30 June 1995

Open-cast mine plans a fillip

SEVERAL dozen farmers and landowners in central Scotland could benefit from plans to rehabilitate 9000ha (22,000 acres) currently used for open-cast mining.

Scottish Coal, which acquired British Coals assets north of the border, has awarded a contract said to be worth "tens of thousands of pounds" to the Scottish Agricultural Colleges environmental services group to oversee the work. Nine open-cast sites, from Fife to Ayrshire, are involved.

The deal was signed at the show by Dr Ian Preston, chairman of Scottish Coal, and Sandy Inverarity, chairman of SAC. Both companies have said they hope this 18-month contract will be the start of a long relationship.

"We are hoping to reach agreement with all the landowners and farmers concerned," said Niall Crabb, managing director of Scottish Coals open-cast division. "As a new private sector company we want to have good, long-term working relationships with the agricultural community.

"This is all about managing the land for 5-10 years until it has been progressively restored to full agricultural use again." Scottish Coal had been contacted by a "fair number" of farmers who believed they had coal on their land. Scottish Coal wanted to deal with these farmers first, he said.