THE TUC is pressing Ministers to apply for EU state aid to secure a future for UK coal mining, including the closure-threatened Kellingley pit in North Yorkshire.
The union body said the contents of a new report showed public funding now would end up saving taxpayers’ money otherwise spent on unemployment benefit payments or lost through falls in income tax and national insurance contributions.
The TUC said allowing the managed closure of two of Britain’s last three coal mines – Thorseby in Nottinghamshire as well as Kellingley – by the end of 2015 would result in the loss of 1,300 skilled jobs, as well as hundreds more in supply chain jobs. Hatfield Colliery in South Yorkshire would be the last remaining deep pit mine in Britain.
A report by Orion Innovations, commissioned by the TUC and the NUM, said an early closure of Thoresby and Kellingley mines would result in 2,600 years of lost employment given the expected time taken for miners to find new employment, with significant costs in social security payments.
There would also be a £163m loss in employee income and a £75m loss to the exchequer in income tax and national insurance contributions along with a £1bn loss in company revenues.
A successful Government application for EU state aid could enable both mines to stay open until at least 2018. The cost of state aid – estimated at between £63m and £74m – could easily be covered by the £86m of extra profits generated between 2015 and 2018 from over £500m in coal revenues, according to the report.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Recent events in the Ukraine should have made clear the importance of having a secure domestic energy supply.
“Instead the Government is allowing two of Britain’s three remaining coal mines to close, causing the unnecessary loss of 1,300 skilled jobs and leaving us even more exposed to fluctuations in the price of imported coal.”
The TUC has now written to Energy Minister Michael Fallon and Business Secretary Vince Cable to press the case for state aid.
A Government spokesperson said: “The Government has received a copy of the report which it is reviewing.”