Thoresby: pit closure decision is ‘a personal tragedy

Notts County Council leader Coun Alan Rhodes has expressed his ‘disappointment and dismay’ at the announcement that not more is to be done to prevent the closure of Thoresby Colliery

Hundreds of years of coal mining tradition in the county is set to end next year as the pit’s operator, UK Coal, embarks on an 18 month ‘managed closure’ of the last deep mine Notts.

The Government is providing a £10 million loan to UK Coal to carry out the closure by October 2015, despite estimates that there are at least five years’ worth of coal reserves still underground.

The closure will result in approximately 600 job losses at the colliery as well as hitting local suppliers, other local businesses and the wider Notts community.

The unemployment rate in the Mansfield Travel to Work Area, which includes Thoresby Colliery is 3.3% - higher than the national average of 3%. Other former coalfield communities such as Clipstone and Boughton have rates closer to 4.2 per cent.

Coun Rhodes said: “I am disappointed and dismayed that so little is being done to protect our communities, the local economy and the country’s coal supplies – especially following the Prime Minister’s recent assurances that he would do everything in his power to keep Thoresby open.”

“This is a personal tragedy for each and every miner and employee at Thoresby, their families and nearby communities.”

“It makes no sense to cut off our own coal supplies, make our miners redundant and replace them with imported coal - especially with fluctuating prices and the increased chances of the UK being held to ransom without its own supplies to fall back on.”

Following news of the phased closure, the council hopes to work with UK Coal, the Government and the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership to draw up a support package for those affected.

Coun Rhodes added: “We have had a very encouraging response from UK Coal, Government offices and the various agencies so far to our offer of facilitating urgent discussions.”

“We expect the Government and partners to work together with us to develop a fully resourced support package to help the people being made redundant and to the Notts communities most affected.”

“It is vital that issues like the retraining of employees, the creation of equivalent quality jobs and the successful redevelopment of the site are provided as part of the managed closure plan.”

Also in response to the Thoresby closure, Notts TUC has called for the re-nationalisation of UK Coal and the re-opening of mines to create well paying skilled jobs.

Liam Conway, president of the Nottingham and Mansfield Trades Council, said: “On the 30th anniversary of the great miners’ strike we are witnessing the possible closure of one of the last mines in the county.”

“The Government ought to re-nationalise the industry and invest in Britain’s future energy security.”

“Instead of importing over 40 million tons of coal a year, it is in the national, not private, interests, to invest in the reliable, continuous supply of coal mined in Britain, with the creation of properly paid jobs and the skilled apprenticeships that stem from this.”

“It is now of the utmost importance to put the long term interests of the people of the United Kingdom, before the temporary, short-term interests of private shareholders.”

“This means Thoresby being kept open, as part of a planned diverse energy policy that includes clean coal technology and renewables.”