EU state aid could save Thoresby Colliery

Thorsby Colliery.
Thorsby Colliery.

Applying for EU state aid could secure a longer-term future for Thoresby Colliery, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) insists.

The union body is pressing ministers to apply for the money through the European Commission to help keep the pit open, along with Kellingley in South Yorkshire, until 2018.

A report by Orion Innovations, commissioned by the TUC and the National Union of Miners (NUM), said an early closure of both mines, which as been earmarked for next year unless funding is found, would result in £163m loss in employee income, and a £75m loss to the exchequer in income tax and national insurance contributions.

They also warned that it would jeopardise the UK’s energy security, not least given Britain’s high reliance on Russian coal at a time of troubled relations in Europe.

A successful Government application for EU state aid, costing 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 the coal mines to close, causing the loss of 1,300 skilled jobs and leaving us even more exposed to fluctuations in the price of imported coal.

“It would be madness to allow the closure of British mines when countries like Germany and Spain are using far greater amounts of state aid to bolster their own domestic coal supply.”