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Campaigners lose legal challenge over coal mine expansion

19 May 2023 3 minute read
Aberpergwm coal mine. Photo via Google

Campaigners who have lost a legal challenge aimed at halting the extraction of 40 million tonnes of coal from a mine in Neath Port Talbot says they are “carefully considering” appealing the decision.

Coal Action Network had challenged the Welsh Government’s refusal to stop the 16 year extension of mining at the Aberpergwm coal mine and the Coal Authority’s refusal to weigh the climate crisis when making its coal licencing decision.

Last year, the Coal Authority and UK Government Ministers agreed that the Welsh Government could decide the fate of the application to extend the mine under the Wales Act 2017, but the Welsh Government disagreed because the original licence dated back to 1996, and refused to make a decision.

“We’re speaking with our legal team, and are carefully considering appealing this decision,” Daniel Therkelsen from Coal Action Network said.

“It’s unconscionable to permit the Aberpergwm coal mine to operate for the next 16 years, pumping out over 100 million tonnes of CO2 and over a million tonnes of methane.

“The ability for Wales to decide its own future is exactly what the Wales Act 2017 was brought in to do, and we want to see it used to create a more sustainable Wales that supports future generations.

“The Welsh Government has strong policies against coal, but it repeatedly fails to put them into action – whether that’s at Aberpergwm or allowing the ongoing illegal coal mining at Ffos-y-fran, Merthyr Tydfil.

“We think the Judge got it wrong, but the finding that the Coal Authority cannot consider climate change impacts when it licences new coal mining should bolster support for the House of Lords’ Energy Bill amendment to block new coal licences, and we will work to get that passed.”

Climate change

Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds MS described the ruling as disappointing and “a blow for the fight against climate change.”

“If we are to tackle the climate emergency coal needs to stay in the ground,” she added.

“Just this week the World Meteorological Organisation warned we are now likely to breach a 1.5°c rise by 2027.

“We cannot afford to extract 40 million more tonnes of coal.”

“I will continue to use my voice to call on the Welsh and UK governments to step in and block this expansion. Our future generations depend on it.”

Aberpergwm mine employs over 180 people and is the only producer of high-grade anthracite in western Europe and supplies the nearby Tata Steel plant in Port Talbot.

Energybuild, the company which own the mine, welcomed the decision and said:  “We are fully committed to working with both the local authority and the Senedd to transform our operation to a carbon neutral undertaking.”

The Welsh government said it would continue to consider what practical implications Friday’s ruling may have for the colliery.

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Julie Jones
Julie Jones
1 year ago

Great news for the miners and the wider Neath Port Talbot community. Let us protect our workers. Don’t export jobs.

Neil Anderson
Neil Anderson
1 year ago

This is not about legality. It is about stupidity.

Of course, workers must be protected. But the work involved in destroying the earth does not deserve recompense.

Peter Cuthbert
Peter Cuthbert
1 year ago
Reply to  Neil Anderson

We certainly need to give up on coal and do so in a way that is fair and reasonable. There needs to be a programme to take on the workforce, maintain their wages and then find them alternative employment. It is not rocket science but does not fit with the Market Fundamentalist mindset so Westminster would hate to fund it.

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