Friends of the Earth want the new government to ban opencast mining

14th May 2015 Friends of the Earth has just published a list of 10 priorities for the new Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change Secretary, Amber Rudd. Number 9 concerns coal:

“…9     Phase-out coal: Coal is the dirtiest fossil fuel. We strongly support the Prime Minister’s pledge to phase-out coal power. It needs to happen by 2023 at the latest. But to get a phase-out means tougher policy from DECC. This should be linked with a ban on open-cast coal mining – a blight on local communities…..”

Now 19th May they’ve extended that argument here:

“This February, David Cameron promised publicly to “end the use of unabated coal for power generation.” This would be an historic move – and it’s absolutely right that Britain, having pioneered the use of coal in the industrial revolution, be the first to move on from this outdated and dirty technology. The Committee on Climate Change recommends that to meet climate targets, old coal is taken off the system by the early 2020s, whilst the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s modelling shows 90% of coal plants shutting by 2023.

“Ending our reliance on old coal should also mean finally ending the devastating practice of opencast coal mining – an extraction method that wrecks landscapes and damages the health of communities in some of the poorest parts of the country. Extraordinarily, the UK dug up 8 million tonnes of coal from opencast mines last year – and coal production has actually been increasing in England and Wales for the past decade.

“In Merthyr Tydfil in South Wales, where a vast coal pit already looms over the town, a crucial decision nears on June 24th – whether to give permission for yet another massive opencast mine at Nant Llesg. The Welsh Government must call this decision in and heed the call of Welsh Assembly Members who recently voted for a moratorium on opencast coal. If they fail to, it’s vital that the climate movement gives its support to the community in Merthyr – a cause that last drew activists’ attention in 2007-9 but has since unforgivably fallen off the radar.”

LAON’s Steve Leary has been invited to help lead two workshops at this year’s annual FOE ‘Base Camp’ get together (Castleton, Derbyshire 12-14 June, 2015). The two workshops he will be participating in are entitled ‘Site Battles and Climate Change’ and ‘Building a Movement Against Fossil Fuel Extraction’. Steve says: ‘This is a great opportunity to explain what LAON is about, build bridges and for us to move forwards in our attempts to contribute to both preventing climate change and protecting communities from the scourge of opencast mining.’