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UK: Campaigners Lose Legal Challenge Over Coal Mine Expansion



May 20, 2023 - Campaigners who have lost a legal challenge aimed at halting the extraction of 40 million tonnes of coal from a mine in Neath Port Talbot says they are “carefully considering” appealing the decision.

Coal Action Network had challenged the Welsh Government’s refusal to stop the 16 year extension of mining at the Aberpergwm coal mine and the Coal Authority’s refusal to weigh the climate crisis when making its coal licencing decision.


Aberpergwm coal mine

Photo via Google

Last year, the Coal Authority and UK Government Ministers agreed that the Welsh Government could decide the fate of the application to extend the mine under the Wales Act 2017, but the Welsh Government disagreed because the original licence dated back to 1996, and refused to make a decision.

“We’re speaking with our legal team, and are carefully considering appealing this decision,” Daniel Therkelsen from Coal Action Network said.

“It’s unconscionable to permit the Aberpergwm coal mine to operate for the next 16 years, pumping out over 100 million tonnes of CO2 and over a million tonnes of methane.

“The ability for Wales to decide its own future is exactly what the Wales Act 2017 was brought in to do, and we want to see it used to create a more sustainable Wales that supports future generations.

“The Welsh Government has strong policies against coal, but it repeatedly fails to put them into action – whether that’s at Aberpergwm or allowing the ongoing illegal coal mining at Ffos-y-fran, Merthyr Tydfil.

“We think the Judge got it wrong, but the finding that the Coal Authority cannot consider climate change impacts when it licences new coal mining should bolster support for the House of Lords’ Energy Bill amendment to block new coal licences, and we will work to get that passed.”

Climate Change

Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds MS described the ruling as disappointing and “a blow for the fight against climate change.”

“If we are to tackle the climate emergency coal needs to stay in the ground,” she added.

“Just this week the World Meteorological Organisation warned we are now likely to breach a 1.5°c rise by 2027.

“We cannot afford to extract 40 million more tonnes of coal.”

“I will continue to use my voice to call on the Welsh and UK governments to step in and block this expansion. Our future generations depend on it.”

Aberpergwm mine employs over 180 people and is the only producer of high-grade anthracite in western Europe and supplies the nearby Tata Steel plant in Port Talbot.

Energybuild, the company which own the mine, welcomed the decision and said:  “We are fully committed to working with both the local authority and the Senedd to transform our operation to a carbon neutral undertaking.”

The Welsh government said it would continue to consider what practical implications Friday’s ruling may have for the colliery.