Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Do Some Digging before Agreeing to Opencasting; ENVIRONMENT

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Do Some Digging before Agreeing to Opencasting; ENVIRONMENT

Article excerpt

Byline: JO BLAKEMORE jo.blakemore@ncjmedia.co.uk

FARMERS and landowners should consider a range of factors if fhey are considering entering into opencasting agreements - particulary the potential profits and pitfalls of allowing coal producers access to your land.

That is the advice from David Quayle, a director in the Durham office of H&H Land and Property.

He said: "Northern England and the Scottish Borders' association with coal mining goes back to time immemorial; although the deep pits have nearly all gone, the region still retains ample coal reserves that can be accessed via opencast mining."

Coal as a power source may be seen as a sunset industry as the Government focuses on renewable technology but it still plays a significant role in generating the UK's power.

In 2012, around 40% of Britain's electricity came from coal-fired powers stations and although a third of these are earmarked for closure before the end of the decade, demand for fuel will remain.

Nearly 17 million tonnes of coal was produced domestically in 2012 and almost 45 million tonnes was imported but energy companies remain interested in UK-sourced fuel.

Mr Quayle added: "As our natural resources from the North Sea dwindle, we are dependent upon obtaining some of our energy from distant and, in some cases, unstable countries. The present difficulties in Ukraine are a case in point.

"In Northern England we are fortunate in that we have very signifi-cant reserves of coal accessible by both underground and opencast methods."

In July 2011, according to the then energy minister Chris Huhne, known UK coal reserves amounted to 3,196 million tonnes, of which 852 million tonnes were capable of being mined by opencast methods.

Mr Quayle explained: "Landowners with coal reserves on their property are obviously in a strong position to make money by granting access to opencasting companies but there are a number of issues you need to take into account before entering into any agreements.

"Firstly, at the moment coal-fired power stations produce significant amounts of CO. which is thought to be the main driver of climate change. …

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