Scottish Coal Company

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Scottish Coal Company Ltd is "the largest coal producer in Scotland and the largest opencast coal mining company in the UK"[1]. The company comes under the umbrella of the Scottish Resources Group[2].

Political contributions

In 2002 current Labour leader in Scotland Iain Gray answered a question from the SNP's Bruce Crawford about Scottish Enterprise network funding for Scottish Coal Company. His answer was as follows:

"In the three years to 31 March 2002, the Scottish Enterprise network contributed a total of £81,591 in direct support to Scottish Coal Company Ltd and its subsidiaries. These contributions went towards a number of projects including studies on opencast mine reinstatement and the Modern Apprenticeships Scheme at Longannet and were in addition to the bank guarantee of £4.514 million provided by Scottish Enterprise to Scottish Coal (Deep Mine) Ltd and paid to the Royal Bank of Scotland"[3].

Opencast coal mining

Scottish Coal Company is the UK's largest opencast coal mine operator. The company was given permission to extract 1.7m tonnes of coal at Mainshill in South Lanarkshire between 2009-2012. Around 700 residents of nearby Douglas and Glespin were against the proposed mine. Their protests were unsuccesful and planning permission was granted by South Lanarkshire Council[4]. According to the Guardian:

"Scottish Coal already operates three other mines in the immediate area, and has recently won permission to extend many of them.
At Glentaggart, the company is allowed to mine 200,000 tonnes a year: the site has one of the Europe's longest conveyor belts. At 6.5km long, Scottish Coal says it reduced lorry traffic by 30,000 journeys a year.
At a site known as Poniel/Long Plantation, it can mine 570,000 tonnes, and 4m tonnes from Broken Cross open-cast mine, several miles to the north-east"[5].

Public health expert Dr Dick van Steenis has warned that the planned Mainshill site, which will be the fourth opencast mine in the area will become a public health disaster. In a visit to Douglas he said:

I’m not anti-coal, but if it’s really in the national interest to mine for it there then they should bulldoze down Douglas and rebuild it in a safer place.
It would actually make economic sense – they could then mine the coal under the town as well, build a power station and feed it back into the grid, or sell it. It would create jobs, cut the NHS bill and increase exports.

He went on to say:

The statistics are clear – Douglas residents are dying substantially more from certain illnesses than people in non-opencast areas. You can see the dust coming off these mines, off the coal lorries and settling on the windows of our local hospital.

Scottish Coal deny the allegations made by Steenis, who kick-started a successful legal action in Corby. The legal action was over a decommissioned steel works which was blamed for local birth defects[6]. The land that the Mainshill site is planned for is owned by Lord David Douglas-Home[7].


Scottish Woodlands | Scottish Resources Group | Scottish Executive


  1. The Company, Scottish Coal, Scottish Resources Group, Accessed 17-October-2009
  2. The Company, Scottish Coal, Scottish Resources Group, Accessed 17-October-2009
  3. Iain Gray, Mining: Scottish Parliament Written answers, They Work For You, 14-May-2002, Accessed 19-October-2009
  4. Severin Carrell, Scottish climate activists to target coal industry, The Guardian, 3-August-2009, Accessed 19-October-2009
  5. Severin Carrell, Scottish climate activists to target coal industry, The Guardian, 3-August-2009, Accessed 19-October-2009
  6. Chris Watt, Opencast mines will lead to public health disaster, warns poison expert, The Herald, 26-September-2009, Accessed 19-October-2009
  7. Edd McCracken, A climate of fear, The Herald, 8-August-2009, Accessed 19-October-2009