Government urged to back state aid plan for Kellingley Colliery

BUSINESS Secretary Vince Cable will be urged to grant to state aid to stop a North Yorkshire colliery from closure at a meeting on Monday.

Yvette Cooper MP, pictured at Kellingley Colliery in January Picture: Simon Hulme

Labour’s shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper will tell Mr Cable that the Government must act now to step in and support Kellingley Colliery before a further round of redundancies strikes next month.

UK Coal announced plans to close the colliery, one of the country’s last remaining deep pits, in April last year. A planned workforce buy-out fell through, and in September the company secured a £4m Government loan to fund the closure of mine by the end of this year, with 700 job losses.

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The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), supported by Ms Cooper, have maintained throughout that the pit is profitable long-term and that state aid could keep it open.

In January UK Coal submitted a plan to the Government asking for further funding which would see Kellingley remain open until 2018 or provide further funding for the closure of the business.

Ms Cooper, whose constituency neighbours the colliery, said: “We have a situation where 200 redundancies are likely to happened at the beginning of April, and the cost of keeping the pit open is going up every day.

“My fear is that the Government is dragging its feet deliberately until it’s too late. The Government need to support the pit and the workforce.

“The clock is really ticking now - this is the last chance.”

Today Ms Cooper met with NUM representatives at Kellingley to discuss the details of the redundancies, the latest wave since the closure was first announced.

“These are skilled jobs that will be lost,” Ms Cooper said. “There is £1bn of investment going into clean coal technology just down the road at Drax. It makes no sense to close Kellingley”.

Speaking in the House of Commons yesterday, Energy Secretary Matthew Hancock said a decision on state aid would be made before the dissolution of Parliament on March 30.

The Government has previously said that any plan must represent value for money for taxpayers.