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WORK is under way to transform a former opencast mine near Crossgates

Friday, November 8th, 2019

John Collier and Sons aim to complete the restoration of the Muir Dean site by filling in a former drying lagoon with 15,000 tonnes of soil.

The local firm, which is involved in agriculture, land improvement, haulage and plant hire, now own the land after the collapse of the coal industry and the mine operator, ATH Resources, going bust.

The Doncaster-based firm ATH had fought a long battle with Fife Council to be allowed to take coal from the site, with the Scottish Government granting permission after an appeal.

Work began in 2008 and they had permission to extract two million tonnes of coal from the site over four-and-a-half years, only to plunge into administration in 2012.

A bond of more than £7 million was made available for restoration and Hargreaves Surface Mining Ltd stepped in, restoring land and mining coal on the site until early 2016, when the impending closure of Longannet Power Station led to operations ceasing.

 It was a jobs blow for workers and was described as a “historically significant time”, marking the end of major coal extraction in Fife. It also meant that work to focus solely on the restoration of the land started sooner than originally expected.

The Colliers will now complete the job and write the final chapter in a controversial story with the timescale for filling in the lagoon, which is just under an acre in size, and reinstating the land, set at 18 months.

A planning statement on their behalf said: “The former opencast site has been restored with the land returned to grazing together with a pond which comprises mine water, tracks formed for the public to walk along and a number of redundant settlement lagoons.

“The whole site has been fenced and gated to contain the sheep which graze on the site.”

It added: “The restoration of this small part of the site would complete the site with the opportunity for further grazing land being available and completing the land-profiling of this area of the site.”

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