PLANS for an employee buy-out aimed at saving more than 700 jobs at Kellingley Colliery have been withdrawn.

Site owners UK coal announced an 18 month closure of the colliery, near Selby, in April.

In response 720 workers each pledged £2,000 and a ten per cent pay cut to fund a buy-out, in a bid to keep the pit open a further six years.

However the buy-out proposals have now bee shelved by the National Union of Mineworkers, which claims UK Coal made the buy-out “unviable”.

The union claims the company has stated the workers would have to take on debts totalling £45 million including those from its second deep-pit, Thoresby in Nottinghamshire.

Chris Kitchen, from the union, said: "As it stands, the employee buyout has been shelved, not totally ditched. The main problem is the costs have spiralled out of control.

"The lads at the pit were thinking of taking on Kellingley's debts, which was doable. But when you're talking about them shouldering the whole of the company, it wasn't realistic."

UK Coal has strongly denied that it is 'blocking' an employee buyout of the pit, and branded the union’s plan “woeful” finding flaws in a failure to take proper financial advice when putting together the buy-out proposal.

UK Coal is now pushing ahead with the closure plan.