Victory - Brit will never insure Adani coal mine

Major Lloyd’s of London insurer Brit is the latest firm to rule out insurance for Adani’s controversial Carmichael coal mine project.

“Brit does not, has never, and will not write any policies relating directly to the Adani Carmichael coal mine itself,” Brit wrote in an email to Insure Our Future. “In addition, Brit also confirms that it does not plan to renew any risks involving any other associated with the project.”

Brit is the sixth insurer to stop underwriting risks directly related to or associated with Adani’s Carmichael coal mine project, joining AXA XL, Liberty Mutual, and HDI Talanx, who were insuring the coal mine before ruling out further involvement, and Lloyd’s insurers Apollo and Aspen Re, who committed to stop underwriting the project when active policies expire.

Brit’s commitment is a major blow to Adani’s disastrous Carmichael coal project. Lloyd’s of London was one of the last places on Earth that Adani could turn to find insurance, and Brit was one of the largest remaining insurers. Now, Lloyd’s doors are just inches from being closed to Adani, for good.

This announcement came days after 750 Coal Action Network supporters flooded the inboxes and phone lines of Brit and other Lloyd's of London insurers.  This pressure was in solidarity with the ongoing action taken by the Australian Stop Adani movement. Locals in Coffs Harbour (Australia) had been hounding Brit for months and our combined pressured worked. Now the Stop Adani moment has asked us to pile the pressure on another key Lloyd's insurer - Hiscox.

Liisa from Stop Adani Coffs Harbour describes the campaign: "For months we got no formal response from Brit. We were getting worried – but we kept at it, sharing our stories, adapting our tactics, and trying new things. We were buoyed by conversations with some Brit staff in London, who were also concerned about the Great Barrier Reef, bushfires and the role of coal in fueling these climate impacts.

Our unrelenting phone calls, emails and calendar reminders, combined with the actions of other #StopAdani groups and our allies in UK, made ripples which grew to a wave that Brit could not ignore."

Tonight, the end of an 800-year era for coal exports from the North East of England

Tonight, 18th February 2021, marks the final shipment of coal mined from the North East of England. This marks a momentous victory for the years of anti-coal action, most recently the successfully defeated open cast coal mine application in Dewley Hill, near Newcastle.

The heritage of coal exports from the North East of England goes back to the 13th Century, but it has increasingly become a legacy in decline and with it, levels of deprivation that are also seen in other former-coalfield regions of the UK. The government must do more to ensure there is a just transition from jobs in coal and fossil fuels, to jobs in a genuinely green economy.

Jude Campbell, who campaigned against an application for a new coal mine in Dewley Hill from 2019-2021, says “As a former union rep the prospect of redundancy… does not sit easily with me. However, [coal is] a declining industry and it is grossly irresponsible to promise these workers employment in this industry ad infinitum when coal is on the way out in favour of green technologies”.

So today, at the end of an era, would be an apt landmark for government to ‘level up’ by renewing and acting on their commitment to materially support a sustainable economy in the North East of England.

With the UK’s climate commitments (not least to phase out coal-fired power generation by 2024/5) and the declining contribution of coal to the national grid, this day was inevitable – and critical if the UK is serious about taking action on climate change. Coal remains the single largest emitter of CO2 in the world, out-stripping oil and gas. Without a rapid and drastic reduction in the use of coal, catastrophic climate change is certain.

Tonight, coal from Durham open cast coal mine, operated by Hargreaves, will leave the UK on a ship from Longwave Port of Tyne, most likely to be burned in a power station to produce electricity. This coal mine ceased actively extracting coal in 2020. Now Hargreaves is merely transporting mined coal out of the mine - the last open cast coal mine to do so in the North East after Bradley open cast coal mine in County Durham, operated by Banks’ Group, had its application for extension rejected and closed in August 2020.

“Coal is a proud part of our history in the North East, but it is not our future” – Jos, Newcastle.

