Stop approval of 40 MILLION tonnes of new UK coal mining. It ends here

by Coal Action Network

Stop approval of 40 MILLION tonnes of new UK coal mining. It ends here

by Coal Action Network
Coal Action Network
Case Owner
Coal Action Network has been working with communities fighting coal extraction in the UK and in countries supplying this country since 2008.
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Coal Action Network
Case Owner
Coal Action Network has been working with communities fighting coal extraction in the UK and in countries supplying this country since 2008.
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Coal Action Network is launching a challenge to governmental decisions permitting a massive coal mine expansion. The Coal Authority says it cannot consider the climate impacts of this mine, while the Welsh Government believes it can’t block it. Our lawyers say both are wrong. 

Coal – still the #1 fossil fuel driving climate change globally

During 2021, at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, Boris Johnson told the BBC, “I’m not in favour of more coal”. The final COP26 text was the first from an international summit to specifically mention fossil fuels. It looked like coal was finally on its way out in the UK and internationally. Fast forward just a few months and the UK Coal Authority and Welsh Government are set to enable a massive coal mine extension. This will contribute to what is expected to be the biggest year ever for coal mining globally. Coal Action Network are taking legal action to stop the UK’s role in fuelling this climate chaos.

Aberpergwm coal mine extension proposal

The existing Aberpergwm coal mine is in South Wales. 

Mining company, Energybuild Mining Ltd, wants to extend mining until 2039 to extract an extra 40+ million tonnes of coal. If this happens it will release up to 1.17 million tonnes of methane, a powerful climate change accelerator, and around 100 million tonnes of CO2. 

The International Energy Agency has set out a pathway to reach net-zero by 2050, in which for both coking and steam coal, “[n]o new coal mines or extensions of existing ones are needed…existing sources of production are sufficient to cover demand through to 2050”1.

Why The Coal Authority?

The Coal Authority regulates all activity in the UK relating to coal mining. The Coal Authority insists it cannot legally consider climate change when deciding a coal mine application, a necessary step for coal mining in the UK. Our specialist legal team, including Richard Buxton Solicitors and our barrister, Estelle Dehon (recently tipped to be Queen’s Counsel) disagrees. Under our instruction, they challenged The Coal Authority on 9th March, explaining how—under The Coal Industry Act 1994—The Coal Authority could consider other factors such as climate change in its licencing decision. Our solicitors accordingly have called on The Coal Authority to revise its decision on the Aberpergwm coal mine extension. The Coal Authority has refused.

Why the Welsh Government?

The Welsh Government has failed to see that its approval is needed for this coal mine licence to be valid. It claims that as the mine was started prior to the Wales Act 2017, it does not apply to this extension. The Coal Authority has said it has asked the Welsh government for "any direction they wish to give", suggesting the coal regulator agrees with our lawyers, that the Wales Act does apply, and Welsh Governmental approval is needed for this licence to be valid.

What legal action is needed to stop the extension?

This crowdfunder will make it possible to haul both the Welsh Government and The Coal Authority into court to challenge the lawfulness of the decision to licence the Aberpergwm coal mine. This is called a Judicial Review. Coal Action Network has started this legal process with pre-action letters to both parties but the next stage gets really expensive. We need your help to see this through.

What would we win? 

We’d force The Coal Authority to remake its decision on the Aberpergwm coal mining licence. But critically, we’d have moved The Coal Authority to a new position where it must admit it could consider climate change as a reason to reject coal mine applications. We’d also force the Welsh Government to withhold approval rendering the licence invalid, as per its policy against coal. 

Winning both maximises our chance of stopping the coal being mined, but even if we win just one, we’re in with a good chance to stop this climate wrecking extension. 

The potential impact beyond this extension is also massive as it is likely to discourage future applications, including the three other coal mines/extensions still being considered in the UK.

How you can help stop 100 million tonnes of CO2 from being released

We can’t take either The Coal Authority and Welsh Government to court without your help, let alone both. We’ll be working with Barrister, Estelle Dehon, who, along with Richard Buxton Solicitors, have an incredible reputation of fighting fossil fuel projects. First, we need to raise £10,000 to pay for our legal team to get a Judge’s permission to start a Judicial Review. Step two—if that’s successful we’ll increase the amount we need to raise on the crowdfunder to cover the whole Judicial Review process. We have an estimate that this will be up to £65,000. Anything you can give and any networks you can share this crowdfunder through are so very much appreciated.

Should we raise more than we need, for example if one party concedes, we’ll pay up to £5,000 of the additional funds into community projects looking to improve the Neath Valley area. Anything beyond this will be used in other campaigns against the coal industry by Coal Action Network.

Thank you so much for supporting this Judicial Review and taking meaningful action to keep coal in the ground.

1 IEA (2021) Net Zero by 2050 A Roadmap for the Global Energy Sector, p103


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