UK Government ‘riding roughshod’ over devolution by not vetoing Welsh coal mine expansion
The UK Government have been accused of “riding roughshod over devolution” by failing to veto the expansion of a coal mine in the Neath Valley.
The Coal Authority is expected to decide soon whether the conditions have been met to allow work to begin at the Aberpergwm Coal Mine in the Neath Valley.
The Welsh Government has accused the UK Government of ignoring its wishes on the permit for the mine, which would see the company Energybuild Ltd dig up 7.3m tonnes of anthracite coal, which has the highest carbon content.
Deputy Climate Change Minister Lee Waters has previously said that they were opposed to the UK Government on the matter but the decision was out of their hands.
“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.
Today the Liberal Democrats also called for the UK Government to veto the plans, saying that it would be an affront to devolution not to do so.
Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds MS said the project was “totally unsuitable for a modern Wales” that was seeking to stop climate change.
“It is shameful that once again the Conservatives are riding roughshod over devolution in this case,” she said.
“The people of Wales now must unite in the campaign against this mine and show the Conservative Government that Wales deserves to be at the forefront of the fight against climate change and the green economy, not saddled with relics from the past.”
The UK Government have said that the Coal Authority and Welsh ministers are continuing to discuss the matter “but no decisions have been made yet on whether the mining project can progress.”
Jane Dodds, a Senedd member for mid and west Wales, added that it was “absolute madness” that the UK was potentially going ahead with the scheme after hosting the COP26 climate summit.
“Coal remains the dirtiest form of power on the planet and a new mine will result in new emissions being released at precisely the vital moment we are urgently trying to cut them,” she said.
“The pollution caused by coal mining and the burning of coal is utterly is unacceptable in the 21st century when a whole range of cleaner alternatives exist.
“Not only is coal a pollutant, but the process of mining also contributes heavily to water pollution and can lower water tables, damaging surrounding wildlife, farmlands and drinking water supplies.
“We also know that coal mining and the burning of coal is harmful not only to our planet but also to our health, with a clear link between pollution from the burning and mining of coal to lung cancer and a range of respiratory illnesses.”
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