An open letter to stop the Aberpergwm coal extension

Dear Ministers Lee Waters and Michael Gove,

Combined, both of you have received nearly 4000 emails from people who are dismayed by the news that the deep coal mine operated by EnergyBuild Ltd in Aberpergwm may imminently have the licence to extend it deconditionalised by The Coal Authority regulator. The people we have spoken with are shocked that the UK is embarking on a new commitment to mine up to 40 million tonnes of coal until 2039, emitting around 100 million tonnes of CO2—as well as methane—into our atmosphere. Common questions we heard included “how can this happen just after COP26?”, “shouldn’t this decision be made by Wales?”, and “why don’t these Ministers seem to know who can stop this?”.

Will you answer their questions and respond to their concerns?

Our recommendations:

In the short term, it is critical that Ministers from both the Welsh and UK Governments work together to overcome the political impasse reported by the BBC and The Guardian, and block this coal mine. There are several routes to achieve this. Inaction on this coal mine extension would have unacceptable consequences for the UK’s climate change emissions, and international leadership on phasing down coal.

For the longer term, the UK Government must end the recurring embarrassment of coal mines progressing through a planning system that does not support the its climate commitments. Applications for new coal mines in West Cumbria and near Druridge Bay, as well as a coal mine extension at Nant Helen in Wales, all required Ministers to step in the last-minute. This pattern shows that the planning process needs updating.

We recommend that Minister Michael Gove therefore issues a policy statement that rules out planning permission for all new and extended coal mining across the UK. This be irrespective of the type of coal or proposed end use. The policy statement would send a clear signal domestically and internationally that the UK is serious about leading the global phase-down of coal, and accelerating the decarbonisation of energy and steel production, the latter of which currently drives 11% of climate change emissions.

An invitation to consign coal to history

We invite Minsters from the Welsh and UK Governments to reach out to Coal Action Network and consign new coal mining and extensions to history. Coal Action Network has operated as a grassroots group since 2008 to support local communities across England, Scotland, and Wales to oppose nearby coal mining and associated impacts. As one local community member, after successfully opposing a nearby opencast coal proposal in December 2020, said:

“Coal is our heritage, but it cannot be a part of our future”

Yours sincerely,

Supporters, and the team at Coal Action Network

Published 29.12.2021
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David Black
David Black
6 days ago

Great letter. It would be devastating if this licence got granted just because it ‘slipped through the net’. It should have been turned down for the hugely important environmental considerations which should have meant it didn’t even get past the first hurdle. Climate change is here and happening fast. Our job now must be to ensure it happens as little and as slowly as possible for the sake of our own generations as well as our children’s and future generations. More renewables… now.

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