THE Coalfields Regeneration Trust has joined the battle to help people in Clackmannan, Kincardine and the West Fife villages deal with the devastating fallout from the closure of Longannet Power Station.

The mining charity has launched its own Coalfields Longannet Initiative, which will work with the government-appointed task force and Fife Council to try and cushion the blow of the closure, which wiped out 230 direct jobs, and an estimated 1000 indirect jobs, at a cost of £50m a year to the local economy.

The CRT has already helped seven areas in Fife and Clacks devise five-year community action plans to secure a better future for their area through its Coalfields Community Futures programme, including: Bowmar, Clackmannan, Oakley and Comrie, Saline and Steelend, Valleyfield, Blairhall, and Kincardine, where the power station is sited.

Now the trust will use its community engagement and participatory budgeting skills to reach out to local people, small businesses and traders to give them a real say in what they want from the task force.

Bob Young, Scottish Trustee of the CRT, said: “We are taking this step because we are ideally placed to make a real difference to the work of the task force.

“We know the area and issues, we have the confidence of the local communities, and experience of helping them decide what they want for their areas.

“All too often community consultation exercises over closures like this can become talking shops but we won’t let that happen to Longannet. And we will make sure local people have their say."

Fellow Trustee Nicky Wilson added: “Our Coalfields Community Futures programme has been a huge success, and now we want to find a way to make it work on a wider scale taking in all the mining villages most affected by Longannet’s closure.

“It’s a huge challenge but one we are confident we can meet head on, by empowering local communities, and creating a model for maximising local input for similar task force interventions in the future.”

The CRT has hired Gary Porter, an employment and skills training specialist who has worked in some of Glasgow’s worst employment blackspots, to lead their Longannet regeneration programmes.

They are also organising a Conference on July 28 to let representatives of the local communities decide local priorities, and to set up a steering group to provide continuity.

Gary Ellis, chief executive of the CRT, said: “This is a ground-breaking intervention by our staff in Scotland and a tangible demonstration of how the Coalfields Regeneration Trust has become proactive in devising and delivering imaginative and effective economic and social regeneration in former mining communities."

Mr Porter, added: “I see the CRT’s Longannet Initiative as the glue that binds all the other parties together. We are an independent charity and can provide all sorts of benefits including access to funding, capacity building and training programmes.

“I am already out and about in the area, talking to local people and small businesses like cafes and shops, discussing their issues, and ensuring they feel part of the process."

The Launch conference for the Coalfields Longannet Initiative will be held in Kincardine Community Centre, 10.00am-2.00pm, on July 28.

Further details from Gary Porter on or 01259 271 127.