Q&A: Ferrybridge closure - the questions that need answering.

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The closure of Ferrybridge power station is another huge blow to the once-proud UK coal industry.

But what does it mean for the county of Yorkshire, and the nation as a whole? Here are the key questions...

Engery company SSE has announced the closure of Ferrybridge Power Station with a loss of 170 jobs. Picture: James Hardisty

Engery company SSE has announced the closure of Ferrybridge Power Station with a loss of 170 jobs. Picture: James Hardisty

Q: Why is SSE closing its plant in Yorkshire?

A: The energy giant has blamed three factors: economics - the power station is predicted to lose £100 million over the next five years; “constraints” imposed by the Industrial Emissions Directive, and the political “direction of travel” against coal.

Q: Where did SSE buy coal from to burn at Ferrybridge?

A: Russia and the underground pit at Kellingley in Yorkshire.

Ferrybridge Power Station viewed from the M62. Picture: James Hardisty

Ferrybridge Power Station viewed from the M62. Picture: James Hardisty

Q: How many deep pits are there in the UK?

A: Just three - and Kellingley and Thoresby in Nottinghamshire are due to close after the Government announced earlier this year it will not provide funding to keep them open.

Q: Will there be any deep mines at all soon?

A: The third pit, Hatfield in Yorkshire, is also expected to close, leaving the UK coal industry with just surface mines.

Engery company SSE has announced the closure of Ferrybridge Power Station with a loss of 170 jobs. Picture: James Hardisty

Engery company SSE has announced the closure of Ferrybridge Power Station with a loss of 170 jobs. Picture: James Hardisty

Q: When did the industry’s demise start?

A: Coal has never been the same since the bitter, year-long miners’ strike which started in 1984 over job losses and pit closures.

Q: What happened to the industry after the strike ended?

A: A total of 24 pits closed in 1985, 16 the following year and a further 35 before 1990. Closures continued in the early 1990s, and after the industry was privatised at the end of 1994.

Engery company SSE has announced the closure of Ferrybridge Power Station with a loss of 170 jobs. Picture: James Hardisty

Engery company SSE has announced the closure of Ferrybridge Power Station with a loss of 170 jobs. Picture: James Hardisty

Q: What are the environmental concerns about coal?

A: Coal produces the most carbon emissions for the energy it produces of all types of fossil fuels, and cutting greenhouse gases from coal is a key requirement for driving down the pollution that causes climate change.

Experts have estimated that more than 80% of the world’s known coal reserves need to stay in the ground if we are to keep temperatures from rising to dangerous levels.

Q: Is it just about climate change?

A: In addition to carbon, coal fired power plants emit mercury, sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides which are dangerous to human health and the environment. The emissions can cause heart and respiratory problems, early deaths and affect the natural world through issues such as acid rain, prompting countries to bring in emissions limits for such pollutants.

Q: What is the political view of coal fired power stations?

A: David Cameron pledged in the run up to the election that he supported the phasing out of polluting coal fired plants, as part of efforts to tackle climate change, and they already have to pay a “carbon price” for the pollution they cause.

Some coal-fired power stations have been thrown something of a lifeline with payments to stay online to ensure the lights stay on in the next few years.

There is also support in government for coal and gas plants with technology to capture and store emissions, but this is likely to be prohibitively expensive to fit on existing power stations.

READ MORE...

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