Banks Group want to remove 800,000 tonnes of coal and 400,000 tonnes of fireclay from 112 hectares at Dewley Hill, which sits to the North of the A69 near Throckley, on the Newcastle/ Northumberland border.

Recently signs have been erected in the area which saying comments can be made on the application until the 30th July. If you haven’t already made an objection to the opencast we encourage you to do so. Newcastle Council has confirmed that all representations that have already been made will be considered, even though they are temporarily not on the council website.

Local campaign group, Defend Dewley Hill is working against this application.

How you can help

Do you object to this proposal? The council counts every letter which comes relating to the application, anyone can object. Unique letters count more than ones which are copied. Feel free to write your own reasons against the application, some of our objections to the site are listed below.

If you wish to object, please email the councils at dewleyhill@newcastle.gov.uk include the reference number in the subject line 2019/0300/01/DET for Newcastle or 19/00799/CCMEIA for Northumberland (road points only) and give a name and address/ post code. If you copy in defenddewleyhill @ gmail.com (without the spaces) as we are also counting the submissions. Alternatively you can search for the application number at each council and then register and submit comments online.

There have been previous applications for this area dating back to 1992 and 1996 both were rejected, the second was rejected again on appeal.

Dust created by Banks in the Pont Valley

Reasons you may want to include to object:

Local reasons against Dewley Hill opencast

National and international reasons this must be rejected

You can also sign the petition against the opencast proposal, although individual letters hold more weight at planning.

Campaign to Protect Pont Valley and other local people are delighted that Banks plans to further exploit the Pont Valley were dashed.

On the 1st July Durham County Council planning committee voted to reject Banks Group’s controversial proposal for ‘West Bradley’ an extension to the current ‘Bradley’ opencast coal site between Dipton and Leadgate which would have caused another 90,000 tonnes of coal to be extracted over a further 1 year period. Had it been approved it would have added further disruption to people living in the area and worsening the local and international environment.

The written particulars of the decision said, “The proposed development would not be environmentally acceptable with respect to landscape and visual impacts and residential amenity impacts, and could not be made so by planning conditions or obligations contrary to saved County Durham Minerals Local Plan Policies M7a, M23, M24, M36 and M37, Paragraph 211a) of the National Planning Policy Framework and Emerging County Durham Plan Policy 54.”

Although the planning officer for the council considered the County Durham Minerals Local Plan(2008) out of date, she chose to ignore that several of the restrictions it contained which went against this application are also expected to be included in the forth coming County Durham Plan.

Councillor Mark Wilkes who proposed the motion to refuse the opencast explained, said “Is it in the national interest to pump out more CO2 and other pollutants into atmosphere and stymie the development of alternative technologies? The government have committed to a Clean Steel Fund. We have to protect the local community and the nation from the adverse environmental impacts.”

Of the local impacts, a key contentious issue was that the site would be 33m from the nearest homes, where 250 metres had been the acceptable standard in the past, where opencast coal mining includes blasting rock with explosives and releasing dust particles into the surrounding area. Of this point Councillor Wilkes added: “This is where people live and sit in their gardens and want to breathe clean air. This is 2020 not 1820.”

The green area to the top of the image has been saved

Previous opencast coal mine applications have covered the contested area, and always been rejected. The area consisted of two fields which sustained wildlife as they had been left in a fairly natural condition, and a strip of trees at the top of a woodland in an area of High Landscape Value.

Speaking at the hearing, Alan Holmes of Campaign to Protect Pont Valley argued that approval was inconsistent with Durham’s future plans including climate mitigation plans: “The County Durham Plan asserts climate change issues should be considered in every aspect of strategy and decision making. The Officer’s Report recommends no weight is afforded to the emergent County Plan, even though it will form the basis of decision making well into the future.”

Michael Litchfield of Derwent Valley Protection Society also spoke against the mine at the hearing saying “There is no national need for the open cast coal that could possibly outweigh the environmental and social cost of this opportunistic scheme.”

Banks Group had submitted two planning applications, the first to extend the area of coal extraction and the second to change the conditions of the current permit. Both were rejected. As such the opencast has to stop extracting coal in August 2020 and back fill the site, remove the bunds, demolish the facilities and landscape the area by August 2021.

