New UK deep coal mine ‘unnecessary’: Green Alliance

LONDON, United Kingdom (AFP) – Plans for new deep coal mining projects in Britain are “unnecessary” and incompatible with the country’s 2050 carbon-neutral target, a report by environmental think-tank Green Alliance said Wednesday.

The report focused on Woodhouse Colliery in the county of Cumbria, in northwest England, which is the first deep coal mine project to be launched in Britain in 40 years.

The mine was “unnecessary” for the local steel industry and would instead “hinder the development of low carbon alternatives to conventional steel production”, said the report, written by two academics, Rebecca Willis and Mike Berners-Lee.

“No new high-carbon infrastructure (mines, airports etc) can be built and used if the world is to keep within 1.5 degrees,” Willis told AFP, referring to the Celsius temperature goal set out in the Paris climate pact.

“The UK, if it wants to see itself as a climate leader, needs to have a much firmer line on extraction of fossil fuel.”

Local authorities have already approved the mine, which would produce 2.43 million tonnes of coal per year for the steel industry, but other regulators are yet to give the green light.

Britain has committed to move away from coal, with its last coal-fired power stations due to close within five years.

A picture shows cooling towers at the decommisioned Willington Power Station, near the village of Willington in northern England, at sunrise on October 29, 2018. – The Willington Power Stations were two coal-fired power stations constructed in the 1950s and decommissioned in 1999. Nearly 20 years on since the power stations closure the cooling towers still loom large in the landscape with the owners hoping to redevelop the site into a gas-fired power station. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP)

Green Alliance points out that there are currently “a number of proposals for new coal mines” in the country, in addition to the one in Cumbria.

The report calls on the steel industry to work towards a lower carbon future by recycling steel, modernising steelworks to make them more energy efficient including through innovative techniques using natural gas or hydrogen.

Bales of recycled metal sit ahead of use in the Scrap Yard at Sheffield Forgemasters International Ltd. in Sheffield, northern England on August 27, 2015. Sheffield Forgemasters produce a wide array of large-scale steel products through their casting and forging operations for industries including: power generation, defence, civil nuclear industries and offshore oil and gas. AFP PHOTO / OLI SCARFF (Photo by OLI SCARFF / AFP)

“Less steel could be used, through more efficient building and manufacturing processes,” it added.

Backers of the project say that it will directly create 518 jobs in an economically disadvantaged region, and that it would cut the need for imports, making it “carbon neutral”.

To read the full report produced by Green Alliance, click here.

© Agence France-Presse