Monthly Archives: October 2018

Banks Mining Company’s Appeal against rejection of its Druridge Coal Mine

Banks Mining Company appeals against the Government’s decision to reject its application to create a new, opencast coal mine, near Druridge Bay.

BACKGROUND: Banks Mining Company lodged an Appeal against the Government’s rejection of its application to create a new, opencast coal mine at Highthorn, near Druridge Bay, Northumberland, and this was heard at the High Court in London on 17th and 18th October, 2018.

As Banks’ barrister made clear, the main battle over the proposed opencast coal mine, near Druridge Bay, is being fought over its possible impact on greenhouse gas emissions and climate change, which Sajid Javid, the then Communities Minister flagged up in his extraordinary decision overturning the recommendation of the Inspector whom he had himself appointed to conduct the Public Inquiry.

Note by David Golding: I wasn’t able to attend the hearing, but a comment of it can be read on the website of Coal Action Network.

NEWS RELEASE

Keith Anderson, the chief executive of Scottish Power, recently explained his company’s new focus on renewable energy with reference to climate change and the IPCC’s stark warnings, published on 8th October. He stated that (Saturday 20 Oct) “My absolute belief is that [industrial] organisations need to be at the forefront of that change [called for by the IPCC]. We can’t be part of the problem, we have to be part of the solution.”

How very different the approach of Banks Mining Company, which has taken the Government to court to try and overturn its rejection of their application to build a new, opencast coal mine within a stone’s throw of the beauty spot, Druridge Bay. Its head remains stuck in the sand more deeply than that of any ostrich! As a signatory of 2015’s Paris Agreement, the UK is both morally and legally bound to “pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase…to 1.5C” – an enormously challenging goal, which allows no latitude whatever for ‘carbon indulgence’. But Banks doesn’t seem to have noticed! Likewise, on 16th November last year, Claire Perry, the UK’s Climate Change Minister, declared that “The time for coal has passed”, when she launched the Government’s new ‘Powering Past Coal Alliance’ initiative. But this also seems to have passed Banks by, leaving it like an old record, where the needle is stuck in one of the grooves, playing the same old, tired tune, over and over again!

Nathalie Lieven QC, for the company, says that the Government’s decision was “plainly wrong”, but she ignores the message which approval of the mine would send to the country’s industry and finance – namely, that it’s still “business and usual – so carry on polluting”. But even more serious would be the damaging impact of this message abroad. John Ashton CBE, who served three Foreign Secretaries as Special Representative on Climate Change, told the Public Inquiry that: “The goal of UK climate diplomacy has been to accelerate the move away from fossil energy, and especially from unabated coal, across all the major economies… But the foundation for all effective diplomacy is action at home. If you do not walk your talk, those you seek to influence stop listening… If we were to press ahead with the development of new coal resources at home… we would be cutting our climate diplomacy off at the knees, and undermining our fundamental national interest in a successful global response to climate change.”

Just so – we have to “walk our talk”! In contrast, consent for any new coal mine here would serve as a ‘green light’ for further exploitation of this most polluting of fuels throughout the world. “The time for coal has passed”, stated Claire Perry. It has indeed – and so has the time when it was acceptable for us to treat the atmosphere like an open sewer into which we can discharge our pollution. It’s time for Banks to wake up and drag itself into the new, low carbon world.

David W. Golding CBE PhD DSc DCL

Associate, Institute for Sustainability, and Honorary Chaplain, Newcastle University; Development Coordinator, North East CALL TO ACTION on global poverty and climate change.

david.golding@ncl.ac.uk

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Jubilee Debt Campaign’s National Mobilisation, 29th September

The gathering marked 20 years since Jubilee 2000’s mould-breaking ‘Human Chain’ at the G7, in Birmingham. It revealed that JDC’s supporters are in good heart – and that the campaign still have important and innovative things to say! Among the contributors were those well known to NE-CAP, such as Ann Pettifor, the former Director of Jubilee 2000, and Nick Dearden, the former Director of JDC and now Director of Global Justice Now.

David Golding was asked to give a presentation on Saturday on, “The role and importance of local groups and grassroots campaigning, both in the 1990s and 2000s, but also in the present day”. [In 10 minutes. Gulp!] The headings are as below, but the full text can be found here.

First, Jubilee 2000 brought home to us not only the terrible reality of the lives of so many people trapped in what the Millennium Declaration calls “the abject and dehumanising conditions of extreme poverty”, but also, perhaps more important, the role that Western governments were playing in consolidating those conditions. To people of my generation – I was born just south of London, in 1940, this was a profound shock! [And so on.]

Second, Jubilee 2000 and the Chain brought home to us what could be achieved by working together. [Quoted Longfellow’s poem,] And so on… One other important point about working together locally can be summed up in the familiar exhortation, “Bloom where you’re planted”. [And so on.]

“A final lesson I learnt from Jubilee 2000 (says he provocatively) is not to follow its example and stand down too soon. How many of the promises on debt relief made prior to the end of 2000 would, in fact, have been honoured, had Jubilee Debt Campaign not ‘kept their feet to the fire’?

Similarly, would ‘Drop the Debt’ have been so prominent on the Make Poverty History agenda had it not been for our pressure? And would relief have been given to Liberia and Haiti? And would our leaders have passed the Vultures Bill?

In each case, probably not, and from this I conclude that perhaps the greatest contribution made by grassroots campaigners to the debt campaign was the ‘right rumpus’ we kicked up at the prospect of the closure of the campaign at the end of 2000.

So one of the great lessons from Jubilee 2000 and its transition to Jubilee Debt Campaign, as from the anti-slavery campaign, is the need for persistence… [And so on.]

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