Coal giant to build homes on old mines

Brownfield land around England's coalmines could be worth over £800m, the country's biggest coal producer has said, calling on investors to recognise it as a land developer as well as an energy company.

UK Coal, Britain’s biggest coal producer, wants to sell thousands of acres of disused mines to be redeveloped as it looks to move away from coal extraction, the company told City investors this week.

UK Coal inherited most English coalmines following their privatisation in 1994, and has now re-evaluated its brownfield land to be worth in excess of £800m over the next six years once planning permission is granted – a three-fold increase on previous estimates.

Land remediation costs of £40-50m were factored into the new estimate, the company said.

Out of a land portfolio that spans 20,200 hectares 60 sites have been put in the front line for development, with a total area of 1000 hectares which could make way for 14,000 new homes and 570 acres of business parks.

Disused mines in Yorkshire including the Prince of Wales colliery near Pontefract and the Waverley site near Sheffield are to be among the first sites to be developed.

Although it remains Britain’s largest coal producer, UK Coal’s five deep mines and one surface mine now only provide around 7% of the 55m tonnes of coal Britain consumes each year, as cheaper coal is shipped in from Russia or South Africa.

As part of its drive to diversify, UK Coal has recently launched into methane gas extraction, with planning approval for a 12MW methane generation plant granted last September. It is also building a 9MW wind farm on former surface mines.

England has around 63,000 hectares of brownfield land available for redevelopment in total, ministers said earlier this year – enough for 1m homes (see related story).

Goska Romanowicz

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