Bernard Ingham: Kellingley closure is last chapter in tale of suicidal stupidity

Picture by Simon Hulme
Picture by Simon Hulme
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REMEMBER Kellingley. The closure of the last deep mine in Britain is symbolic. The pit near Selby that represented the future of coal now speaks volumes for the long-term stupidity of British politicians.

Kellingley began producing coal as I left Leeds for Fleet Street in 1965. Its Beeston seam was given an economic life of precisely 50 years and seems to have delivered just that in spite of all that politicians from Arthur Scargill to Green lunatics like Ed Davey, the former Liberal Democrat Energy Secretary, could throw at it.

It is not, however, the end of coal production in Britain. Open cast mining produces about 10m tonnes a year, so indigenous coal is not yet as dead as the environmentalists would have it.

By the way, I wonder, how the Leftie “Greens” would have coped with coal if King Arthur were still on his Barnsley throne? I suppose they would have been fanatical supporters of CCS (carbon capture and storage) of power station carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions under the North Sea, an impossible dream now abandoned by the Government.

In fact, C02 is relatively harmless and an indispensable plant food. I say relatively because the medics are concerned that I retain too much of it. Apparently, if you were all like me, there would be no talk of global warming – only global gasping.

You will gather that I cannot take seriously all this climate change nonsense on which much midnight oil has just been burned at the UN conference in Paris.

CO2, like midnight oil, undoubtedly has the property to warm the planet. But whether it has done so since the onset of the Industrial Revolution is an open question since the claim depends entirely on computer models not confirmed by observation.

Don’t kid yourself that the Cumbrian floods have anything necessarily to do with CO2. Burning fossil fuels certainly damages the atmosphere through such things as particulates, nitrogen and sulphur emissions.

There is a far better medical than environmental case for winding down fossil fuel consumption.

But the environment is the fashionable concern, so we have annually to put up with all kinds of UN-inspired offence to our sensibilities.

The Paris declaration, the 21st in an ignorant and hypocritical line of charades, is quite simply a colossal $65bn a year blackmail scam by the developing countries – to “fine” the West for their own benefit for inaugurating the Industrial Revolution.

Of course, this pathetic exercise in piety would not matter a jot (since nothing much will happen as a result) if Western nations had not been so crass as to adopt suicidal energy policies for the last 20 years.

They have imposed unnecessary costs on both industrial and domestic consumers to the detriment of the economy by subsidising wind and solar power and introducing heaven only knows how many failed schemes from CCS to smart meters to warmer homes regardless of security of supply.

In favouring so-called renewables – even to the ludicrous extent of subsidising CO2-rich biomass (wood) at Drax – they have set EU targets for closing coal-fired power stations and turned their back on nuclear power, the answer to all their security and environmental prayers.

Take, for example, Angela Merkel. Long before her crass welcome to 800,000 migrants, she had proved a liability to her nation by progressively shutting down its nuclear power fleet even though the Fukushima tsunami disaster in Japan irradiated not a single member of the public.

All is not quite lost. Here in Britain our dense politicians are beginning to realise that wind and solar – Merkel’s staples – are a con, especially since fossil fuels have to fill the gap when the wind doesn’t blow and night falls.

The costs of even more expensive offshore wind are being reined in. But coal has to go under an EU regime and, given the uselessness of wind and solar, will have to be substituted by imported gas.

The blockheaded Greens are, of course, all against fracking for indigenous gas and wouldn’t touch nuclear power with a bargepole.

Incidentally, I shall put the flag out when the French and Chinese actually start to build (because we have lost the skills) the endlessly delayed Hinkley Point nuclear station in Somerset.

In a rational world, Kellingley in full production alongside new nuclear power would be very useful at this hour.

Mucky diesel power generators are to be paid up to six times the market price to keep the lights on.

When you meet a sensible politician, please let me know.