Anne Harris from Coal Action Network said that “We must leave the coal in the ground, here and at the other sites Banks Group wishes to destroy. Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick should take note and decisively reject Druridge Bay, a 3 million tonne coal mine in Northumberland which is still awaiting his decision.

“In contrast to the dodgy developer lobbying we have seen in the news in recent weeks, the community groups and individuals who have petitioned, door-knocked, written letters, have managed to convince planners that a coal mine is not in anyone’s interest. We applaud the councillors who listened to the community and took the only right course of action in a climate emergency. The impact of this decision will be felt nationally as more mines are set to go before planning committees.”

Banks Group’s proposal for another opencast coal site, Dewley Hill near Newcastle, is awaiting a planning hearing date, and has also been countered by a strong community campaign, Defend Dewley Hill.

1st July 2020

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Controversial opencast coal mine rejected: campaigners celebrate

Interviews: Anne Harris, Coal Action Network  contact info@coalaction.org.uk

June Davison, local campaigner, Campaign to Protect Pont Valley can also speak

Further info: isobel@coalaction.org.uk

This morning Durham County Council planning committee voted to reject Banks Group’s controversial proposal for ‘West Bradley’ an extension to the current ‘Bradley’ opencast coal site between Dipton and Leadgate which would have caused another 90,000 tonnes of coal to be extracted over a further 1 year period.

The application was rejected on the grounds that the environmental impacts of the scheme could not be outweighed by its proposed benefits, after nearly 12,000 objections were received.

Councillor Mark Wilkes who proposed the motion to refuse the opencast explained, said “Is it in the national interest to pump out more co2 and other pollutants into atmosphere and stymie the development of alternative technologies? The government have committed to a Clean Steel Fund. We have to protect the local community and the nation from the adverse environmental impacts.”

Of the local impacts, a key contentious issue was that the site would be 33m from the nearest homes, where 250 metres had been the acceptable standard in the past, where opencast coal mining includes blasting rock with explosives and releasing dust particles into the surrounding area. Of this point Cllr Wilkes added: “This is where people live and sit in their gardens and want to breathe clean air. This is 2020 not 1820.”

Speaking at the hearing, Alan Holmes of Campaign to Protect Pont Valley argued that approval was inconsistent with Durham’s future plans including climate mitigation plans: “The County Durham Plan asserts climate change issues should be considered in every aspect of strategy and decision making. The Officer’s Report recommends no weight is afforded to the emergent County Plan, even though it will form the basis of decision making well into the future.”

Michael Litchfield of Derwent Valley Protection Society also spoke against the mine at the hearing saying “There is no national need for the open cast coal that could possibly outweigh the environmental and social cost of this opportunistic scheme.”

Anne Harris from Coal Action Network said that “Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick should take note and decisively reject Druridge Bay, a 3 million tonne coal mine in Northumberland which is still awaiting his decision.

“In contrast to the dodgy developer lobbying we have seen in the news in recent weeks, the community groups and individuals who have petitioned, door-knocked, written letters, have managed to convince planners that a coal mine is not in anyone’s interest. We applaud the councillors who listened to the community and took the only right course of action in a climate emergency. The impact of this decision will be felt nationally as more mines are set to go before planning committees.”

Banks Group’s proposal for another opencast coal site, Dewley Hill near Newcastle, is awaiting a planning hearing date, and has also been countered by a community campaign.

Two mining companies, Banks Group and West Cumbria Mining, are trying to start coal mines based on the idea that digging up coal locally is better for the climate, because otherwise it would come from abroad.

Leading resource enconomist, Professor Paul Ekins O.B.E., UCL Institute of Sustainable Resources, explains why this is’ economic nonsense’, and how digging up more coal adds to greenhouse gas emissions, no matter where it comes from.

Read Profesor Ekin’s full objection to Banks Group’s proposal for West Bradley opencast coal mine.

The video footage shows the current opencast coal extraction at Bradley, Pont Valley, County Durham. The company want to extend the operation to mine 90,000 tonnes more coal based on their incorrect claim that mining local coal saves greenhouse gas emissions.

