Opencast coal mine in Douglas Valley, Scotland, UK


Since 1996, the Douglasdale area, comprised of the villages of Douglas, Rigside, and Coalburn, has been host to multiple simultaneously operating open-cast coal mines, with just one of these mines estimated to contain up to 4 million tones of coal (Glentaggart East.) Douglas is currently the proposed, and approved, site of several new coal mining extensions and of an entirely new open-cast mining operation to be located within 1000 m of the village’s hospital.

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Basic Data
NameOpencast coal mine in Douglas Valley, Scotland, UK
CountryUnited Kingdom
Accuracy of LocationMEDIUM regional level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Coal extraction and processing
Specific Commodities
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsAround 1.7 million tonnes of coal and 160,000 tonnes of fireclay were extracted over a five year period with 93 jobs being created.
Project Area (in hectares)136
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population1000
Start Date2007
Company Names or State EnterprisesScottish Coal
Relevant government actorsScottish government, British government, South Lanarkshire Council
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersCoal Action Scotland,, Douglas Community Council, Planning Democracy,
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingInternational ejos
Local ejos
Social movements
Environmental activists
Forms of MobilizationBlockades
Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Development of a network/collective action
Land occupation
Public campaigns
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Potential: Floods (river, coastal, mudflow)
Health ImpactsVisible: Occupational disease and accidents, Other environmental related diseases
Potential: Deaths
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors
Potential: Loss of livelihood, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCorruption
Criminalization of activists
Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Development of AlternativesNo opencast coal mining
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.The Mainshall solidarity camp was evicted in January 2010 and the opencast continued until 2013, when the company, Scotish Coal went bankrupt.
Sources and Materials

Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004:
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The environmental Impact Assessment (Scotland) Regulations 1999:
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Scottish Planning Policy SPP 16 Opencast Coal:
[click to view]


Coal Action Scotland website:
[click to view]

A health study investigating the impacts of opencast coal mining on the health of Douglasdale communities
[click to view]

Assessment Report (Scottish government) Extraction of coal and fireclay by opencast methods. Land at Mainshill near Newmains Farm, Douglas:
[click to view]

[1] The True Cost of Coal to Communities

Scotish Coal website:
[click to view]

The Douglas Community Council (DCC)website:
[click to view]

Newspaper article: Scotland: Open or shut?:
[click to view]

Newspaper article: Coal Action Scotland temporarily halts work at Mainshill mine site:
[click to view]

Website from the Campaigning for a fair and inclusive planning system in Scotland. Douglas Valley open cast coal:
[click to view]

Media Links

Youtube clip about the Mainshill solidarity camp achievements:
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorAmaranta Herrero
Last update09/04/2015