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Brokenshire is pressed to reject Northumberland coal mine

Words: Laura Edgar
Druridge Bay / iStock_56002684_LARGE

Communities secretary James Brokenshire has been urged to reject planning permission for an opencast coal mine at Druridge Bay because the UK has enough coal.

Northumberland County Council approved the proposals, from Banks Mining, in July 2016.

The coal mine was originally recommended for approval by a planning inspector in November 2017, but former communities secretary Sajid Javid overruled this recommendation in March 2018. His decision was in turn overruled in the High Court in November 2018, and Brokenshire is now considering it.

The plea to reject the plans comes from campaigners at Friends of the Earth (FoE). The group says UK power stations already have enough stockpiled coal to last until 2025, which is when coal-fired generation is due to end.

The government's latest projections estimate that 2.17 terawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity will be generated from coal between 2020 and 2025, which is 95 per cent lower than the projection of 48.73 TWh made for the same period in the previous set of projections.

FoE campaigners highlight that if electricity generation from coal in 2019 (projected at 2.03 TWh) is included, total generation from the start of this year to 2025 is 4.2 TWh.

Generating 1 TWh of electricity uses about 400,000 tonnes of coal, so generating 4.2 TWh of electricity will require approximately 1.68 million tonnes of coal.

Other government figures suggest that total coal stocks at the end of 2018 were 5.2 million tonnes, 4.1 million tonnes of which is held at power stations. Friends of the Earth say this is “clearly substantially” more than will be needed to generate the estimated electricity from coal to 2025.

Further to this, last week, Britain went a week without using coal to generate electricity for the first time since 1882.

Friends of the Earth fossil-free campaigner Tony Bosworth said: “Power stations already have enough stockpiled coal to last until they close down in 2025, so giving new climate-wrecking coal mines the green light would be ludicrous.

“James Brokenshire must reject the Druridge Bay planning application and protect this wildlife-rich beauty spot from devastation.

“With the world facing a climate emergency, it’s time to consign coal to the history books and build a cleaner, safer future based on energy efficiency and the UK’s vast renewable power potential.”

Read more:

Council supports opencast mine in north-east England

Javid calls in Druridge Bay opencast mine approval

Appeal: Javid blocks controversial coal mine on environmental grounds

Image credit | iStock