‘We already have enough coal’

Communities Secretary James Brokenshire is being urged by Friends of the Earth to reject planning permission for an opencast coal mine in Northumberland as it claims that UK power stations already have enough stock-piled coal to last until 2025 – when coal-fired power generation is due to end.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 24 May, 2019, 07:00
A section of the proposed Highthorn opencast mine site near Widdrington and Druridge Bay.

Banks Mining last year successfully lodged a High Court challenge to the former Secretary of State Sajid Javid’s decision to reject its planning application for a surface mine near Druridge Bay despite a government-appointed inspector recommending that the scheme should go ahead.

After the ruling, the bid was returned to the desk of Mr Javid’s successor, Mr Brokenshire, for further consideration.

A Friends of the Earth spokesman said: “New government projections, published last month, show that the forecast amount of electricity the UK will generate from coal between 2020 and 2025 has fallen by over 90 per cent since the previous year’s figures – and there is now more than enough coal in stock at power stations to generate this electricity.”

Mark Dowdall, environment and community director at The Banks Group, said in response: “The undeniable fact remains that the UK still needs coal for a range of other essential industrial uses, such as steel, cement and food production and heritage railways, and an increasing shortfall in domestic supply has meant that this need has had to increasingly be met through coal imports from distant locations such as the US, Colombia and, most especially, Russia.

“We can both mine and transport the coal from our surface mines in North East England to industrial customers in the UK with significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions than are released from just transporting these coal imports over thousands of miles.”