Over the past few weeks, the UK government has styled itself as a leader of an international coal phase-out. But the coal site that everyone had forgotten about could be about to open in their back yard…
For 30 years, residents near Bradley (near Dipton, County Durham), fought against a proposed open cast coal mine which would have had devastating long-term effects on the local environment and community’s health, producing coal for only 2-3 years.
UK Coal were granted permission to open the mine in June 2015 but they had gone into liquidation and the project was shelved, local residents celebrated.
Since then, the government has pledged to phase- out coal, leading the international ‘Powering Past Coal’ alliance. Since the first suggestion of the 2025 coal-phase-out, no new open cast mines have opened.
That could all change now that Banks Group have bought the UK coal site near Bradley.
In January Banks will decide whether or not to exploit the site for coal. Then they have 6 months to strip the land and begin mining.*
This should be very embarrassing for Theresa May, who said this week;
“By putting the UK at the forefront of efforts to cut carbon emissions and develop clean energy, we can also make the most of new economic opportunities. And by taking action to create a secure natural environment, we are fulfilling a duty we owe to the next generation.”
This rings pretty hollow if companies are still able to mine more sites for coal in the UK, devastating local environments and health, while potentially making it easier and cheaper for power stations to burn coal when they should be closing.
This is a cause for concern for communities and campaign groups working against all applications for open cast mines across the UK- a number of which have been left sitting in the appeals process. If a new mine goes ahead, this could set a precedent for opening new mines amid a supposed coal phase-out.
With the price of coal recently spiking, there’s a real possibility that we could start 2018 with more coal being produced in the UK than in 2017. Not exactly ‘Power Past Coal’.
Let’s make sure Banks don’t get away with it, and that the UK government knows that a coal phase-out includes closing mines, as well as power stations!
*Source: Coal Action email exchange with Durham County Council December 2017