in his autobiography he describes an undignified departure from one rather boisterous meeting via a rear window when the platform was stormed!
On a more serious note, it is perhaps not evident to some of the local population 'just how many village organizations benefit from help of various types freely given by Douglas and Angus Estates.
The list includes the provision of the museum building on a 99 year lease at a peppercorn rent, the annual supply and storage of staging for the Horticultural Society, lighting towers for the
Douglasdale Players' shows, the current offer of land at the old coal yard for community development, funding and accommodation for the COTE project, financial support for the St Bride's car park re-surfacing, and many others.
The Estate is still a significant employer and a provider of housing.
I do not write as an exercise in forelock tugging to our local land owner but simply to point out that past and present experience would suggest that at least some of the money which the Estate would receive is more than likely to find its way back into the local economy.
It is to be hoped that our local authority, should the project go ahead, will find a way to divert its share of the royalties to the community of Douglas, where the effects of the mining will be most felt. Scottish Coal has certainly indicated that that would be its desire.
Yours etc.,
SINCALIR SCOTT,
Mansefield House,
Weavers' Yards,
Douglas.

 
MINING IMPACT:
Dear Ed,
I write in response to correspondence in your letters page of July 24, entitled "Facts Right".
Whilst I must admit that given the stated affiliation of the writer I felt initially I had misread or indeed misunderstood the thrust of the letter. Sadly, on further scrutiny, neither was the case.
It would indeed appear that the secretary and founder of Friends of the Lady Home Hospital is advocating the operation of an open cast mine with an operational site boundary of 1000 metres from the hospital.
Mr Wilson is correct in his statement regarding the proximity of Pithead access to previous mining operations, as many older residents will recall, particularly the few of us left who were employed in those mines.
However, his implied comparison between deep mining and open cast mining only serves to belittle his argument.
A short journey to Glentaggart, or more strikingly Poniel, will serve as a better example of what open cast mining brings to Areas of Great Landscape Value and Ancient Woodlands — as is proposed at Mainshill Wood.
The assurance of the present security of Lady Home Hospital and achievement of Accreditation status is a testament to the outstanding work of a wonderfully caring staff.
It is to be commended by all who rely on its services, which have, and continue to be, provided unstintingly on a 24 hour, 365 day a year basis under our envied NHS system.
Unfortunately, Mr Wilson's letter fails to mention either of the two most important factors in any hospital, the well being of the patients and a suitable environment to allow a dedicated staff to fulfil the level of service their vocation expects.
The focus of Mr Wilson's letter would, however, appear to be on how to derive financial benefit from this proposed operation.
Given his many years serving as chairman of DVRAP it is inconceivable that he is not aware of how funding from such operations has been disbursed in the past.
And I'm sure he will be aware that any deviation from this established policy would require private negotiations and arrangements with the applicants, landowners and invited parties.
Given Scottish Planning Policy's general presumption against Open Cast Coal Mining it will be for the planning authority and the Scottish Executive to reach a judgement on this application.
Meanwhile, each and every resident has the right to express a view on how this proposal will impact his or her quality of
life or upon the most vulnerable in our society, who in some cases, may be unable to express their own views.
Yours etc.,
MR ADAM LAWSON,
91 Ayr Road,
Douglas.


 
'Mine protestors dig in'

Click on the headline above for full story
Lanark & Carluke Gazette
23 July 2008
By Ross Thomson

Below are letters to the Carluke and Lanark Gazette editor from 24/7/08 edition...

GRAVE CONCERN
Dear Ed
With reference to the current proposal by Scottish Coal to set up an opencast mine at Mainshill Wood, Douglas, I am writing to express grave concern at this proposed extension to an already chronic over-proliferation of opencast mining in this area.
We have a ring of enormous opencast sites around the historic village of Douglas and surely enough is enough.
For a relatively small amount of coal, it is not worth the grief and potential harm it will cause the local residents and, most importantly, The Lady Home Hospital.
We in Douglas have not benefited directly from these recent opencast activities and have suffered the noise, dust and appalling state of the A70 between our village and Lanark for years.
I and many others say NO to Scottish Coal.
Yours etc.,
CAROL GENTLE, Douglas.

