More smoke and mirrors over costs of abandoning coal

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From: Barrie Frost, Watson’s Lane, Reighton, Filey.

THE letter from Chris Broome of the Sheffield Campaign Against Climate Change (The Yorkshire Post, April 14), who opposes the use of coal to supply our energy needs, adds more confusion to the global pollution debate.

Kellingley and Thoresby pits are destined to close in the very near future and Britain’s huge coal mining industry will virtually cease to exist; an industry which employed over 200,000 people. An abysmal £10m has been allocated by the Government to help prolong the closures.

So, if coal is not wanted, if it is so dirty to burn, why do we import around 50 million tonnes of this each year, from Russia, Columbia and the USA, as this cannot reduce pollution, can it? Indeed its transportation adds to global pollution. Why then do we import such vast quantities? Why do we willingly risk the supplies of gas and coal from Russia, as events in Crimea highlight? Because, it’s cheaper to import – nothing to do with saving the planet. And, if there is a mining accident, say in Columbia, will Britain’s industries be lambasted for “exploiting” cheap labour and dreadful working conditions, in order to obtain this cheaper product, in the same way our clothing industries were blamed for the recent factory tragedies in Bangladesh?

We have been told by many “experts” that coal is a dirty, nasty fossil fuel and much “cleaner” ways must be found to generate our electricity, yet coal is still needed to provide between 40 and 50 per cent of this. The UN says we must move away from the burning and subsequent pollution of dirty fossil fuels to cleaner fuels. Harmful emissions need to be cut by 40 per cent by mid century, they say. So what do we do to make this happen? We import millions of tonnes of dirtier biomass wood pellets.

Drax power station was previously the second largest coal burning power station in Europe. The British Government has given £700m to Drax to convert six of its burners to burn biomass material; imported wood pellets which, according to the EU and, I believe, many of our own self-appointed experts, are carbon neutral and thus far “cleaner” than burning our own coal. Has the public been misinformed again? Well, according to the chief of a major American company which supplies these wood pellets, they are, in fact, far dirtier than burning coal.

There will be no need to ask the last person who leaves Great Britain to turn off the lights as they will have gone off on their own.