Artists impression of Hatfield Colliery
A new love affair with coal in Doncaster
Doncaster is fast becoming the future of coal in England - 25 years after closures, strikes and picket lines. Doncaster College are training the country's only mining apprentices. Find out about the jobs that are there for the mining graduates...
:: November 2009
The European Union is to give its stamp of approval for ambitious plans to turn Hatfield Colliery near Doncaster into a 'clean' power station that will cut carbon emission by 90%.
The pilot scheme will capture the carbon dioxide that comes from burning coal, and will store it under the North Sea.
BBC Sheffield's James Vincent tells us about coal at Hatfield up to now:
Hatfield Colliery closed down in 2001. The future was bleak for mining and for the communities that had grown specifically to provide miners for local pits.
But now the shafts are open again, the pit is churning out the black stuff, and jobs for miners are being advertised in Doncaster.
I will write that down again because it seems so amazing: Mining jobs are being advertised in Doncaster.
South Yorkshire has always had these huge untapped reserves of coal, just waiting, ready for when a rise in its value made mining economically viable again.
Now the untapped reserves of talent in those mining communities are being unearthed once more. Doncaster is the only place in the country training new mining apprentices.
Hatfield Colliery is now the centre of this new love affair with coal. A new 900 megawatt power station will be built on the site. It will use coal from the pit and burn it with "near zero- emissions". We are told the new face of coal is green.
The idea of training for a career in mining ten years ago was laughable. The jobs that were there were constantly under threat; job security and mining did not mix. However, 40 apprentices are now learning the trade at Doncaster College. Some are there because they want to carry on a family tradition of working underground, some see it as an exciting way to earn a living, and incredibly all of them see mining as one of the few jobs offering them real stability.
The College’s partnership with British coal’s big three - Powerfuel, UK Coal and Hargreaves - sees students training and getting down shafts in Hatfield and Maltby as soon as possible.
:: Click here to listen to James Vincent speaking to students at Doncaster College
John Edwards runs the courses for the College and he is amazed by the turnaround:
"You wouldn't believe it would you, but the future is here and they've predicted another 35 apprentices for next year so that will make it really healthy as a scheme.
"Some of the collieries have predicted life spans well over 10 years – we have lots of reserves in this area and while its economic to mine these, apprentices will - hopefully - have a job for life."
23-year-old apprentice Adam Fletcher is pleased that there's a resurgence in mining because it means he can be the next in a seam of family members down the pit.
"My grandad worked at Maltby Colliery, my dad worked at Maltby, so I see it as carrying on a family tradition.
"I care more about this job than I have about any other previous employment and I can really see myself having a long term future."
That long term future is a big pull for these apprentices and they do not see their three-year course as a gamble. 17-year-old trainee electrical engineer Leyton Hallam thinks he is in a better position than many of his friends who have left school.
"Hatfield has got a big future with the power station, its something I want to be a part of.
"In today's climate it's not great but we've got a stable job. I know friends who have been laid off and they're struggling."
last updated: 20/11/2009 at 14:00