‘Say no to more coal’: Welsh Lib Dems welcome judicial review into coal mine expansion plans
The Welsh Liberal Democrats have welcomed news that a judicial review will be held into the expansion of the Aberpergwm coal mine.
The review was approved yesterday following a request by the Coal Action Network, which campaigns against coal extraction and its use in power generation and steel production.
In January the colliery was given permission to mine a further 40 million tonnes of coal despite opposition from the Welsh Government.
The mine is the only producer of high-grade anthracite in Western Europe – which has the highest carbon content of any coal – and supplies the nearby Tata Steel plant in Port Talbot.
Deputy Climate Change Minister Lee Waters has previously said the Welsh Government were opposed to the expansion but the UK Government, which oversees the Coal Authority which is responsible for licensing mines, decided not to intervene.
“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.,” he told the Senedd in November 2021.
In February, the Coal Authority insisted that the mining licence could have been blocked by the Welsh Government under the Wales Act 2017 but this was refuted by the government on the basis of its legal advice.
Following the announcement of the judicial review on Friday, Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds MS said: “Labour ministers must now make it crystal clear whether or not it would stop the expansion of Aberpergwm should they find Welsh Government is responsible.
“Labour has dithered on the expansion of Aberpergwm and they must come clean.
“The Welsh Liberal Democrats urge the Welsh Labour Government, for the sake of our planet and future generations, to say no to more coal.
“The expansion of this mine must be stopped. While some will point to the jobs it creates, communities near Aberpergwm should instead be given a leading role in the development of the green hydrogen strategy being developed in South Wales, ensuring a just transition and jobs for the communities that will last long into the future rather than a decade at most.”
Energybuild, the company which operates the mine, told BusinessLive Wales in March it will continue to supply Tata Steel in Port Talbot under the direction of the Welsh Government, as it tries to move away from fossil fuel hydrocarbon production.
Planning permission for expansion of the mine was originally granted in September 2018 by Neath Port Talbot Council.
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