MP MARK SPENCER COLUMN: Tough times for region’s coal industry

I imagine you are all aware of the terrible news that the Daw Mill colliery is to close following a devastating fire there recently; a fire which is likely to burn on for another 6 months. While it is a testament to the UK Coal’s improved safety record that mercifully no one died, my next concern was the impact that this closure could have on Sherwood.

As soon as I heard the news I got in touch with the energy minister John Hayes and the Chancellor to brief them on the potential implications for Sherwood and to discuss what steps could be taken to protect both industry and jobs.

I am aware that many of you have close links to both collieries owned by UK Coal and that there are miners travelling from Hucknall to Daw Mill who will have just found themselves out of a job.I have spoken with UK Coal and been assured that they will do what they can to relocate some of those men laid off at Daw Mill to Thoresby and Kellingley. Here in London, following conversations with ministers, I have been told that the Government is working with UK Coal in the light of this disaster to help secure the viability of UK Coal and its remaining production sites.

One of the options I have been pressing the Government to consider is the possibility of assisting UK Coal in exploring the reopening of Harworth Colliery in Bassetlaw. Coal is, as we are all aware, a finite resource and I have always been keen to ensure that when Thoresby reaches the end of its coal supply, there is a smooth transition to the Harworth site for the remaining workforce.

This is a critical time for coal production in Nottinghamshire. I had the privilege of visiting Thoresby last year going down to the coal face with some of the miners and the strength of camaraderie down there is extraordinary. Clearly the situation is fluid but at the time of going to print, UK Coal and the Government are working together to try and save the industry and I will do what I can to assist both sides in reaching a positive conclusion and protect jobs here in Sherwood.