We’ve had some good news and some news

News

The extension proposed by Banks Group to the existing mine in the Pont Valley will be heard by the first remote planning hearing by Durham County Council on Wednesday 1st July at 9.30am. It is the second item on the agenda of the council, you can watch the proceedings live.

The council have refused applications on three occasions since the 1980s. The existing opencast was only approved after two planning inquiries.

Now there is no need for this coal. The proposal includes blasting rock within 500m of 150 residences and an arrogant assumption that Bank’s restoration will provide better wildlife habitats than those it seeks to destroy. For more details see our invite to object (although it is now too late to do so.)

Good news

Cumbria County Council has delayed the planning hearing for the proposed Woodhouse Colliery coking coal mine off the coast of Whitehaven.

Cumbria County Council said, “Due to unprecedented numbers of representations being received on this application, including some received after the Consultation deadline and some that have contained new evidence, the Council has decided to postpone taking this application to the Development Control and Regulation Committee for a decision on 8th July in order to properly consider all representations and documentation received. The Council will now look to provide an alternative date. Please check our website on www.cumbria.gov.uk for further information”.

This is a result of all the concerned people who wrote to the council and brought up considerations which were missed or ignored when the application was approved in 2019.

The approval had been subjected to Judicial Review proceedings and as such was altered by the company, hence being returned to the planning committee.

A big thank you and well done to all those who put efforts into this, especially Marianne who brought the Judicial Review, the brilliant team at SLACC and many experts in the field who voiced that the mine is a bad idea.

We will keep you posted here and on social media of any updates.

We are honoured to be working in solidarity with indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities in La Guajira, Northern Colombia who have spent decades demanding justice from the companies operating Latin America’s biggest coal mine, Cerrejón, and slowing down the mine’s expansion with legal challenges and direct action. The mine exports coal to Europe and the multinationals are listed on the London Stock Exchange.

Covid-19 relief campaign

Lately, we’ve been collaborting with Nación Wayuu, who focus on the human rights of indigenous Wayuu communities in the remotest northern parts of La Guajira. These communities have been badly affected by the open-top coal wagons that transport coal daily through their territory to the port, to be shipped to Europe. It’s caused health problems, and along with climate change, has made it a near impossible environment to grow food. On top of which, the mine and other extractive industries take large amounts of water, leaving communities dependent on rations from the company, rather than able to grow their own food or have autonomy over their basic resources.

Now, due to the lockdown, Wayuu people can no longer travel out of their communities to get essential food and water which is no longer available on their own land. Nación Wayuu have been one of the local groups helping deliver aid to the families in most need. We have supported them with a crowdfunder which is still live.

Indigenous leaders in danger

Indigenous activists in La Guajira are subject to threats of violence and assassination from alleged paramilitary groups. It came to our attention lately that José Silva, organiser of Nación Wayuu, was the subject of rumours about embezzling funds. For indigenous activists in Colombia, rumours can be extremely dangerous. Death threats that incite violence against indigenous leaders often cite rumours of their alleged misconduct as justification. José himself has survived an attempt on his life and was threatened again in December 2019. Last week there was a threatening person following him on a motorbike. This is the daily reality for people who stand up to multinational companies and advocate for indigenous autonomy.

State participation in deadly rumours

As allies of José and his colleagues, responsible for raising the money that drew this hostile attention towards him, it feels imperative to express why we trust him and why these rumours are dangerous to him and his colleagues. In particular we were concerned that these rumours were not only picked up by, but seem to have originated from, agents acting on behalf of the Colombian police, and we have seen no evidence to back them up. Until now we haven’t heard of Colombian state institutions themselves being responsible for rumours that put activists in very real danger, since they are meant to be keeping social leaders safe. It is a worrying development for all of our allies in Colombia.

Along with other European allies, we sent the letter below (in Spanish and then in English) to Colombian state institutions that have been implicated in this hostility and those which are mandated to act to protect human rights in Colombia. Here we publically affirm our continued support for and trust in Nación Wayuu and our admiration for their incredible work.

