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UK energy policy 'hostile to coal'

The UK's energy policy has been "hostile" to coal as the industry faces the prospect of having just one deep pit because of fresh closures, MPs have been told.

A special session of the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee heard there was "no real effort" being made to use coal produced in this country in power stations.

Labour MP Ian Lavery (Wansbeck), a former official of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), posed a series of questions on how the government could do more to save coal from total extinction.

He asked Nigel Yaxley, managing director of the Association of UK Coal Importers, whether the UK energy policy had been hostile to coal.

Mr Yaxley replied: "Yes. There hasn't been sufficient attention to affordability and security. "

He said a package of measures has come forward for renewable energy, but efforts to boost carbon capture and storage in coal-fired power stations had been much slower, and he added: " It can be as cheap as offshore wind."

John Grogan, chairman of Hatfield Colliery in Yorkshire, said there was a strong argument for power stations "keeping alive" the British coal industry.

He told MPs that "any support" from the Government would be welcomed, stressing that hundreds of British companies supplied goods and services to British pits.

"All that supply chain could go if the three remaining deep mines close."

Hatfield will be the last remaining deep pit after the "managed closure" of Kellingley, in North Yorkshire, and Thoresby in Nottinghamshire, both owned by UK Coal.

He said the only way the coal industry would survive in this country was with Government support or long-term contracts with power stations.

Mr Lavery questioned whether European Union aid could be used to support the coal industry as opposed to helping with pit closure costs.

He asked whether UK Coal was "jumping from a sinking ship."

NUM general secretary Chris Kitchen told the committee that coal had been left "to fend for itself."


From Belfast Telegraph