The Welsh Liberal Democrats have called on the UK Government to act immediately to prevent the potential expansion of the Aberpergwm Coal Mine in the Neath Valley.
The UK Coal Authority is reportedly close to making a decision over the expansion of the Aberpergwm Colliery. The potential expansion plans come despite pledges by the UK Government during the Cop26 climate conference to move away from coal. The UK Conservative Government has already faced criticism over its refusal so far to veto a new coal mine in Cumbria and the Cambo Oil Field.
The potential expansion has also sparked yet another row between ministers in Whitehall and Cardiff Bay over devolution, with the Welsh Government accusing the UK Government of ignoring its wishes on the permit for the Mine.
Calling for the expansion of the Mine to receive an immediate veto from the UK Government, Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds MS said:
“This project is totally unsuitable for a modern Wales that is seeking to do its part to stop climate change and build a future that is safe and sustainable for younger generations.
“Coal remains the dirtiest form of power on the planet and a new mine will result in new emissions being released at precisely the vital moment we are urgently trying to cut them.
“The pollution caused by coal mining and the burning of coal is utterly is unacceptable in the 21st century when a whole range of cleaner alternatives exist. Not only is coal a pollutant, but the process of mining also contributes heavily to water pollution and can lower water tables, damaging surrounding wildlife, farmlands and drinking water supplies.
“We also know that coal mining and the burning of coal is harmful not only to our planet but also to our health, with a clear link between pollution from the burning and mining of coal to lung cancer and a range of respiratory illnesses.
“It is simply absolute madness that the UK has just hosted the COP26 climate summit where it committed to the phasing out of coal, but has not stepped in to veto a new mine opening here in South Wales – you simply couldn’t make it up.
“What the Government should be doing, is investing in the jobs and skills of the future, not the past, including in high-skilled, high-tech green jobs that will provide long-term financial security.
“It is shameful that once again the Conservatives are riding roughshod over devolution in this case. The people of Wales now must unite in the campaign against this mine and show the Conservative Government that Wales deserves to be at the forefront of the fight against climate change and the green economy, not saddled with relics from the past.
“We must leave a better world for our young than we are currently set to, and a vital part of that is leaving fossil fuels in the ground.”