Published: 18.02.2021

Lloyd's of London Insure the Adani Mega-mine

People across Australia have been fighting for 10 years to stop one on the most devastating mining projects currently being planned on the globe. The Adani coal mine, if it goes ahead, will open up the Galilee basin - one of the biggest untouched coal reserves on the planet - paving the way for at least eight more coal mines to be built. All at a time when scientists are warning we can't build any more fossil fuel infrastructure if we want to avoid catastrophic global heating.

Australia is already the world's number one exporter of coal and these mega-mines would double their current output! If that isn't enough, if built, Adani’s Carmichael mine will:

  • Destroy the ancestral lands, waters and cultures of Indigenous people.
  • Allow 500 more coal ships to travel through the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area every year for 60 years.
  • Get access to 270 billion of Queensland's precious groundwater for 60 years, for free.
  • Risk damaging aquifers of the Great Artesian Basin.

People across Australia have been fighting for 10 years to stop one on the most devastating mining projects currently being planned on the globe. Folks in Australia have asked for our help to stop Adani and here's why...

On the front line of the Adani mine standing their ground are the Wangan and Jagalingou people who have never given their free, prior, and informed consent to Adani’s mine and have said "No" to Adani 5 times. Adani has not only stolen their land (with the government's permission) but also bankrupted their spokesperson.

The Wangan and Jagalingou people are joined by others from across Australia standing up to corrupt politicians and the mining giants who own them. Together they have built the biggest climate movement in Australia's history. The Stop Adani movement have made this mine an iconic fight for climate justice - rallying across the country, blocking the train lines leading to Adani's coal port, occupying politicians offices, and building support amongst the majority of Australians for the #StopAdani campaign.

The campaign has been massively successful stopping commercial banks across the world investing in the project, and getting contractors associated with the project to pull out. However, as it stands, this mine will go ahead. That's why they are asking for people in the UK to join them in solidarity to Stop Adani.

Last year documents were leaked showing that Lloyd's of London are insuring the Adani mine. This kicked off a wave of actions targeting the individual insurance companies that make up the Lloyd's marketplace. The majority of the 70+ insurance companies involved have committed to not reinsure Adani. The 13 left are holding out and are getting so used to hearing Australian accents on the phone that they just hang up when they hear them.

The Stop Adani movement have asked people in the UK to join them and help get these last few insurers to rule out the project. If the coal mine can't get insured then it can't operate.

TAKE ACTION - You can get involved by contacting Lloyd's of London and asking them to rule out the project.

“Nothing neutral in new coal” - youth activists pressure government to stop coking coal mine

Urgent youth virtual action

Thanks to everyone who helped, this action was a success and resulted in this coverage, ‘Coal is not the goal’: Teenage climate activists deliver petition to government over Cumbria coal mine

Opposition is growing to a plan for a massive underground coking coal mine under the sea near Whitehaven, in the north west of England. Cumbria County Council gave permission for the mine to extract nearly 3 million tonnes of coal until 2049. The coal is mostly for export and is ‘coking’ coal that would be consumed by the carbon-intensive steel industry. [1] Despite this, the mining company claim the coal mined would be ‘carbon neutral’.., and the Council believed them! Mining new coal can never be carbon neutral of course, but if there’s any doubt, here’s an expert explaining why. We're angry that the government is failing to stop this coal mine, not least in the same year that it hosts the COP26 global climate summit. The government can still stop this mine.
Thanks to everyone who sent us photos are part of this process. We are going to be putting them into a film and releasing them to the media and on social media soon. Watch this space!

For those who sent us photos, you agreed that: By sending us a photo, you and your parent/guardian agree for us to use the photo in the video described, on our website and social media, and to share with third-party video producers and media. You also understand that you may be identifiable from the photo and the photo may be used in related campaigns in the future. We won't publish your name unless it’s in your image, or we ask you first. If you change your mind later, we can delete your photo but we cannot remove it where others have saved it/shared it.

