Climate Activists Want Welsh Government to Reject Coal Mine Expansion
The Coal Action Network has urged the Welsh Government to reject an application by Energy Build to expand the Aberpergwm coal mine.
In January last year the colliery in Aberpergwm near Glynneath was given permission by the Coal Authority to mine a further 40 million tones of coal until 2039. Energy Build the company that owns the mine says the coal will not be burned but used in processes such as water purification.
But, climate change activists in Wales say that this should not happen.
Both arguments were heard at a two day court hearing last week. The result of this would be announced on a latter date. It comes after a High Court judge granted the Coal Action Network (CAN) permission to file a judicial review challenge last year July.
The Coal Network Action held a protest outside the hearing.
The protest had people from different climate change organizations such as Friends of the Earth Cymru, XR Extinction Rebellion Cymru, Wales Green Party and Climate Cymru.
Coal Action Network said the call to reject the Aberpergwm expansion proposal comes as the world continues to grapple with the challenges of climate change. They say governments and businesses worldwide are increasingly being held accountable for their contribution to carbon emissions and urged to transition to cleaner energy sources.
Jane Dodds, the leader of Welsh Liberal Democrats, came to show her support for the hearing.
“The Welsh government says they are not responsible for the decision and its the UK government can make the decision. But this court case will hopefully give clarity that Welsh government can take the decisions.” said Ms. Dodds.
Climate Cyrmu campaigner Bethan Sayeed said, ” They promised to rejuvenate the place but they have just expanded and enhanced the coaling over the years. Its a blight on the landscape.”
She said she would not want her son who is two years old now to be living in world were coal mining just keeps expanding.
The Welsh Government adopted a strong policy against coal mining in March 2021, and the Coal Action Network believes the government should be held accountable for its commitment.
Energy Build said, the Aberpergwm project will support 160 jobs, with dozens more in the supply chain. It said it will gradually transition away from supplying steelworks at Port Talbot and hopes to have a larger share of its coal destined for other end uses such as water filtration, which currently accounts for about 15% of its market.
But the Coal Action Network warns that the expansion of the mine would result in the equivalent of 100 million tones of carbon emissions being released into the atmosphere. The network argues that the Welsh Government should focus on transitioning these workers into industries with a cleaner and more sustainable future.
But Welsh Government said they are focused on their climate emergency goals and do not promote misuse of fossil fuels.
The result of the court hearing will give a clearer understanding as to what happens next.