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Profits and Pollution before Penicuik

Proposals for a huge new opencast coal mine in Midlothian have been given the go-ahead. The plans will see 10 million tonnes of coal excavated over 10 years at the 500-acre Cauldhall site  which will cover an area the size of 1,000 football pitches, near Penicuik.

Nine councillors voted in favour of the mine, which planning officers recommended be approved because it is in the national interest.

An action group called Stop Cauldhall Opencast, said the decision was a "travesty of the planning process". Malcolm Spaven from the protest group said: "What's the point in Scottish and Local Planning Policy if it can all be torn to shreds at the whim of a planning committee?"

Green MSP for Lothian Alison Johnstone, who is a member of Holyrood's economy and energy committee, said: "The impacts on local communities from this proposal, such as noise, dust and heavy traffic, are completely unacceptable. It is utterly illogical to approve yet more coal mining given a whole host of factors. Cockenzie power station is switched off so there's nowhere local for this coal to go." She added: "Scotland has already failed its first two annual climate targets so more fossil fuel is the last thing we need, and we've seen landscapes across Scotland scarred by opencast being abandoned by companies that go bust. Hargreaves' plan is contrary to the local plan and the council's economic development strategy."

WWF Scotland director Lang Banks said it sent a "terrible signal about Scotland's commitment to tackling climate change".

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