Many thanks,

Anne Harris and the team at Coal Action Network

 

References

[1] Cumbria County Council Executive Director - Economy and Infrastructure, Development

control and regulation committee Application Reference No:4/17/90077.17 (2 October 2020)

[2] Ember, Europe’s coal power collapse exposes steel plants as Europe’s biggest emitters (2019) https://ember-climate.org/project/ets-2019-release/

 

Key facts and figures on the West Cumbria Mining Project

What's been proposed?

West Cumbria Mining Ltd. want to extract 2.78 million tonnes of coking coal a year from under the sea near Whitehaven in a ‘deep’ coal mine. Cumbria County Council gave permission for them to do so until 2049 in October 2020. The coal is predominantly for export and would be consumed by the steel industry.

What is coking coal?

Coking coal is a type of coal used in steel works to create steel using blast furnaces. In the UK, the second and third biggest single site emitters of CO2e (gasses which cause climate change) are Port Talbot and Scunthorpe steel works respectively, which both use coking coal.i Coking coal (also known as metallurgical coal) is a reducing agent in the creation of steel from iron. It has a higher monetary value than thermal coal which is used in power stations to generate electricity.

Producing steel from coal is a high carbon process. If this mine were to go ahead and the coal was extracted and consumed it would produce 9 million tonnes of CO2e a year,ii at a time when we need to drastically reduce the emissions, especially in the most affluent countries.

Where would the coal go if it was extracted?

West Cumbria Mining Ltd. say that 83% of the coal extracted would be sold abroad,iii via the port at Redcar potentially to Europe. Only up to 17% is expected to be used in the UKiv because this coking coal has a high sulphur content.v If the British steel industry use too much, it risks exceeding the sulphur dioxide limits plants must adhere to. Sulphur dioxide causes acid rain.

But we need coking coal to make steel don't we?

No. Using coking coal is just one way to produce steel. Two of the four large steel manufacturers in the UK (Liberty Steel and Celsa) use electric arc furnaces to recycle scrap steel into new steel. This doesn't use coking coal. Direct Reduction Iron, another way to make steel, doesn't rely on coal to reduce the iron, although sometimes it does use it.vi

Most of the big steel makers are investing and innovating so that they can decarbonise the steel sector. There aren't big UK projects doing this at the moment. The HYBRIT project in Sweden is expecting to be making commercial-scale steel by 2026.vii Various methods are being worked on, including those looking to use hydrogen and those which propose using unsustainable fuels like fossil gas to reduce iron until green hydrogen (where the energy comes from renewable electricity) is available. The Climate Change Committee has said, “Government should set targets for ore-based steelmaking ... in the UK to reach near-zero emissions by 2035”. When this happens the UK won't be using any coking coal by 2035, 14 years before this mine is due to stop production.viii

Onland infrastructure of the proposed mine, the majority of the extraction site is below the sea

What's the process so far?

Cumbria County Council have approved the application for a deep coal mine twice, although the councillors showed that they didn't fully understand the climate change implications. Amendments were made to the first application due to a successful Judicial Review. The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Robert Jenrick, said that if the Council was intending to approve the application he would consider calling it in and making the decision himself. He has since decided not to intervene.

Why does this decision matter?

Steel making using coal is an emissions intensive industry. This is worsening the impacts of climate change and increasing the negative impacts across communities globally as well as biodiversity collapse. The UK is hosting the COP26 climate change summit in November of this year. The government is pushing the Powering Past Coal Alliance and wants to be seen as active on action on climate change issues. Approving a new coal mine goes against this. Failure to intervene in this matter sends a signal to other governments that it’s acceptable to call yourself a ‘leader’ on climate change whilst continuing climate-wrecking practices. Following Robert Jenrick's decision, the Climate Change Committee wrote to him asking him to outlining the climate and international political issues of his decision.ix

What can we do to stop this application?

There are a number of groups who are working to ensure that this mine does not get the full go-ahead. Permission is still needed for the section of the mine under the sea from the Marine Management Organisation and from the Coal Authority.

