5 July 2002

Fury after coal firm receives F&M cash

NORTHUMBERLAND farmers living near a controversial foot-and-mouth burial site were furious after learning that UK Coal has been awarded a big government pay-out for disruption to its local opencast mine.

The National Audit Office report on the F&M outbreak reveals that UK Coal received £165,000 for coal that could not be mined at the Severn Sisters site at Widdrington because 138,000 animal carcases were buried there during last years epidemic.

But the amount of compensation awarded has left local farmers and other residents fuming.

Peter Kull, a campaigner from nearby Ellington, described the decision as "disgraceful". Calling for an inquiry, he challenged UK Coal to hand over the money to the people of the Widdrington area, claiming they deserved it more.

"After what we went through last year, having burials and burning forced on us, right on our doorsteps, this is an unbelievable development," said Mr Kull.

"That amount of money would go some way to repairing the damage that has been done here."

Berwick MP Alan Beith added: "If the government can find money for UK Coal, they can find money for the people in the area who bore the brunt of the mismanaged disposal operation." &#42