To support the restoration of opencast mines that have been abandoned as a result of operators going into administration or liquidation, our objective has been to engage with the stakeholders involved in the restoration process and work with them to find solutions to the challenges and opportunities the sites of coal mines can bring.
To ensure that we engage effectively with communities, our initial aim was to appoint two community representatives to the SMRT board.
However after listening to a number of representatives including the Scottish Opencast Communities Alliance (SOCA), we have reached the conclusion the voice of the community would be better heard outwith the boundaries of the boardroom.
It is vital for any community representative to have the freedom to report back freely to the very people they represent, and this would present significant challenges when bound by the legal duties of the board.
As an independent non-profit making organisation, it is vital for us that we form an effective relationship going forward with communities and understand the challenges of the respective sites, given the differing views that can exist in any community.
We therefore propose that community representatives attend our monthly board meetings where appropriate for a specified agenda item around community policy, where we will welcome their views and input into our restoration plans.
We believe this evolution of how we engage with stakeholders will help us to overcome and resolve the challenges and conflicts that can arise when serving the interests of the community in the restoration process.
This engagement will be a key in meeting our objectives of facilitating successful restoration of open cast sites across Scotland, and we have written to community representatives to make them aware of how they can be part of this valuable process.