Representatives of fifty groups from twenty-two countries who are opposing coal mining and working for climate justice have signed an open letter against UK opencast coal mining. The letter, addressed to the Planning Inspectorate and Derbyshire County Council, asks for two opencast coal mine applications to be refused, as “English law enables applications to be refused on the basis that it is not in the local, national or international interest to approve development, as is the situation in these cases.”
Many of the letter’s signatories are from nations in the Global South. They know all too well the impacts of mining coal as they are living in the shadow of coal extraction. Additionally support for the letter includes Russia, Colombia and the USA, that combined provided 91% of the coal imported to the UK in 2014 .
Standing in solidarity with the UK communities who would be impacted the signatories state, “We are members of communities suffering as a direct result of opencast coal mining and related infrastructure or from countries most at risk from climate change, or of organisations working in solidarity with those affected. We would not wish on anyone else what we have had to put up with ourselves.”
The letter comes as the Planning Inspectorate prepares to hear the appeal for the application at Field House, West Rainton, County Durham, a process due to start on the 29th September 2015. This application to mine 500,000 tonnes of coal using opencast methods, was refused in June 2014. The coal company concerned, Hargreaves, operates six mines in Scotland, but has reduced coal output  and the number of employees there  in the last year as the price of coal has plummeted on the world market. The local community have formed 'Stop the Opencast in Pittington and West Rainton', in opposition to the application.
The second application opposed by the letter's signatories is waiting to be heard by Derbyshire County Council, for a site named Hilltop. The date has yet to be set. The coal company involved here, Provectus, wants to mine 175,000 tonnes of coal from a site in Derbyshire which is within 200 metres of 500 houses. There is a strong local campaign, led by the Hilltop Action Group, fighting this application.
Co-ordinated by London Mining Network, Coal Action Network, The Gaia Foundation and the Yes to Life, No to Mining Network the letter highlights that coal mining is an international issue and decisions made in the UK have far reaching consequences.
“By international standards neither of these coal mines is large, but every one impacts on our way of life. 82% of all known coal reserves need to stay in the ground to stay within a 2 degree global temperature rise .” say the letter’s signatories.
A self styled leader on climate change, the United Kingdom has come under intense criticism in recent weeks and months for abandoning its commitments to renewable energy and instead supporting fossil fuels such as coal . The effects of generating electricity by burning coal are not just limited to carbon dioxide emissions. Communities living close to the points of coal extraction suffer from the dust, pollution, increase traffic, loss of land and biodiversity and lack of consultation whether the mines are in the UK or abroad.
The full letter can be seen here http://coalaction.org.uk/openletter/
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For more information contact:
Anne Harris, Coal Action Network, 07876532846
Notes to editor
London Mining Network works in support of communities around the world who are badly affected by mining – mining by companies based in, or financed from, London. It is a member of the European Stop Mad Mining Project. http://londonminingnetwork.org/
Coal Action Network supports communities fighting opencast mine applications and coal infrastructure in the UK and highlights the issues surrounding all mines supplying coal to UK power stations. http://coalaction.org.uk/
Yes to Life, No to Mining is a global solidarity network of and for community groups, individuals, organisations and networks who wish to say No to mining out of concern for the well being of our planet, livelihoods, cultures and future generations. www.yestolifenotomining.org
The Gaia Foundation supports indigenous and traditional communities around the world to revive their cultures, restore biocultural diversity, and supports oppose unwanted and destructive ‘development’ such as mining. www.gaiafoundation.org/
 DECC, (2015) Digest of UK Energy Statistics, Solid Fuels and Derived Gases, P41. London: TSO https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/437767/Solid_Fuels_and_Derived_Gases.pdf viewed 09/08/15
 Fraser, D (17/02/15) Hargreaves Services cuts coal mine output in half
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-business-31506312 viewed 22/09/15
 Hargreaves are the biggest coal miner in Scotland. In the second quarter of 2014 there was a peak of 802 employees working in coal mining in Scotland. In the second quarter of 2015 this had fallen to a peak of 618. [The Coal Authority, Production and Manpower returns for the three month period April 2015 to June 2015 and The Coal Authority, Production and Manpower returns for the three month period April 2014 to June 2014]
 The Guardian, Leave fossil fuels buried to prevent climate change, study urges (07/01/15)
www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jan/07/much-worlds-fossil-fuel-reserve-must-stay-buried-prevent-climate-change-study-says viewed 27/08/15
 UK risks missing its carbon targets, climate advisers warn http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/sep/22/uk-risks-missing-its-carbon-targets-climate-advisers-warn viewed 23/09/2015