Crisis in the mines: British Coal denies more on hit-list

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BRITISH COAL denied yesterday that there were any hidden plans to end coal-mining in Scotland and Wales next year, and to shut down one of the new pits in the Selby coalfield in Yorkshire.

But no long-term guarantee was given for the three pits which the Coalfield Communities Campaign alleges were removed from the current round of closures because of the likely political impact.

The campaign, an independent body representing local authorities in coalfield areas, said on Wednesday that it had been given a faxed document prior to the announcement by British Coal that 31 pits were to be closed.

The document showed a list of collieries due for closure, including three pits not mentioned when the announcement was made. These were Tower in south Wales, Long Gannet in Scotland and Whitemoor in the Selby complex.

The campaign said it had no reason to doubt the authenticity of the information given by 'British Coal sources'. It said: 'They are three very touchy ones and this we feel was a question of damage limitation.'

Professor Stephen Fothergill, one of the authors of a report on how the 'dash for gas' affects UK electricity generation, said yesterday: 'I would have thought Long Gannet, which does have a damn good record recently, is vulnerable because Scotland has a gas station which has just come on stream.'

He said Whitemoor was affected by difficult geology. Tower produced specialist coal which had been affected by cheap imports.