Battle to save pit rumbles on

Kellingley Colliery
Kellingley Colliery

Any state funding to secure a long-term future for troubled Kellingley Colliery must give ‘value for money’, the government has said.

Pit operators UK Coal and the government are currently working on a £20m managed closure deal, which would see the pit shut by the end of the year.

But a government spokesman said any state funding for a future beyond 2015 would need to be fully assessed.

He added: “We are engaging early with all parties - employers and trade unions - to try to find a resolution for the challenges facing UK Coal.

“We will look at any proposal that is put forward, bearing in mind that we must also make sure that taxpayers receive value for money.”

Last month, the National Union of Mineworkers shelved an employee buyout plan of Kellingley amid claims that UK Coal had made the plan unviable.

Chris Kitchen, NUM general secretary, said: “We haven’t even had UK Coal put in an application for state aid and the government is already saying it is not in favour of it.

“We pushed for a state aid application to be put in more than six months ago.

“Six months ago it would have been value for money for the taxpayer.”

Pontefract and Castleford MP Yvette Cooper said the government needed to reach a decision quickly.

She said: “The clock is ticking now. The longer we go on without new development restarting at Kellingley, the more it will cost to keep the pits open and the harder it will be.

“The energy minister agreed to our calls to look at all options including EU state aid to keep the pits open. I’m calling on him to stand by that and to make sure the department works with UK Coal and the unions .”

Andrew Mackintosh, director of communications at UK Coal, said the company remained committed to securing the ‘managed closure’ deal.