Press Release: embargoed until 01/03/16
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CLIMATE ACTIVISTS VOW TO SHUT DOWN UK’S LARGEST OPENCAST COAL MINE
Climate activist network Reclaim the Power today announced it will shut down the UK’s largest opencast coal mine – Ffos-y-fran, near Merthyr Tydfil in south Wales – at the start of May.
Hundreds are expected to set up camp nearby and take part in a mass action to close the mine. The action will take place just a few days before the Welsh Assembly elections on May 5th.
Ellie Groves, a spokesperson from Reclaim the Power, commented:
“The only way we can stop catastrophic climate change is taking action to keep fossil fuels in the ground.
“The local community have battled Ffos-y-fran for nearly a decade and now face the threat of a new mine next door at Nant Llesg. We stand in solidarity with them, and with communities on the front lines of extraction and climate change across the world.
“The coal from this mine also fuels Aberthaw, a power station so dirty it’s been breaking the law for eight years.
“Enough is enough. We need a ban on opencast coal mining across Wales, and the rest of the UK.”
Ffos-y-fran is an 11-million tonne opencast coal mine run by company Miller Argent that has been operating since 2007. Miller Argent’s application for a new coal mine at Nant Llesg was rejected by Caerphilly Council in August 2015 but has recently been appealed by the company.
The Welsh Assembly voted for a moratorium on opencast coal mining last April, but this has yet to become legally binding.
Coal from Ffos-y-fran fuels the highly-polluting Aberthaw coal power station in south Wales, which has been in breach of EU air quality regulations for eight years.
The action is part of a global wave of resistance happening in May, shutting down the world’s most dangerous fossil fuel projects and supporting the most ambitious climate solutions. People across the world will use direct action and civil disobedience to ‘break free’ from fossil fuels.
- For more information on the action, visit http://reclaimthepower.org.uk/endcoalnow
- Local people have campaigned against the huge Ffos-y-fran opencast coal mine since 2007, and are now fighting the proposed mine at Nant Llesg. Visit http://stopffosyfran.co.uk/ to find out more about the community’s fight. With the recent sale of the mine to new company Gwent Investments Ltd., there’s no guarantee the mines will ever be restored.
- Coal is the dirtiest fuel of all. It produces more CO2 than any other fossil fuel; releases sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides into the air, which damage health, create acid rain and smog; releases toxins into the local water supply, including mercury and other heavy metals; and mining causes noise pollution which breach legal limits.
- To keep global temperatures from increasing beyond 2oC, scientists say we need to keep more than 80% of coal reserves in the ground. 195 countries agreed in Paris to try to keep temperatures below 1.5OC, so even more coal now needs to stay buried.
- Air pollution from coal plants in the UK were estimated to cause 1,600 premature deaths a year.
- Coal mined at Ffos-y-fran supplies the Aberthaw coal power station in south Wales. Aberthaw has been breaking legal air pollution limits since 2008, for which the UK government is currently being taken to court by the European Commission, making it the most polluting power station in the UK in terms of nitrogen oxide emissions.
- A recent report by Friends of the Earth Cymru estimates that, factoring in its health and environmental impacts, Aberthaw is a net drain on society to the tune of £400million.
- The UK government has announced an intention to phase out coal power by 2025.
- The Welsh Assembly voted in 2015 for a moratorium on new opencast coal mines, but this has not been turned into law by the current Welsh government. Countries around the world, led by the Pacific Island States, are calling for a global moratorium on all new coal mines.
- Merthyr is one of the most deprived parts of the UK. Of the 432 local authorities in the UK, life expectancy in 2005 came 429th.
- This action is part of Groundswell: a year of escalating direct action planned by Reclaim the Power in the wake of the Paris climate talks, in which governments pledged to keep global temperatures below a 1.5C increase.