Scotland’s Energy Minister, Fergus Ewing, has welcomed changes to freight access charges announced by the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR). He suggested the changes would help to support the viability of mining operations in Scotland.
ORR proposals to increase freight costs were raised as a critical issue at a Coal Industry Taskforce (CIT) meeting in mid May 2013.
The CIT, chaired by Mr Ewing, was established following the liquidation of Scottish Coal. Its remit was to support continued mining operations, preserve coal industry jobs and ensure the responsible restoration of sites.
After the CIT challenged the ORR proposals, the originally planned charges were significantly reduced. The CIT and its supporters argued the changes would have been damaging to Scottish operators.
Mr Ewing said, “I am delighted that the ORR has taken into account the impact that this charging regime will have on the Scottish coal industry by confirming that freight access charges will be substantially below the levels proposed in January.”
“This comes after significant concern was voiced by key industry players and the Scottish Government. I would like to commend the work of the CIT for helping to make this happen.
Gordon Banham, CEO of bulk material hauling company, Hargreaves Services, said, “This is very welcome news. The coal industry in the UK is facing significant challenges at this time, especially from reduced world coal prices. The increase in charges that had been proposed would have added a significant additional burden over and above the current transport and freight rates.”
John Campbell, Commercial Director at Stirling based Fergusson Group said, “Any increase in costs to the coal supply industry is clearly unwelcome, especially in the current context of depressed international coal prices. The industry will be assessing the full package of charges proposed today and will respond in due course with a view to establishing a final outcome which helps to promote long term employment and investment from responsible operators, and ensures that the Scottish coal industry continues to play a key role in providing secure and affordable energy."
Adapted from press release by Samuel Dodson.
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