Planners reject proposal for open cast mine close to Fife village

Members of Fife Council's Central Area Planning Committee unnanomously rejected the application on Monday.
Members of Fife Council's Central Area Planning Committee unnanomously rejected the application on Monday.

A long-standing plan to establish an open cast coal mining pit on the outskirts of a picturesque Fife village, has been knocked back by planners.

The planning application, which was to extract around 800,000 tonnes of coal from the Wellsgreen site on the outskirts of East Wemyss, using surface mining methods over a proposed four-year period, was unanimously refused by councillors when it came before Fife Council’s Central Area Planning Committee on Monday.

In a report prepared by Martin McGroarty, lead professional (minerals) for the Council’s Priory Application Team, it highlighted that the applicant - Hall Construction Services Ltd - had failed to complete the signing of a Section 75 legal agreement and therefore advised committee members to refuse the application.

“This agreement was required to ensure proper restoration of the site following completion of opencast coaling, including making provision for the appointment of an independent minerals compliance officer, and for a financial bond to secure restoration of the site in the event of the operator being unable to do so,” stated the report.

The collapse of the coal market in the UK and the large reduction in the demand for coal from coal fueled power stations had also had an effect on the applicant’s desire to push ahead with plan to extract at the Wellsgreen site.

“The collapse of the coal market and the impact of cheap imports has been an influential factor,” Mr McGroarty told the committee.

“The closure of coal powered powerstations such as Longannet were also a blow to the market.

“Of the nine coal powered stations currently opperating in the UK, only four are not earmarked for closure.”

The application had originally expected to follow a long history of coal extraction in the area, at previous sites along the Standing Stain Road, such as Earlseat, Randolph and Mackies Mill which had all operated in previous decades.

But a motion by Councillor John Beare to refuse the application as advised by the report was unanimously agreed by the committee.