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Tuesday, 27 June, 2000, 05:31 GMT 06:31 UK
Mining firm threatens to 'walk away'
Open cast mining
There are 34 open cast coal mines in Scotland
One of Scotland's leading open cast mining firms has threatened to pull out of the industry altogether if planning authorities continue to oppose developments.

I and H Brown will hear on Tuesday whether its 50m plan to open a coal mine in East Lothian has been successful.

There are 34 open cast coal mines in Scotland but many of them have a life expectancy of no more than five years.

Before they are exhausted, the industry needs to have agreement for new sites if it is to continue running.

Open cast operations currently employ some 4,000 people and the industry contributes around 400m a year to the Scottish economy.

Second application

I and H Brown has been trying to win approval for a development at Harry's Burn near Tranent.

But it is understood the application will be turned down for a second time.

The company says that it has had enough of delays and "perverse decisions" and may be ready to walk away from open cast altogether.

The planning authorities deny that they are opposed to this form of mining in principle.

They say they are duty bound by national policy guidelines and local plans to protect local communities and the environment.

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