FACTS RIGHT
Dear Ed
I read the article in the Gazette last week regarding a document that obstensibly is against open-cast mining at Mainshill in Douglas.
The door-to-door delivery of the leaflet has taken place and, before anyone replies to the address on the back of the leaflet, I would like to make some comments on the statements contained therein.
The Lady Home Hospital is in a far more secure sitation than it has ever been and has just recently undergone its Accreditation examination.
Also, some of the objectors of the sixteen who attended the public meeting have very short memories.
This is not the nearest mine that has ever affected it as, when I was growing up in this area, both the Wilson Mine and the Glebe Mine were in fields next to the hospital.
It is a bit ironic that without coal, it is doubtful if the Lady Home Hospital would ever have been built, and without the miners in the 1920s tnrought to the late 1960s who had so much kept off their wages every week towards the upkeep of the hospital, it may well have been unsustainable.
This is not a new objection and I believe everyone is entitled to their opinions, but since the outset there has been a determined drive to stop development in this valley with all sorts of objections being stated.
This has been going on for 20 years and in that time Scottish Coal has ploughed millions of pounds into South Lanarkshire Rural Communities Trust.
Because of the in-fighting that has gone on in those 20 years, we have let down this and future generations in the Douglas Valley villages of Douglas, Glespin and Rigside by not going after some of this money for the betterment of our communities.
These are perhaps questions that should be addressed before answering this leaflet. I think that answers some of the so-called 'facts' printed on the sheet.
I would also like to know from what hat they picked out the sum of £50k for the
whole of South Lanarkshire?
Yours etc.,
ROBERT WILSON
Founder and Secretary to Friends of Lady Home Hospital.

 
Morag will fight mine plan

ANGRY Douglas residents have formed an action group in a bid to stop another opencast mine being opened in the village.
The Mainshill Opencast Rejection Action Group (Morag) are seeking the views of villagers, who are against the proposed mine.
An application has been made to the council and the angry residents have decided enough is enough.
Scottish Coal are looking to extract coal and fireclay at Mainshill, which is just one kilometre away from the Lady Home Hospital.
Ironically the hospital is named after the mother of the current Earl of Home, who has sold the land to Scottish Coal.
The application was lodged this week for the extraction of 1.7 million tonnes of coal and 160,000 tonnes of fireclay over a five year period. Scottish Coal states that the mine will create 93 direct jobs.
But with four active opencast mines already around the village and another three planned, Morag believe the villagers opposition must be heard.
Kenny Sludden, Morag chairman said: "We want to get the views of the people of Douglas and campaign against this.
"We will be speaking to people door to door as well as speaking to Douglas Community Council and Lord Home, who owns the ground.
"I am quite sure that local people will support our campaign.
Two years ago we managed to stop Scottish Coal from starting work at a site at Long Plantation and we are determined to do the same again.
"As a village we rely on people passing through and tourists heading off the motorway and if they first thing they see is this development they will turn their cars round and leave.
"It will be an eyesore!"
Morag's campaign has been endorsed by local MP David Mundell.
Mr Mundell said: "If this goes ahead Douglas will be surrounded by opencast mines and I believe that will be too much for most local people to accept.
"One mine should be finished before another is started."

Carluke & Lanark Gazette
17 July 2008


Coal councillor in Celtic junket
By Billy Paterson
Sunday Mail
13 July 2008

A Councillor who voted through a mining firm's controversial plans has admitted they gave him a s3000 VIP trip to a Champions League tie in Barcelona.
Jimmy Kelly was on the East Ayrshire Council planning committee which gave the green light to expand Scottish Coal's open cast mining in Cumnock - despite objections by green campaigners.
His register of interests states: "Flights, hotels and tickets for football match: Barcelona v Celtic from Scottish Coal (2-5 March, 2008)".
Celtic fan Kelly defended the junket. He said: "There has been no bigger supporter in Cumnock and Doon Valley of the opencast.
That is for one reason and one reason only - the jobs. There are 600 opencast jobs in East Ayrshire and if those went it would be devastating."
Independent councillor Jim Sutherland said: "I would not accept any gifts from developers."
Scottish Coal said: "This is a matter for councillor Kelly and the chief executive of East Ayrshire Council."
They would not say why Kelly had been singled out for the jaunt.
 
