In November 2015 Amber Rudd, when she was secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, said, “I am pleased to announce that we will be launching a consultation in the spring on when to close all unabated coal-fired power stations. Our consultation will set out proposals to close coal by 2025 – and restrict its use from 2023.” (‘Amber Rudd’s speech on a new direction for UK energy policy‘ (18/11/15))
The proposals for the coal phase out consultation were finally released on the 9th November. There hasn’t been a lot of news coverage given that Trump was elected as the next American president on the same day.
Coal Action Network, like many other groups are pleased that the government is looking at the issues of addressing climate change by considering the country’s use of coal. However we feel that urgent action needs to be taken to reduce the impacts of climate change and to restrict the impact of coal extraction on front-line communities.
“For the people living next to the ever expanding opencast coal mines in Colombia, Russia and the UK we need to move away from this dirtiest of all fossil fuels now. Every day of delay increases the numbers of people affected by the adverse health impacts caused by coal dust, sees worsening climate change and puts the energy consumption of the people in the UK above the existence of communities at the front-lines of mining and climate change,” says Anne Harris for the Coal Action Network.
The government are now looking for submissions to the consultation. CAN will be making a thorough submission to the consultation to highlight the issues for front-line communities to underline why more urgent action is needed than the current proposals.
CAN’s issue with the consultation document are as follows:
- There is no mention of the impacts of coal mining on neighbouring communities in the document
- Reducing coal use prior to 2025 is not included
- The proposals can be interpreted as intending to prevent more coal power stations from closing prior to 2025.
- Government needs to commit to implementing the EU’s increasing air quality standards despite Brexit negotiations
- Action needs to be taken to stop the Capacity Market auctions including further coal generation prior to 2025
- Conversion of coal plants to biomass must be stopped
- Recent attacks on the renewable industries need to be reversed to ensure a cleaner energy mix rather than relying on nuclear
- Just transition for power station workers and their communities makes up part of the document, but needs to be prioritised
- The document proposes that future Secretary of State could postpone or amend the agreement when legally enforceable action needs to take place.