LAON PR 2013 – 21 3/1/13
THE POOR STATE OF THE UK COAL INDUSTRY, AND THE RISK FACED BY PLANNING AUTHORITIES.
The fire at Daw Mill has focused some attention on the state of the UK Coal Industry, with a Reuter’s article ‘Pit blaze could be dying embers for Britain’s coal mines’. In it, the following comments are made:
“EU laws will come into force in 2016 that will require coal-fired power stations to slash emissions of soot and other harmful pollutants, meaning many older plants will close rather than paying the hundreds of millions required to clean up.
Government forecasts suggest the amount of coal burnt in Britain's power stations will fall sharply after 2016, to around 28 million tonnes from 58 million tonnes in 2012.
That figure is expected to dwindle further to just 13 million tonnes by the end of the decade as more coal-fired power stations close while costs are expected to rise.
"Doubts about demand for coal in the decades ahead are causing finance to dry up for the domestic coal industry in the short-term because investors are less sure as to whether they will get their money back (over the long-term)," said David Brewer of CoalPro, the main lobby for Britain's coal industry.
Although almost every tonne of coal produced in Britain is burnt in the country's power stations, and domestic miners have negotiated long-term contracts with utilities, in future domestic producers will have to compete with high volumes of imports for a smaller slice of the pie.
"Although buyers will still value the security of supply and lower transport costs offered by UK coal, imports can offer greater flexibility in terms of quality (such as levels of sulphur, ash content and energy value)," one trader with a British utility said.”
If that was not enough of a problem facing the UK Coal Industry, evidence is emerging that by 2015, China, which for the last few years has been a major net importer of coal, thus maintaining relatively high world coal prices, may begin to be an exporter of coal according to a Bloomberg article ‘European 2014 Coal declines to Record as China Demand may Drop’ (Bloomberg, 1/3/13):
“China’s push to improve air quality may mean it reduces coal consumption for power, changes transport policies and boosts clean energy investment, Michael Hsueh, a Deutsche Bank analyst in London, said in an e-mailed note. That may cut coal imports to 52 million metric tons in 2014 from 174 million tons last year. China may export a net 43 million tons in 2015.”
In addition to this, the Telegraph has drawn attention a court case beginning on Thursday this week, which will highlight how dangerous it is to burn coal in the UK’s power stations,(‘Its’ the EU against the Government in day of judgement for air pollution’ (Telegraph, 1/3/13). One of the pollutants produced by burning coal is Nitrogen Dioxide, a gas implicated in contributing to the premature death of 29,000 people a year in the UK according to evidence to be produced in the High Court as ClientEarth begins its Appeal Case over whether the UK Government is avoiding its legal responsibility under E.U. law to improve the quality of the air we breathe.
Meanwhile, Planning Authorities in England, Scotland and Wales face the prospect of having to decide on giving permission on whether millions of tonnes of coal should be allowed to be surfaced mined for many years into the future. Today, the Loose Anti Opencast Network publishes its monthly review on opencast mine proposals. It identifies that there are 32 such sites in the offing across the UK. The situation in England, which tops the list with 13 sites, is explored in more detail with the publication of the first English Review of Opencast sites here:
The risk these authorities face is that these new sites will eventually produce surplus coal that is no longer needed by UK power generators, leaving coal producers with no domestic market for their coal. Under such circumstances, sites might be mothballed as has already happened at the Blair House site in Scotland.
Yet on the 12th March, the last opportunity occurs to alter proposed legislation as the final debate takes place on the Growth and Infrastructure Bill, Clause 24, which most commentators argue, would make it easier to dig up the coal. This is the continuation of the Report Stage Debate in The House of Lords on this Bill. To prevent this change of rules over whether the mining of coal should be made easier, write to the Minister responsible for conducting the debate in the House of Lords, expressing your opposition to this clause by writing to: Baroness Hanham, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government at the Department of Communities and Local Government, Eland House, Bressenden Place, London SW1E 5DU, or email Baroness Hanham @ firstname.lastname@example.org
The Loose Anti-Opencast Network (LAON) has been in existence since 2009. It functions as a medium through which to oppose open cast mine applications. At present LAON links individuals and groups in N IRELAND (Just Say No to Lignite), SCOTLAND (Coal Action Scotland) and Saline Parish Hub). WALES (Green Valleys Alliance, The Merthyr Tydfil Anti Opencast Campaign and Llwdgoed Action). ENGLAND (Coal Action Network), Northumberland, (Whittonstall Action Group and North Pennine Protection Group ) Co Durham (Pont Valley Network), Leeds, Sheffield (Cowley Residents Action Group, Pittington Residents), Kirklees, (Skelmansthorpe Action Group) Nottinghamshire (Shortwood Farm Opencast Opposition), Derbyshire (West Hallum Environment Group, Smalley Action Group and Hilltop Action Group) , Leicestershire (Minorca Opencast Protest Group), (Staffordshire, Campaign Against Great Oak Opencast) ,Wakefield: Stop Opencast at Sharlston, and Walsall (Alumwell Action Group).
Steve Leary LAON’Ss Co-ordinator, at email@example.com
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