No more Fossil Fuels

May 2023

Mine victory for Welsh community

'Ecologist' online   Catherine Early 5 May 2023   c Creative Commons

Campaigners in Wales are celebrating the refusal of a coal mine extension - but are in despair that restoration repeatedly promised to them in return for putting up with noise and dust from the open cast coal mine might never happen. 

Councillors at Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council have voted unanimously to refuse planning permission for the expansion of the Ffos-y-Fran coal mine, a 400ha open cast coal mine 1.5km from the town centre of Merthyr Tydfil. 

The mine contains dry steam coal, which is suited to steel manufacturing rather than power generation, and is mostly sold to the TATA Steel plant at nearby Port Talbot. It was originally granted permission in 2005, but this was amended in 2011 along with a condition that all coal extraction from the development was to cease no later than 6 September 2022, with final restoration of the land to be completed by 6 December 2024. 

However, last year operator Merthyr South Wales applied to extend coaling to March 2024, and to move the restoration deadline to June 2026, which would allow the 240,000 tonnes of coal remaining in the mine to be extracted. 

Read the full article


December 2022

UK government approves Cumbria coalmine

The UK will build its first new coalmine for three decades at Whitehaven in Cumbria, despite objections locally, across the UK and from around the world.

Michael Gove, the levelling up secretary, gave the green light for the project on Wednesday, paving the way for an estimated investment of £165m that will create about 500 new jobs in the region and produce 2.8m tonnes of coking coal a year, largely for steelmaking.

Media comment

'Cumbria coalmine approval shows Sunak does not care whether he is seen as green'The Guardian  7 December 2022  Fiona Harvey, Environment editor

'First UK coal mine in decades approved despite climate concerns'BBC News  7 December 2022  Christina McSorley, Joshua Nevett,  Justin Rowlatt.


November 2022

FoES  'Stop Rosebank'  campaign

Prompted by an email from Friends of the Earth Scotland, we recently sent a slightly personalised version of their standard email message to all Highland MSPs.

Text of FoES' campaign email

The UK Government is currently considering approving a huge new oil field in the North Sea, called Rosebank. It would be almost three times the size of the controversial Cambo oil field, which was paused last year because of widespread public and political opposition.

Burning the oil and gas from Rosebank would produce more CO2 than the annual CO2 emissions of the 28 lowest-income countries in the world combined.

Climate science is clear that the window for maintaining a liveable climate is closing. Every new oil field pours more fuel on the fire. We have to come together to make some noise to stop this field.  

The campaign to stop Cambo last year gained cross-party support from many different MSPs. When the Scottish Government finally spoke out against it, it didn’t take long for Shell to pull out of the project.

Although the final decision on Rosebank will be taken by the UK Government, MSPs and the Scottish Government have the power and responsibility to influence this decision by taking a stand against Rosebank - and all new oil and gas in the North Sea.

The Scottish Government has already said that they don’t agree with the UK Government’s plans to expand oil and gas extraction. New oil and gas is not the answer to either the cost of living crisis or the climate crisis. But they are yet to speak out directly against Rosebank.

Text of email provided by FoES for campaign supporters to send to their MSPs. 

MSPs' responses

Our constituency MSP Kate Forbes, and Emma Roddick (SNP), sent similar responses saying that they and the Scottish Government were opposed to further extraction of fossil fuels but pointing out that extraction licensing was a reserved matter and The Scottish Government had no direct involvement in the process, until such time (implied or stated) that Scotland achieved independence.

Ariane Burgess, on behalf of the Scottish Green Party, sent a much more detailed response, with links to statements from the IPCC and the International Energy Agency on the need to end fossil fuel extraction, and to a letter sent  to UK Energy minister Jacob Rees-Mogg by Green MSP Mark Ruskell, protesting in the strongest terms against the possible development of the Rosebank field.

Read Ariane Burgess' response

Jamie Halcro Johnston (Conservative) gave a very different response, decrying what he described as  'knee jerk decisions that will see us import oil and gas from other countries which would lead to increased pollution, but will not create jobs in Scotland'.  Accepting that we need to transition away from non-renewable energy sources, he says that  'we need to do that gradually and sensibly in a way that ensures we protect those jobs and deliver a real future for [Scotland's oil and gas] sector and the North East.'  Implicitly supporting the Development of Rosebank, he suggests that  'The Scottish Government’s obligation should be to bring Scotland in as a full partner in the North Sea Transition Deal'  (a UK Government initiative involving co-operation between various government and industry bodies and support for the development of Carbon Capture, Usage and Storage (CCUS) technology) -  to protect jobs and reduce emissions.

Read Jamie Halcro Johnston's response

It is not known wnen a decision on licensing Rosebank will be made.  It has been suggested (The Guardian 30 October), that the UK Government stands to lose more than £100m, rather than benefit, if drilling at the UK’s largest undeveloped oil field is approved.  This is because of the 'investment rebate' loophole in the windfall tax legislation passed in May this year (2022).


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