Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie MSP today said new figures on derelict land reveal the huge damage that the opencast coal mining industry has done in communities across Scotland.
Statistics published today showed an upward revision to the total amount of derelict land reported for 2014 in Scotland, from 8,509 to 10,753 hectares. This increase was largely attributed to the addition of 2,217 hectares of surface coal mining land that became derelict in East Ayrshire following the liquidation of Scottish Coal in 2013.
The figures also showed that across Scotland, 30% of people live with 500 metres of a derelict site. This rises to almost 60% in deprived communities.
Commenting, Mr Rennie said:
"These figures lay bare the huge damage that the opencast coal industry has done in communities across Scotland. Nearly 60% of the population in some areas have derelict land on their doorstep. This is not only an eyesore but comes with health risks attached.
"The amount of derelict land in Scotland has increased by one quarter as a result of the failure of the opencast industry. This is staggering and opencast mining communities across Scotland continue to feel the effects of the Scottish Government's cavalier approach to the industry. Instead of recklessly promoting the exploitation of new opencast mines the Scottish Government should have focused on a plan to restore the failed sites that are blighting our countryside.
"It is time that the SNP government accepted their responsibilities to the communities which have been blighted by the failure of the open cast coal industry."