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Stopping Scottish Coal's Smash 'n' grab

The Scottish Resources Group (SRG), an umbrella company that includes Scottish Coal, has submitted an application for a “mixed use development” across a 230 hectare area which would include leisure and industrial expansion. The aim is to achieve “planning in principle” to make the land a more attractive investment to developers. The Happenden Wood Action Camp (THWAC) thinks the application helps to support opencast, for example the Coal Authority has stated that if the industrial development goes ahead, coal must be extracted first. The proposed development at Happendon is another example of Scottish Coal’s greed which attempts to destroy communities.

The Happendon Wood Action Camp was started on 12 September to resist the destruction of Douglas Valley by Scottish Coal and SRG Estates. The aim is to stop the development and provide a base for direct action against opencast and its infrastructure in a beautiful area of South Lanarkshire which is now one of Britain’s most intensive areas for this type of coal mining.

More mines proposed

Since September, Scottish Coal has released what they’re calling their “forward strategy” and the submission to pre-application process of three proposals including an extension at Broken Cross opencast mine and new mines at Townhead, Douglas, and Auldton Heights, Lesmahagow. That’s 5.4 million tonnes’ worth of new opencast.

Local residents are furious. With the current development at Happendon and an existing application to extend Glentaggart, the threat to communities and environment of the Douglas Valley is at an all-time peak. This smash and grab by Scottish Coal, supported by South Lanarkshire Council, has been compared to the Highland Clearances by local residents. There have been well- attended public meetings and co-operation between community members from across the valley who are mobilising along with THWAC to resist the plans. Communities Against Airfield Open Cast have inspired the campaign with their success on 12 October when Midlothian Council decided to reject Scottish Coal’s application to mine 2 million tons of coal at Cousland.

There will be a five day Autumn gathering (6-10 November) with workshops on skills and tactics, where you can take action and support local communities, and get the chance to be involved in day-to-day life on camp.

Here in the Douglas Valley, direct actions have included damage to a mining machine at Broken Cross and delaying traffic into the Mainshill mine with a D-lock on the gate.

Many activists are still facing large fines. Cheques are welcome (thanks!) payable to: “Friends of Mainshill”, c/o Birkhill House, Coalburn ML11 0NJ (a/c 06002626; sort code 80 11 94).
More info: www.coalactionscotland.org.uk