THE coal industry is facing a crackdown by the Scottish Government amid growing anger over large swathes of countryside left “scarred” by abandoned opencast mines.

Firms which go bust are walking away from areas which have been affected, prompting energy minister Fergus Ewing to unveil plans for new regulations to ensure sites are “appropriately restored”.

The move follows a controversial court decision earlier this year which gave defunct Scottish Coal’s liquidators the right to effectively abandon clean-up operations on opencast mines.

A consultation on the new regulations was launched by the SNP government as MSPs prepare to debate the issue today at Holyrood.

Mr Ewing co-chairs the Scottish Open Cast Mining Taskforce which was set up earlier this year in the wake of the closure of Scottish Coal.

But he warned that compliance monitoring, enforcement and financial assurance systems are not working effectively enough at each site.

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The Scotsman (18 Sep 2013)