 

References

iEmber, Coal Free Kingdom (13th November 2019) https://ember-climate.org/project/coal-free-kingdom/ and Drax Group, Enabling a zero carbon, lower cost energy future page 39 (2019) https://www.drax.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Drax_AR2019_Web.pdf

iiCumbria County Council Executive Director - Economy and Infrastructure, Development control and regulation committee Application Reference No:4/17/90077.17 (2 October 2020) point 7.107 page 35

iiiCumbria County Council Executive Director - Economy and Infrastructure, Development control and regulation committee Application Reference No:4/17/90077.17(2 October 2020) point 7.130 page 38

iv0.36 million tonnes out of 2.78 million tonnes produced annually Cumbria County Council Executive Director - Economy and Infrastructure, Development control and regulation committee Application Reference No:4/17/90077.17 (2 October 2020) point 7.17 page 20

vCumbria County Council Executive Director - Economy and Infrastructure, Development control and regulation committee Application Reference No:4/17/90077.17 (2 October 2020) multiple points page 32

viInternational Iron Metallics Association, DRI production, viewed 1 February 2021, https://www.metallics.org/dri-production.html

viiBloomberg Green, Sweden Moves Closer to Making Fossil-Fuel-Free Steel (31 August 2020)

https://www.bloombergquint.com/business/sweden-advances-on-road-to-fossil-free-steel-with-three-way-jv

viiiClimate Change Committee, Policies for the Sixth Carbon Budget and Net Zero (December 2020) https://www.theccc.org.uk/publication/sixth-carbon-budget/page 96, table 4.1

ixCImate Change Committee, Letter: Deep Coal Mining in the UK (29th January 2020) https://www.theccc.org.uk/publication/letter-deep-coal-mining-in-the-uk/

Disappointment as Government allows underground coking coal mine application to go ahead

We're disappointed to let you know that on the 6th January 2020, the Secretary of State for Housing Communities and Local Government, Robert Jenrick said that the government will not step in and review Cumbria County Council's decision to approve the Woodhouse Colliery Application.

West Cumbria Mining want to extract nearly 3 million tonnes of coking coal for export to Europe every year until 2049 from a site next to the coast at Whitehaven, Cumbria. In October 2020 Cumbria Council approved the amended application by West Cumbria Mining. Robert Jenrick has said in advance of the hearing, that if this were the decision he would consider 'calling it in' and deciding the application himself.

Campaign Group, South Lakes Action on Climate Change, towards transitions said in a statement, "The Secretary of State has decided NOT to "call in" the planning application! We are extremely disappointed (but not surprised) that Robert Jenrick is insisting that West Cumbria Mining's plan to extract nearly 3 million tonnes of coal a year is not considered to be of national importance, and can be simply a local decision. Even though Cumbria County Council restricted the permission to the end of 2049, rather than 2070 [as WCM had applied for] this is still an outrageous decision that flies in the face of the UK's promises to address climate change and their claim to leadership through this year's COP 26.

Very little of this coal will be suitable for the UK steel industry, and it will be exported with no enforceable control on where or how it is used. It will give rise to around 9 million tonnes of CO2e emissions annually for the next 30 years, and is likely to undermine both the decarbonisation of the steel industry and also the emerging pledges to reduce emissions.

However this is not the end of the struggle. Even before County Council issues the Decision Notice, SLACC's legal team at Richard Buxtons Solicitors will be assessing the options for taking further legal action." If you'd like to help SLACC's continued action against this application, could you donate to, or share their crowdfunder https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/westcumbriamineslacc/

At the October planning hearing it was clear that several of the Cumbria County Councillor's did not fully understand the climate change impacts of the proposal. Nor did they understand the submission from Professor Paul Ekins showing that extracting coking coal in the UK increases the amount of coal consumed, as it will be used in addition to that imported to Europe from abroad.

This is a missed opportunity for the UK government to show a commitment to tackling climate change and to place their faith in steel companies converting to use existing and developing ways to produce steel without coal. There are various ways being investigated to further this campaign against the mine. Sign up to our email list to be part of it.