You can continue to donate to Nación Wayuu’s Covid-19 crowdfunding page. Subscribe to our mailing list to stay up to date with further actions we’ll take to support coal-affected communities and defend social leaders’ right to safety in Colombia.

No Podrán Callar Nuestras Voces /  They cannot silence our voices

José wrote this poetic piece on his recent experiences.

ESTADO SOCIAL DE DERECHO PORQUE ME PERSIGUES?

Estado social de Derecho porque queréis Judicializar y encarcelar a quienes alzan la voz por los más débiles y oprimidos?

Porque permites el asesinato de quienes no tienen miedo de denunciar a la corrupción que asesina más niños que la misma hambre y desnutrición?

Porque callas y te arrodillas ante los criminales que se pasean por los grandes capitolios del país?

Estado Social de Derecho porqué tus jueces y fiscales tiemblan ante la verdad y prefieren juzgar a quien no ha hecho nada.

Colombia! Estado Social de Derecho! La sangre y la inocencia de quienes creyeron en ti, desde el más allá aún siguen clamando justicia.

Colombia Estado Social de Derecho, mientras viva no podras callar mi voz y si me encarcelas más duro gritaré y si me asesinas no solo oirás mi voz si no las voces de Miles de niños que han muerto de hambre y sed en esta Península olvidada y saqueada por un estado Social de Derecho.

Autor: JOSE SILVA DUARTE
Defensor de DDHH

Letter to Colombian authorities re. Nación Wayuu harrassment

West Cumbria Mining want to dig an underground coking coal mine (coal for steel) under the sea near to Whitehaven, Cumbria. If approved the mine would produce 2.78 million tonnes of coal per year for fifty years, mainly for export to European steel works.

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Update 25th June 2020 – the planning hearing was scheduled for the 8th July 2020.  Cumbria County Council has said, “Due to unprecedented numbers of representations being received on this application, including some received after the Consultation deadline and some that have contained new evidence, the Council has decided to postpone taking this application to the Development Control and Regulation Committee for a decision on 8th July in order to properly consider all representations and documentation received.” Thank you for all your objections. 

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The mine was approved last year, but has been re-submitted for re-approval because of a legal challenge brought by local group Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole.

Learn more about coking coal (for steel) and the history of the battle against ‘Woodhouse Colliery’ here.

We have only until 15th June to send objections!

How to Object

It doesn’t need to be long, or super knowledgeable. It needs to show you care. Three sentences is enough but you can make it more detailed and persuasive with some of the extra info below.

We’ve teamed up with 38 degrees to make it really easy for you to object.

Click here to send your objection

OR email your objection to development.control@cumbria.gov.uk and and copy in info@coalaction.org.uk . You must include Application Ref No: 4/17/9007 and your postcode.

Start your email with:

I am opposed to the Woodhouse Colliery because….

What to Write

Include some reasons you’re opposed to a new coal mine starting.

Pick one or two and say it in your own words.

Stop the Climate Emergency

If you want to add more detail…

Talk about why the climate crisis matters to you. Be passionate!

The judgement against Heathrow has shown that the Paris Agreement is legally enforceable in the UK, meaning that large scale, long-term high carbon projects like this one could face legal challenges.

The company has said that only their on-site emissions (at the mine itself) should be considered, not the emissions from where the coal is burned. But this is unlawful according to the Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations. See South Lakes Action Against Climate Change legal letter to Cumbria County Council.

Help the Green Steel revolution

If you want to add more detail…

Steel manufacturing using coal is a very polluting process. For every tonne of steel produced using coking coal, two tonnes of CO2 is released.

We don’t need coal in steelmaking. While steel remains a much used material in the construction of many infrastructure projects, it does not have to be produced using coal. Metallurgical coal can be replaced with natural gas in a process called Direct Reduced Iron (DRI) which creates about 40% less CO2 emissions than steel produced using coal. Globally natural gas based DRI already accounts for 5% of steel making.

In order to further reduce emissions steel making techniques are developing quickly, with the Hybrit project from SSAB, LKAB, and Vattenfall aiming to begin production of fossil-free steel as early as 2026 using hydrogen instead of natural gas.