Douglas and Glespin News item from Carluke and Lanark Gazette

The application for the extraction of coal and fireclay from Mainshill near Douglas by Scottish Coal is expected to be submitted to the SLC planning authority this week.
The site borders the A70 and the B7076 and will be clearly visible to all who access or egress the village from the Eastern side, and will add to the already industrialised landscape that surrounds our village from other mineral operations. Mainshill lies within the Douglas Water Area of Great Landscape Value (AGLV) and contains ancient and long established woodland. This development is only 150mtrs from the Home Farm settlement and 1 km from the Lady Home Hospital. Twenty years after it started Dalquhandy Open Cast Coal Site has not been restored, Broken Cross OCCS has been mothballed, Glentaggart OCCS is operational, work has already started at Poneil OCCS, and now Scottish Coal want to dig up another massive area on the main approach to the village.
A group of concerned residents are organising vigorous opposition to this further opencast development as they are strongly of the opinion that it will be seriously detrimental to the environmental and economic well being of the village and should be opposed by all concerned. The group are appealing for support in their objection and are willing to assist anyone who also wishes to object and requires advice and assistance in doing so. If you care about the well being of this community, and wish to offer support against this development going ahead, or formally object to this damaging proposal, please contact Jim Smith 01555851369, Carol Gentle 01555851909, or Kenny Sludden 01555851708.

2nd July 2008

Click HERE for DCC news item about Mainshill Wood from 13th February 2008

Click
HERE for DCC news item about the South Lanarkshire Rural Communities Trust (SLRCT)now with updated information pertaining to both the SLRCT and the story.



Below is a letter printed in the 28th February edition of the Carluke and Lanark Gazette from a Douglas resident...
Village has been ravaged

Dear Editor — Although well anticipated, the opencast coal mining application for Mainshill Wood, Douglas, still comes as a bitter blow to a community that has already borne the brunt of the ravages of these developments for a number of years.
Positioned as it is, on the main approach to Douglas off the M74, and immediately adjacent to the A70, it could not be a more visible example of the degenerative and ugly spectre of opencast mining.
Both sides of the village on the A70 will now offer potential visitors and locals a black industrialised landscape that not only destroys the natural beauty of the valley but increases, even further, the current perception of our village as sub-standard and run-down.
The common factors in the Glentaggart and Mainshill developments are the developer, Scottish Coal and the landowner Douglas and Angus Estate. Like other residents of Douglas I have witnessed the Estate's owner, the Earl of Home, gathering up litter at the side of the A70, bordering on the proposed OCCS site.
Additionally, along with a number of local residents, I attended a discussion forum at Castlemains chaired by the Earl, where he and his wife stressed the importance of community development and in particular the necessity of attracting visitors and new blood to the village. This is surely hypocrisy — on one hand offering hope and anticipation in redeveloping the village, and then driving forward a proposal that can only lead to the pollution through dust, noise, increased traffic, and landscape damage. Retrieving a few empty cans and crisp packets will do little to offset this scale of environmental destruction.
One of the village's shining lights, ironically named the Lady Home Hospital, is only one kilometre from this proposed development and will bear the brunt of the noise and dirt emanating from the site.
It is a shameful episode in the long history of Douglas and Angus Estate's relationship with the village of Douglas, tainted with cant and avarice in pursuit of financial gain.
Opencast coal developments over the past 20 years in this community have proven quite clearly that the propaganda spun out by Scottish Coal, of community benefits and lots of jobs, is an absolute myth.
This development must, and can be stopped; but only if this community cares enough through writing letters of objection to South Lanarkshire Council and the Earl of Home, lobbying politicians of all shades, and encouraging others to do the same.
Apathy as always is our worst enemy; don't leave it to others to fight against the destruction of this beautiful valley that we live in...start objecting now.

Yours etc.,
Kenny Sludden,
Castleview
Douglas.
 
Click on the headline above for full story
Carluke & Lanark Gazette
20 February 2008

Click on the headline above for full story
Hamilton Advertiser
27 February 2008

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