Local campaigners save Dewley Hill from Banks Group's opencast plan

451 Newcastle residents write to their councillors

Newcastle residents write to their councillors

Last week 451 Newcastle residents wrote to thee councillors representing the part of Newcastle in which they live. They asked that the planning committee reject Banks Group's application to extract coal by opencast at Dewley Hill on the western outskirts of the city. A copy of the letter addressed to all councillors together is below.

The planning hearing will take place on Friday the 18th December. For details see this page.

Re. Application to mine coal and fire clay at Dewley Hill, Application Number 2019/0300/01/DET

The letter

Dear Newcastle Councillors,

We, the undersigned are writing to you, our local representatives, to explain our objection to a planning application to extract coal and fireclay by opencast from Dewley Hill, North of Throckley.

Banks Group and Ibstock brick seeks to extract 800,000 tonnes of coal and 400,000 tonnes of fireclay from 112 hectares of Newcastle's greenbelt at Dewley Hill, which sits to the North of the A69 near Throckley. Here is a video (https://vimeo.com/455806042) where local residents explain why this land is so important to them, and what it would mean to have an opencast here.

Many of us have already written to the planning department, joining over an estimated 5,000 individual objections, and over 18,950 petition signatories in asking for this application to be rejected. In September 2020, the Secretary of State for Housing Communities and Local Government, Robert Jenrick, rejected an application by the same company to extract 2.765 million tonnes of coal by opencast, from Highthorn just inland of Druridge Bay.

Implications from the rejection of Highthorn opencast

The decision to reject the application at Highthorn is significant as the main grounds for rejection also apply to this application. The Highthorn application failed to meet the National Planning Policy Framework, paragraph 211. The application to opencast at Dewley Hill doesn't meet this framework either.

“211. Planning permission should not be granted for the extraction of coal unless:

a) the proposal is environmentally acceptable, or can be made so by planning conditions or obligations; or
b) if it is not environmentally acceptable, then it provides national, local or community benefits which clearly outweigh its likely impacts (taking all relevant matters into account, including any residual environmental impacts).”

A new opencast coal mine on greenbelt of Newcastle is not environmentally acceptable, would harm local wildlife, pollute the Ouse and Dewley Burns and, in combination with the air pollution from the A69, would negatively impact our health.

At Highthorn, Banks Group failed to show that there was sufficient need for coal for industry and the Secretary of State felt that Banks Group's assertion of ongoing non-power station demand was overstated. The same applies here. The Digest of United Kingdom Energy Statistics 2020 says that in 2019 of all coal types demand was “down by 36 per cent compared to 2018.”1

Banks claim that coal from the Dewley Hill site would be used by industry, yet fails to declare its industrial customers buying coal from its other opencast mines. Tata Steel is investigating alternative ways to produce steel than using coal, so its non-binding support does not demonstrate a market for the coal. Therefore, the preconceived national, local or community benefits do not outweigh the harm.2

In July, Durham County Councillors rejected Banks Group's application to extend the Bradley opencast coal mine contrary to the Planning Officer's recommendation. The Councillors were concerned that increased coal availability would reduce the drive to low carbon steel production.

Increased coal supply increases coal use

If the application to extract coal at Dewley Hill were to be approved, it would result in additional coal available for consumption. Extracting coal from a new site would not substitute for coal mined elsewhere, it would add to it.3 Overall there would be an increase in greenhouse gas emissions. The reality is that the vast majority of greenhouse gases released from the full lifecycle of coal come from the final use of the coal. Emissions from transport is a minor consideration.

At present Banks Group is not extracting coal anywhere. The four operational opencast coal mines in the UK will soon close or have an uncertain future. There are no other proposals to open new opencast coal mines in the UK, there simply isn't the demand for UK coal.

The Government has committed to reducing carbon emissions to zero by 2050, to reach this heavy industry must decarbonise fast. Supplying additional coal to the market delays and stunts investment in low carbon technologies. The biggest single emitter of carbon dioxide in the UK is Tata Steel's Port Talbot steelworks,4 which is looking to convert to recycle scrap steel5 leaving just one company making steel using coal, this demonstrates industry desire to move away from coal.