Cumbria County Council has pledged to become carbon neutral

If you want to add more detail…

The company’s claim to be carbon neutral is based on a false claim that coal extracted domestically ‘displaces’ coal that could be extracted and imported from elsewhere, rather than adding extra coal to the market which will add additional CO2 emissions. Professor Paul Ekins of the UCL institute of sustainable resources explains why what the company says is false: “There is no evidence to suggest that coal from the new mine would result in reductions in coal extracted from mines overseas. Basic economic theory suggests that […] an increase in the supply of a commodity such as coking coal will reduce the price of the commodity, leading to increased demand, and therefore increased emissions.”

The company argues that coal in steel can be made carbon-free using Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) but this is not likely to be available at scale, whereas coal-free steel alternatives (above) are.

There are many other reasons to object, such as impacts on the local marine life, local economy and more detailed planning arguments, see South Lakes Action on Climate Change

Thank you

This really works! Thanks to those of you who wrote objections to our other campaigns in the past 12 months, two other coal mine applications: Dewley Hill and West Bradley were slowed down, giving local campaigners more time to make their voices heard.

Coal for energy is on the way out, and coal for steel and industry is the next big battle. We’re glad to have you with us.

Click here to send your objection

OR email your objection to development.control@cumbria.gov.uk and and copy in info@coalaction.org.uk . You must include Application Ref No: 4/17/9007 and your postcode.

West Cumbria Mining want to dig an underground coking coal mine under the sea near to Whitehaven, Cumbria. If approved the mine would produce 2.78 million tonnes of coking coal a year for fifty years, mainly for export to European steel works.

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Update 25th June 2020 – the planning hearing was scheduled for the 8th July 2020.  Cumbria County Council has said, “Due to unprecedented numbers of representations being received on this application, including some received after the Consultation deadline and some that have contained new evidence, the Council has decided to postpone taking this application to the Development Control and Regulation Committee for a decision on 8th July in order to properly consider all representations and documentation received.” Thank you for all your objections. 

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Timeline of events
May 2017. Application was submitted to Cumbria County Council.
19th March 2019. Cumbria County Council approved the land section of the mine.
31st October 2019. The decision was ratified.
12th December 2019. Leigh Day lawyers served papers on Cumbria County Council on behalf of a local person, to bring them to a Judicial Review, a procedure whereby the process of deciding the planning application is reviewed.
6th May 2020. As part of the Judicial Review West Cumbria Mining amended the application.
15th June 2020. Deadline for objecting to the application.
July 2020. Date proposed for council planning hearing.
In future. The Marine Management Organisation considers whether to approve the undersea section of the mine.

What is coking coal?
There are broadly two types of hard coal which is the sort found in this country. Coking coal or metallurgical coal is processed and turned into coke. Coke is used as a reducing agent in the production of steel in blast furnaces. This is the type at the proposed Woodhouse Colliery.

The other major type of coal in the UK is thermal coal which is mainly used in power stations. Alternative energy sources are widely implemented.

This mine would produce exclusively coking coal. A significant amendment made in 2020 was to not mine any middlings coal, which West Cumbria Mining said would go to power stations.

Do we need more coal for steel making?
No. While steel remains a much used material in the construction of many infrastructure projects, it does not have to be produced using coal at all. Metallurgical coal can be replaced with natural gas in a process called Direct Reduced Iron (DRI) which creates about 40% less CO2 emissions than steel produced using coal. Globally natural gas based DRI already accounts for 5% of steel making.[1]

In order to further reduce emissions steel making techniques are developing quickly, with the Hybrit project from SSAB, LKAB, and Vattenfall aiming to begin production of steel as early as 2026 using hydrogen instead of natural gas.[2]

Why should we oppose this application?
1) We have to reach net zero carbon by 2050. This application proposes mining and using coal in steel works until after 2070.
2) The more coal is mined the more we burn.
3) There are no other existing UK mines producing predominantly coking coal.

