Banks Mining Company still peddling the same, discredited arguments for its shameful proposals
… ‘either profoundly ignorant’, or ‘blinded by money’
“Shameful”? “It would be shameful were the UK to open this new coal mine” (Sir David Attenborough, 2nd February, 2019)
“’Either profoundly ignorant’, or ‘blinded by money’”? “The individuals pushing ahead with the proposals are either profoundly ignorant of the risks of climate change, or so blinded by money as to be a menace to our children and grandchildren.” (Professor Sir John H. Lawton CBE FRS, Former Chair of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution)
Banks Mining Company has ‘changed its tune’ in its justification for a new opencast coalmine at Highthorn, near the beauty spot Duridge Bay, but is still hopelessly ‘off-key’. Initially, it based its proposal on the need for coal for electricity generation, but since this argument was refuted (indeed, denounced) by a body of distinguished scientists at Newcastle University, and elsewhere (including Sir David Attenborough), it has claimed the coal is required for the manufacture of steel and cement.
However, the Company’s argument has not really changed at all, being based on the assertion that it is better to produce the coal in the UK, rather than importing it. Superficially plausible, this argument is seriously flawed, since every new mine will, almost inevitably, increase the total amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere when the coal is burnt.
Consequently, it is NOT preferable to source the coal in the UK if this means creating new mines, since this will, almost inevitably, increase the total amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere when the coal is burnt!
Banks attempts to burnish its green credentials by drawing attention to the CO2 emissions involved in the transport of imported coal, but this argument is also flawed: first, the carbon cost of bulk transport is minor (about 1% of the footprint of the coal) and, second, the carbon costs involved in creating a new coal mine are substantial.
Professor Sir John H. Lawton CBE FRS, Former Chair of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution, states that “The threat of climate change is now so obvious and so deeply worrying that we need to be closing coal mines as quickly as possible, not opening new ones.”
We do indeed, since the vast majority of coal reserves SIMPLY MUST be left in the ground if we are to avoid the worst excesses of climate change. So how are we to proceed, given industry’s continuing need for coal in the short term? We need to run down the extraction of coal, both at home and abroad, as a matter of urgency, whilst, in parallel, reducing the need for it in the ways proposed by Professor Rebecca Willis et al. (“The case against new coal mines in the UK’, Green Alliance, January 2020)
David W. Golding CBE PhD DSc DCL
Associate, Faculty of Science, Agriculture & Engineering, and Honorary Chaplain, Newcastle University;
Development Coordinator, North East CALL TO ACTION on global poverty and climate change; Founding Trustee, Jubilee Debt Campaign; Trustee, Blue Sky Trust (ACET North East); Spokesperson for Tearfund in NE England.