5. Former Surface Coal Mines
5.1 This section provides an overview of how former surface coal mines have been treated in the Survey results for the period 2014 to 2019.
5.2 A number of opencast coal mining sites were affected by the liquidation of Scottish Coal and ATH Resources in 2013 across sites in East Ayrshire, Fife and South Lanarkshire. Sites in East Ayrshire were affected by a shortfall in restoration bonds that meant the level of financial guarantees fell short of the amount of money required to return all the land to its original condition.
5.3 Analysis carried out by East Ayrshire Council throughout the course of 2015 identified a total of 2,217 hectares of former surface coal mines in East Ayrshire that were considered to be derelict, and these sites were included in the 2015 SVDLS publication for both the years 2014 and 2015 (2014 figures being revised from those previously published).
5.4 For each subsequent Survey East Ayrshire Council has reviewed the sites reducing site sizes to reflect any areas of naturalisation. In 2018 a number of sites were removed from the survey due to their restoration scheme being completed. The total area of former surface coal mines now is listed at 1,507 hectares, a reduction of 710 hectares (32%) since the initial listing. It is anticipated that restoration schemes will be complete for a number of further sites in 2020.
5.5 The East Ayrshire Council analysis is based on the following principles for recording former surface coal mines, which were agreed following discussions between Scottish Government representatives and East Ayrshire, Fife, North Lanarkshire and South Lanarkshire Councils.
5.6 Large areas have been broken down into smaller areas to distinguish between parcels of land that still need to be restored to their original condition, parcels that are unworked and parcels derelict or naturalised.
5.7 Areas of abandoned sites where the only element of activity is the maintenance of the site for health and safety reasons have been considered derelict.
5.8 Areas which have been subject to partial restoration which are below the standard expected within the original planning permissions, but which are not considered to be of such poor quality as they would present a significant health and safety danger or environmental risk, are not considered derelict. Only areas of land identified as being unsafe or of very poor environmental quality and requiring further remediation have been recorded as derelict.
5.9 Any former compounds, coal wash areas or haul routes that are still being used for another operational site have not been considered derelict.
5.10 Table 1 shows East Ayrshire surface coal mines for each survey since 2015. In 2016 and 2017 the Dunstonhill site was broken into separate areas to distinguish between remaining areas of dereliction and other areas that, while in some instances were below the expected standard of restoration, were no longer of very poor environmental quality or comprise a significant health and safety or environmental risk. In 2018 the Galawhistle, Skares Earthworks and Dunstonhill sites were removed as their restoration scheme had been completed.
|Site Name||Site size (hectares)|
|Benbain Remainder North||138||138||138||138||138|
|Skares Area D||57||57||57||57||57|
|Skares Muir Farm||4||4||4||4||4|
|Dunstonhill (Lethan Hill)3||3||-||-||-|
|Dunstonhill (Forest Road)3||15||-||-|
1 The initial Dunstonhill (Patna) site was split into separate sites in 2016 and further split in 2017.
2 Site size was amended in 2017.
3 Sites were removed from the survey on completion of restoration.