Druridge Bay: UK power stations already have enough coal, new figures reveal

No need for Northumberland opencast coal mine, says Friends of the Earth
  Published:  14 May 2019    |      4 minute read

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

The opencast coal mine, which would devastate a beauty spot at Druridge Bay, was originally recommended for approval by a planning inspector in November 2017, on the basis that there was a ‘window’ for using the coal for power generation before 2025.

The application was refused by Mr Brokenshire’s predecessor Sajid Javid in March 2018, due to the mines’ substantial impact on climate change – but this was over-ruled in November by the High Court. The application is now being considered by Mr Brokenshire.

However, new government projections, published in April this year, show that the forecast amount of electricity the UK will generate from coal between 2020 and 2025 has fallen by over 90% since the previous year’s figures – and there is now more than enough coal in stock at power stations to generate this electricity.

Friends of the Earth is now calling on James Brokenshire to reject the planning application for the Druridge Bay open cast coal mine - and to revoke planning permission for an opencast coal mine at Bradley in County Durham.

Last week it was revealed that Britain has just gone a week without using coal to generate electricity for the first time since 1882.

A Friends of the Earth online petition urging the government to reject the Druridge Bay mine application has been signed by over 25,000 people.

Friends of the Earth fossil free campaigner Tony Bosworth said:

“Power stations already have enough stock-piled 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.”

ENDS

Editor’s notes:

1. Background briefing - UK coal and Druridge Bay:

2. Despite having only 12 years to prevent runaway climate change, plans for an opencast coal mine at Druridge Bay continue to cast a shadow over the Northumberland coast. If it goes ahead, millions of tonnes of coal would be extracted and burned. This would be a disaster for the climate and the local community.

3. Operations started at the opencast mine at Bradley in Durham last summer, after James Brokenshire rejected calls to revoke planning permission. However, Mr Brokenshire did not adequately explain his decision, and is re-making the decision in response to a judicial review brought by residents. The Bradley site is operated by Banks Group, the company behind the Druridge Bay proposal. It is opposed by locally-lead Campaign to Protect Pont Valley supported by Coal Action Network.

4. Banks Mining, who want to develop the Druridge Bay opencast site, originally intended the coal to be used for power generation, but the firm now suggests it could be used for industrial purposes as well. However, the Inspector at the public inquiry into the Druridge mine, who recommended that planning permission be granted (a recommendation reversed by Sajid Javid) did so on the basis that there was a ‘window’ for using the coal for power generation before 2025. If this was not the case, then the Inspector said that there would be a strong case for refusal of planning permission.

5. The UK is well on the way to ending coal-use for power generation. Those industries that continue to use coal in their manufacturing processes, such as steel and cement, must make the shift to cleaner energy a top priority. The Committee on Climate Change said last week that “deeper decarbonisation of industries like steel and cement will be needed in the UK to achieve net-zero emissions.

6. Britain passes one week without coal power for first time since 1882.