Patrick Harvie is calling for the Scottish Government to propose new laws in light of the Court of Session’s decision to allow liquidators for Scottish Coal to abandon the restoration of former opencast mines.
The MSP for Glasgow, has submitted a motion to the Scottish Parliament describing the case for a public inquiry into the issue as overwhelming.
The court ruling means companies can ignore environmental and planning obligations that were designed to limit pollution and restore the land once a site was mined.
Mr Harvie said:
“People living near coal mines across Scotland have suffered noise and pollution for years, and the companies responsible now have permission to ignore their duties to these communities and the environment.
“Earlier this year the energy minister told Parliament that coal operators should be responsible for restoration. He must now admit that a public inquiry is needed into this debacle. In light of the court’s ruling he must come forward with proposals to prevent further opportunities for corporate irresponsibility.”
Mr Harvie’s motion, which may be amended by Parliament’s chamber desk, reads as follows:
That the Parliament notes the words of Fergus Ewing MSP, Minister for Energy, Enterprise and Tourism, on 23rd May 2013 when he told the Chamber “We share the concerns that local communities have expressed about the responsible restoration of opencast coal sites” and “it is right that coal operators will still be responsible for the restoration of their respective opencast sites” and “No one is suggesting that the responsibility should be shifted from the coal operators. The coal operators have responsibility—responsible coal operators in Scotland acknowledge that fact—and the responsibility will continue”; is therefore deeply concerned and angered at the decision by the Court of Session on Thursday 11th July 2013 to allow Scottish Coal’s liquidators to abandon its restoration responsibilities which would leave significant costs to fall to the public purse; condemns the industry for this attempt to walk away from its responsibility to the local environments it has destroyed and to the communities which have lived with its operations; considers that the case is now overwhelming for a full public inquiry into the past and future operation of the opencast coal industry in Scotland, and for a moratorium on new and expanded opencast developments until such an inquiry has reported and the issues regarding restoration have been addressed; and calls on the Scottish Government urgently to consult on legislation to prevent companies from walking away from such responsibilities in future.