mine applications in England are inter-dependent and that, for UK Coal plc, opencast mined coal cheapens the sale price of coal to generating companies thus sustaining a viable coal industry at the expense of social economic costs falling on innocent third parties, local residents. 8
UK Coal plc’s second objective, the reinvention of itself as a property company with coal interests, was initially successful. By 2007 news reports on the company were often citing it as a property play, such as The Independent’s news story “The Investment Column: UK Coal is hot property worth holding onto”. The story drew attention to the fact that
“The stock has soared not because of its coal mining activities, which remain a tiny fraction of what they once were, but because of its property assets. Yesterday's appointment of Jon Lloyd as chief executive designate following Gerry Spindler's decision to return to the US confirms where its future lies. Mr Lloyd was previously the group's property director and he has little mining experience.
UK Coal has a huge land bank - 47,500 acres, of which just 2,650 are under development or in the planning application process. It will probably not attempt to develop all of its property - getting planning permission for former coal mines isn't as simple as getting planning permission for a conservatory, and not all are in suitable locations. But it does still have vast potential for business parks, retail centres and residential property” 9
This perception of UK Coal plc as a property play on the Stock Market which was possibly more interested in promoting its land bank had already been noticed by others. The National Union of Mineworkers told its members in 2005
“Interestingly, if you talk to people in the City they will say that they don't see the company as a coal company but as a land bank company once again our warnings have been proved to be correct.” 10
In the same edition of The Miner, Keith Stanley, the then NUM Vice-Chair is reported as saying this of UK Coal plc.
“UK Coal has responded to that (government) aid by continuing to close
coal mines with vast reserves of coal. They are being allowed to
sterilise an energy resource that this country almost certainly needs”.
Keith Stanley said. He informed the conference that
"UK Coal had no commitment to the mining industry. They are more interested in selling or leasing the land the mines sit on so they can make immediate profits. The company takes the government aid with one hand and pays out dividends with the other.” 11
Judy Mallaber MP also seems to be of this opinion. In a session of the Trade and Industry Select committee in 2007 she made these comments
UK COAL plc: AN ALTERNATIVE REPORTPAGE 19