‘Deal to save Kellingley Colliery still on’

Keith Poulson and Keith Hartshorne, from the NUM, at the pit.
Keith Poulson and Keith Hartshorne, from the NUM, at the pit.

The government has insisted it is still considering two state aid bids to keep Kellingley Colliery open, despite reports it had rejected them.

Pit operators UK Coal plans to close the colliery by the end of this year with the loss of 700 jobs.

But the company has also submitted two bids to the government to extend the life of the pit until 2018 - which the Department for Business says are still being looked at.

Keith Harsthorne, National Union of Mineworkers delegate at Kellingley, said: “It has been a manic week and it prompted a lot of worries at the pit.

“Thankfully it was all unnecessary and we’ve had assurance from the government that they are still looking at our two state aid bids.”

One of the state aid applications would see the Weeland Road site stay open until 2018 and the other would provide funding for redundancy payments and the retraining of workers.

Mr Hartshorne added: “Now the government has told us the funding hasn’t been turned down, we just hope we are not being strung along.

“Ministers have also told us we will know one way or another by the end of March.”

A Department for Business spokesman said: “We have already given UK Coal a £400m loan to deliver its ‘managed closure’ plan.

“We have now received a plan from the company to extend the life of the mines and will look carefully at their proposal bearing in mind that we must make sure than taxpayers receive value for money and that the sum is affordable.”