Planning policies

In addition to paragraph 211 of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) the following policies also need to be considered which this application contravenes:

Paragraph 11d of the NPPF as the adverse impacts of granting planning permission would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits specifically in respect of adverse landscape, visual and residential amenity impacts.

Policy DM32 point 1 of the Newcastle Development and Allocations plan (DAP) states that mineral operations will only be supported where it would be demonstrated that 16 considerations are mitigated against. Importantly this includes landscape character, air quality; surface and groundwater and drainage; and climate change, all of which are not properly mitigated against in this application. Applications on this site in 1990 and 1996 were turned down for these very reasons, including that it encroached on natural space and greenbelt land.

The proposed site lies in the Newcastle Green belt. As such policy CS19 of the Core Strategy and Urban Core Plan needs to be complied with. In the Development and Allocations plan, the land where the proposed application sits is allocated as Wildlife Enhancement Corridors and as such policies CS1 and CS19 must be considered.6

Finally, with the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic many people are spending far more time at home and are really appreciating outdoor access, which needs to be protected. This application offers nothing to the community. We need our green space now, as well as in the future.

Please join us in speaking out against this mine and discussing it with the Councillors on the planning committee.

Yours sincerely,

 

451 local residents whose names and postcodes were provided to the council

Confirmed: Newcastle City Council set to decide fate of proposed new opencast coal mine at Dewley Hill

Stop press: the Council’s own Planning Officer’s report recommends rejecting the opencast coal mine as it “would not be environmentally acceptable”

On the 18th December 2020, Newcastle City Council decides whether to protect 250 acres of greenbelt land or allow a controversial opencast coal mine on the north-eastern edge of Newcastle in an online hearing. Banks Group applied in 2019 for a new opencast mine to extract 800,000 tonnes of thermal coal. 451 residents of Newcastle have since signed letters to their Councillors asking them to vote against this application. The Council’s own Planning Officer’s report concludes the proposed coal mine “would not be environmentally acceptable”, recommending councillors to reject the application as well.

Professor Paul Ekins O.B.E., a leading resource enconomist at UCL Institute of Sustainable Resources,

What would the impacts be on the local environment and communities?

The local Defend Dewley Hill campaign, has fought the proposed opencast mine since 2019 when Banks Group proposed to swallow 250 acres of Newcastle’s green belt land. Waterways, mature trees, hedgerows, wildlife, top soil, and public rights of way would be torn up if this destructive open cast mine were permitted.

Northumberland Wildlife Trust is concerned that an opencast mine would harm farmland birds such as skylark, lapwing, and yellowhammer, with the Chief Executive stating “We are totally against coal extraction as a trust”. There may also be risk to Dewley and Ouse burns (waterways) that supply Newcastle residents’ water from the open cast mine. The coal that would be extracted from this open cast mine is intended either to burned in power stations or to industry, in the UK or abroad. If used in the UK, the coal extracted could endanger the Government’s commitment to have net zero emissions by 2050.

Jude Campbell from Defend Dewley Hill said, “This application offers no benefit to the local community. Banks Group claims the opencast coal mine would create 50 new jobs at Dewley Hill but these are not new jobs for local people, simply continued employment for their existing workforce. As a former union rep the prospect of redundancy for Banks employees does not sit easily with me. However, Banks are promoting an unsustainable business model in a declining industry and it is grossly irresponsible to promise these workers employment in this industry ad infinitum when coal is on the way out in favour of green technologies. Banks Group have their own renewables division, they should be taking advantage of green technology grants whilst retaining and retraining employees.”

Whether the coal is used in the UK or abroad, and whether it is used in power stations or other industries, Professor Paul Ekins O.B.E., a leading resource enconomist at UCL Institute of Sustainable Resources, explains in a letter to Newcastle Council, “an increase in the supply of a commodity such as coal will reduce the price of the commodity, leading to increased demand, and therefore increased emissions”, and discourage industries investing in greener alternatives.

You can virtually attend the planning committee hearing, which starts at 0930 Friday 18.12.20 via www.youtube.com/watch?v=MiXPxStycTQ&feature=youtu.be