Details of why the mine should not go ahead
1) In 2019 the Climate Change Act (2008) was amended. This enshrines in law the need for the UK to reach zero-carbon emissions by 2050.[3] If approved, this application would be supplying steel works with coal and emitting large amounts of carbon.
Steel manufacturing using blast furnaces and coke is a very polluting process. For every tonne of steel produced using coking coal, 770kg of coal is required and two tonnes of CO2 is released.[4] In the European Union there are around 500 plants.[5] Steel plants are now the biggest single point CO2 emitters in the Netherlands, Spain, UK, France, Austria, Finland and Slovakia. 8% of the CO2 emissions from countries in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme in 2019 came from steel works.[6]

2) Professor Paul Ekins explains that, “There is no evidence to suggest that coal from the new mine would result in reductions in coal extracted from mines overseas. Basic economic theory suggests that […] an increase in the supply of a commodity such as coking coal will reduce the price of the commodity, leading to increased demand, and therefore increased emissions.”[7] Investment in the steel industry is needed now. Low cost coal is not the solution, coal free steel is.

3) The six opencast coal mines that will be operating after July 2020[8] all produce thermal coal for power stations and some additionally produce a small amount of coking coal. There is another application to extract coking coal from Lochinvar.[9] We need to show that this industry is not welcome in the UK for the reasons described above.

How to object
Write to Cumbria Council by the 15th June 2020. Please give the reasons why you believe that this application should be rejected. You must include the application reference No: 4/17/9007, your name and address including postcode. Anyone can object, you don’t have to be from the surrounding area.

The process from here
In July 2020 Cumbria County Council will decide the application (Covid 19 restrictions permitting).
Further legal avenues may be explored by either side of the argument if the decision is unsound. The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, currently Robert Jenrick, could call in the decision. This means that the government makes the decision rather than relying on the ruling of the County Council. This could happen whatever the decision of Cumbria County Council.

References
[1] Material Economics, Industrial Transformation 2050 – Pathways to Net-Zero Emissions from EU Heavy Industry. (2019) page 84. https://materialeconomics.com/latest-updates/industrial-transformation-2050
[2] SSAB, SSAB to be first to market with fossil-free steel (14 November 2019) https://www.ssab.com/news/2019/11/ssab-to-be-first-to-market-with-fossilfree-steel
[3] Statutory Instruments The Climate Change Act 2008 (2050 Target Amendment) Order 2019 (26 June 2020) https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2019/1056/article/2/made
[4] The Manufacturer, The Greensteel revolution: What’s it all about? (10 April 2018) https://www.themanufacturer.com/articles/the-greensteel-revolution-whats-it-all-about/
[5] European Commission, The EU Steel Industry https://ec.europa.eu/growth/sectors/raw-materials/industries/metals/steel_en
[6] Ember, Europe’s coal power collapse exposes steel plants as Europe’s biggest emitters (April 2020) https://ember-climate.org/project/ets-2019-release/
[7] Paul Ekins, Letter to Cumbria County Council, dated 5 December 2019. Available on request.
[8] Coal Action Network, using figures from The Coal Authority, Production and Manpower returns for three month period January to March 2020 https://www.coalaction.org.uk/2020/06/coal-round-up-june-2020
[9] New Age Exploration, Lochinvar (Coking Coal) https://www.nae.net.au/projects/lochinvar/

Produced by Coal Action Network (UK) www.coalaction.org.uk (4th June 2020)

Hargreaves has announced it will be closing both its UK opencast mines by July 2020.The Field House mine in Durham was expected to produce coal until August 2020. Hargreave’s  House of Water opencast in East Ayrshire produced ‘speciality coal’ for use in industries outside of power stations.

COVID 19

Banks Group are continuing to operate the Bradley opencast in the Pont Valley, Durham despite Covid-19.

The lockdown has forced councils to suspend planning hearings or change decision making processes. This is expected to mean delays to the planning hearings for Dewley Hill and Bradley West (see below).

There has been no decision announced regarding Banks Group’s Druridge Bay (Highthorn) application. Robert Jenrick is said to have made his decision but the timing of his statement is affected by the corona virus pandemic.

Power stations closure plans

Drax power station has announced that it will stop burning coal by March 2021 after almost five decades as one of western Europe’s most polluting power plants. Sadly the last two units are being replaced with another polluting fossil fuel, gas. Much of the wood which it burns comes from the clear-felling of biodiverse forests in Europe and the Southern USA which are home to many rare and endangered species.

