Better to get fossil fuels ‘from our own green and pleasant land’ says Jacob Rees-Mogg after Welsh coal mine expansion
Jacob Rees-Mogg has defended the expansion of a colliery in Wales, saying that it is better to mine coal “from our own green and pleasant land” than bring it in from abroad.
Yesterday the Aberpergwm colliery was given permission to mine a further 40 million tonnes of coal.
The Welsh Government had accused the UK Government of ignoring its wishes on the permit for the mine. Deputy Climate Change Minister Lee Waters has previously said that they were opposed to the UK Government on the matter.
The UK government, which oversees the Coal Authority which is responsible for licensing mines, decided however not to intervene.
Leader of the House Jacob Rees-Mogg was challenged on the issue in the House of Commons today by Green Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas. But he replied that he supported the extraction of the coal.
“Net zero is by 2050. We are not at 2050 yet,” he said. “We are going to need to have fossil fuels for the interim period and we are going to need coal for things like heritage railways and so on.
“Therefore, it is perfectly reasonable that we take some coal out of the ground. I cannot see why it is better to import it from abroad, rather than to get it from our own green and pleasant land.”
‘Do not support’
Caroline Lucas had earlier said that the UK Government appeared to have “abdicated responsibility for the decision”.
“Real climate leaders do not issue new fossil fuel licences, nor do they pass the buck if someone else is trying to do that on their watch,” she said.
She called for any correspondence with the UK Government on the matter to be published, and for a debate in Government time “on the importance of leaving new fossil fuels in the ground, as the science demands”.
Speaking to the Senedd in November, Deputy Climate Minister Lee Waters said that the Welsh Government did not have the powers to stop the colliery’s expansion.
“We want to keep this coal in the ground, but the UK Government, because of the powers in place, threaten to sit by and watch this coal being extracted in the face of our wishes.”
The Welsh government said: “We have been clear that we do not support the extraction of fossil fuels and are focused on the climate emergency.
“As the original licence was issued before powers in relation to coal licences were devolved, Welsh ministers are not able to intervene in the licensing process and appropriately apply Welsh policy.”
Energybuild, the company that will extract the coal, said it provided 160 well-paid jobs in the area, plus 16 apprenticeships.
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