Opencast plans transported a stage further

A mining project at Wellsgreen looks set to get started soon.
A mining project at Wellsgreen looks set to get started soon.

A PROPOSAL to mine nearly 800,000 tonnes of coal near Wellsgreen has been shunted a step forward.

Planning committee members from Fife Council gave conditional backing last week for the plan, which is subject to a legal agreement and notification to Scottish Ministers.

Hall Construction Services Ltd. is currently mining further along the Standing Stane Road, near the Coaltown of Wemyss junction, and hopes to continue its work in the Leven direction, at a site near the golf driving range at Wellsgreen.

The four-year venture would see coal transported across the Standing Stane on a conveyor belt above the road, where it would be blended for better quality with different coal imported to the site.

After it reaches the other side, it will be carried by lorry to Tulybrek Farm, where a section of the former Leven rail track has been re-opened, before continuing to Kirkcaldy and then a power station in Yorkshire.

The former Wellsgreen bing is in the mining site and the plan involves its removal to improve ground stability, when the site is eventually restored to an appropriate character after the mining work.

It’s reckoned the job would create employment for up to 30 people.

The Levenmouth area committee previously stated it wished to support the application, provided noise reduction measures were followed correctly by the applicant, while the implementation of the elevated conveyor was carried out with minimum disruption to road uses and properly advertised in advance.

Local councillors also wanted a community trust fund to form part of the legal agreement, for projects in the surrounding community affected by any inconvenience caused by the surface mine.

Last week’s meeting heard the community fund would be linked to the value of minerals extracted, which may be around 25 pence per tonne.

With a highly detailed list of conditions attached to the plan, the committee agreed an independent minerals compliance officer would be recruited, to offer expert advice. It was agreed a liaison committee be set up as part of the legal agreement, to notify people if any additional detonation or explosive work was needed in cases of emergency outwith designated hours.