The Leader of Nottinghamshire County Council has expressed “disappointment and dismay” at the announcement that not more is to be done to prevent the closure of Nottinghamshire’s last remaining deep coal mine.
Hundreds of years of coal mining tradition in the county is set to end next year as the pit’s operator, UK Coal, embarks on an 18 month ‘managed closure’ of Thoresby Colliery in Edwinstowe, Nottinghamshire.
Similar closure plans have been announced for Kellingley Colliery in North Yorkshire.
The Government is providing a £10m loan to UK Coal to carry out the closure by October 2015, despite estimates that there are at least five years’ worth of coal reserves still underground.
The closure will result in approximately 600 job losses at the colliery as well as hitting local suppliers, other local businesses and the wider Nottinghamshire community.
The unemployment rate in the Mansfield Travel to Work Area, which includes Thoresby Colliery is 3.3% - higher than the national average of 3%. Other former coalfield communities such as Clipstone and Boughton have rates closer to 4.2%.
Councillor Alan Rhodes, Leader of Nottinghamshire County Council, said: “I am disappointed and dismayed that so little is being done to protect our communities, the local economy and the country’s coal supplies - especially following the Prime Minister’s recent assurances that he would do everything in his power to keep Thoresby and Kellingley open.
“This is a personal tragedy for each and every miner and employee at Thoresby, their families and nearby communities. It makes no sense to cut off our own coal supplies, make our miners redundant and replace them with imported coal - especially with fluctuating prices and the increased chances of the UK being held to ransom without its own supplies to fall back on.”
Following news of the phased closure, the County Council hopes to work with UK Coal, the Government and the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership to draw up a support package for those affected.
Councillor Rhodes added: “We have had a very encouraging response from UK Coal, Government offices and the various agencies so far to our offer of facilitating urgent discussions.
“We expect the Government and partners to work together with us to develop a fully resourced support package to help the people being made redundant and to the Nottinghamshire communities most affected. It is vital that issues like the retraining of employees, the creation of equivalent quality jobs and the successful redevelopment of the site are provided as part of the managed closure plan.”