EDF are reviewing the future of its West Burton power station, after the governmental support through the capacity market payments stop in September 2021. West Burton burns coal from Banks Group’s opencast mines in the North East of England, as well as imported coal.

Kilroot coal and oil power station in Northern Ireland is going to be converted to gas. No timeline for the end of coal use has been announced.

At Ratcliffe on Soar power station the owner Uniper plans to turn the power station into an incinerator for household waste and produce heat and electricity. There is no planning permission for this yet. United Kingdom withouth incineration network (UKWIN) highlight the problems with incinerators including air pollution and climate change, with a campaign against an incinerator at Ratcliffe.

The alternative fuels proposed at Ratcliffe, Kilroot and Drax would result in slightly lower greenhouse gas emissions and not require coal mining. However, these changes are not solutions to the climate or air pollution crisis and they involve building new infrastructure reliant on combustion leaving us dependent on fossil fuels or high levels of domestic waste.

 Coal phase-out In early February the Prime Minister said that the coal phase-out could be brought forward from the end of 2025 to October 2024. This is not soon enough for communities at the front-lines of fossil fuel extraction.

Reduced demand for electricity due to the covid pandemic means that no electricity has been generated from coal since the 10th April 2020. 55 days and counting at the point of writing (4th June 2020).

Opencast coal

The existing mines, by company are:

Closing sites

Banks Group proposed sites:

Highthorn (Druridge Bay), Northumberland. This application was approved by Northumberland County Council in 2016. Central government then over turned the decision in 2018. This was appealed and a new decision is still awaited.

Dewley Hill, on the outskirts of Newcastle, the planning hearing has been delayed by Covid protections.

Extension at Bradley opencast (see above).

Underground mining There are currently no underground mines operating of significant size.

Proposed underground mines West Cumbria Mining have amended their application for the land aspect of a new underground coking coal near Whitehaven in May 2020. If constructed this would produce coking coal for export for 50 years. Cumbria County Council will decide the application in July 2020.

New Age Exploration (an Australian company) are applying for licences for an underground coking coal mine at Lochinvar, on the border between England and Scotland. If constructed the company hopes to be producing coal until 2044.

Stockpiles Total UK coal stock levels increased in 2018 to 5.3 million tonnes, broadly similar to the previous year. [2]

There is already more coal above ground than the UK government predicts will be consumed if coal were phased-out in 2025. We don’t need to extract or import any more. This is especially so, if the phase-out date is brought forward.

Want to help in the fight against coal?

Queries and media contact: info @ coalaction . org .uk (without spaces)

References

[1] The Coal Authority, Production and Manpower returns for three month period January to March 2020 and other sources.

[2] Department for Business, Industry and Industrial Strategy, Statistical Press Release. UK Energy Statistics, 2019 & Q4 2019 (26 March 2020) page 6

Image

The photograph above shows Shotton opencast in late May 2020. Coal production has ceased. Coal is still processed and stockpiled from this mine and from Bradley opencast. In the background are one of the overburden mounds.

West Cumbria Mining and Banks Group are two companies currently exploring further large scale coal mining projects in the UK.

Both have used flawed economic logic to claim that their coal extraction is either ‘carbon neutral’ or that they are actually saving GHGs, as an alternative to imported coal. In the case of West Cumbria mining, this claim was adopted by Cumbria County Council and lead to a successful application for a coking coal mine set to run beyond 2050.

Below, Prof Paul Ekins O.B.E, a leading resource economist and policy advisor, explains why this argument is, in his words, “economic nonsense” and should not justify the extension of the Bradley coal mine in County Durham, which is currently up for review.

This letter was submitted as part of the consultation on Banks’ proposal to mine at West Bradley. There’s still time to submit your own response (it doesn’t have to be as long and detailed as Prof. Ekins!) here.

[pdf-embedder url=”https://www.coalaction.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Coal_Bradley-Extension_PE-let_200421.pdf” title=”Coal_Bradley Extension_PE let_200421″]