CAN instructs Barristers to take Welsh Government and the Coal Authority to task over Aberpergwm colliery extension.


Check out what else we're doing now to stop the Aberpergwm coal mine expansion

See our first letter and our second letter 'before action' from lawyers Richard Buxton Solicitors challenging the decisions made around the Aberpergwm coal mine expansion licence.


Under direction by grassroots campaign organisation, Coal Action Network, Barrister Estelle Dehon has sent a letter-before-action to the Welsh Government and the Coal Authority on the grounds that:

  1. Welsh Ministers can apply the Wales Act 2017 to the Aberpergwm coal mine extension licence - requiring approval from Welsh Ministers before the licence becomes valid for coal mining within Wales.
  2. Coal Authority misinterprets its own powers. It can consider wider factors which could include climate change and can still withdraw the licence for the Aberpergwm colliery extension prior to it being ‘granted’ (it is currently only ‘offered’).

Our Barrister thinks they got it wrong.

Our Barrister’s pre-action letter convincingly puts the power to stop the Aberpergwm colliery extension licence firmly in the hands of Welsh Government Ministers. Now it is up to those Ministers to take their rhetoric and put it into swift, decisive action to stop this climate calamity whilst there is still the opportunity to do so. Our pre-action letter also identifies why The Coal Authority, hosted by BEIS of the UK Government, isn’t bound by the narrow set of criteria it claims to be, and could, for instance, site climate change as a reason to withdraw this licence and reject future coal mining licence applications, becoming an ally to our climate commitments rather than an undermining force.

We tried knocking on their doors before putting a letter through their letterboxes…

Coal Action Network tried to avoid legal action, with supporters sending over 4000 emails to Lee Waters of the Welsh Government and Michael Gove of the UK Government, urging them to come to work together and arrive at a common understanding as to which could intervene on the pending licence to extend the Aberpergwm colliery—and then take that action to stop the licence before it’s granted. However, along with our open letter, Ministers ignored thousands of concerned members of the public. As Ministers refuse to respond to the public’s and civil society’s concerns, we must resort to this legal action.

We hope they see sense.

We hope that the Welsh Government and The Coal Authority act swiftly to stop this coal mine, in accordance with the legal grounds identified within the pre-action letter. This may avoid the need for a judicial review. But we cannot allow it to go unchallenged, that every institution and individual involved has shrugged off the responsibility for committing us to the extraction of 70 million tonnes of coal, selling 40 million tonnes of coal, and the release of 1.17 million tonnes of methane and c.100 million tonnes of CO2. This is a terrible climate injustice, it must be stopped, and those responsible must be held to account. The time to draw a line in the sand is now. No new coal mining for any purpose. And the IEA agrees with us (p103).

It's not just about the Aberpergwm colliery extension. This needs to end.

If we must resort to a judicial review to prevent this coal mine, we intend to crowd-fund it and we hope you’ll share it widely. As well as stopping this coal mine extension, a successful legal challenge will dissuade the other coal companies which have conditional licences from the Coal Authority to attempt new coal mines. We would significantly raise the bar against new coal mines.

Published: 09/02/22
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Mel Price, Swansea Climate Action Network
Mel Price, Swansea Climate Action Network
4 months ago

Well done CAN, this issue is too important to played like a political football.
We in Swansea, Neath and Port Talbot are interested in opening up a wider debate regarding the production of steel in Port Talbot which is where the coal will end up.
TATA steel has applied for UK funding to help finance the installation of electric furnaces, this must be considered as an answer to problem otherwise the coal will simply be imported from abroad.
We are seeking to engage with residents, industry, trade unions, local and national governments, protest groups and anyone else wanting to take part in meaningful discussion to ensure a just transition to greener, healthier future for all. This will initially take the form of a people’s assembly, details to follow.

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