Coal mining 'banned' in new plans to 'draw a line' under industry

The Scottish Greens declared the era of coal 'over' after announcing a no support motion for any new mines.

Scotland moves to ‘ban’ coal mining as Greens ‘draw a line’ under industry iStock

Coal mining is to be effectively banned in Scotland under new rules governing the creation of future extraction points.

Scottish Greens co-leader Lorna Slater said Holyrood will take a position of “no support” should any plans for the country’s first mine in 20 years be brought forward.

Speaking at the party’s Autumn conference, Slater said the “era of coal [was] over,” adding it was time to “draw a line” under the industry and look for greener alternatives.

There are no active coal mines in Scotland and the last coal power station closed in 2016, but the Coal Authority has granted a conditional licence for mining in a geographic area which covers Cumbria and Dumfries & Galloway.

Any move to create a new mine would require planning permission, but Slater said that would not be supported by the Scottish Government.

“I can announce that the Scottish Government is adopting our preferred position of no support for coal extraction in Scotland,” she told the conference in Dundee.

“Scotland, the country that helped bring the coal-fired industrial revolution to the world, has drawn a line.

“The era of coal is over and I’m calling on the UK Government to follow us, to make the right call for once, to ban coal extraction for good.”

At its peak, over 700,000 people were employed by the coal industry in the UK – around 80,000 of whom worked in Scotland.

Numbers tumbled by the start of the 1990s to just 6,000 and the last active deep mine in the country, in Longannet, Fife, closed in March 2002.

The ban has been welcomed by environmental campaigners.

Friends of the Earth Scotland’s head of campaigns Mary Church said: “It is the right decision for the Scottish Government to want to shut the door on coal once and for all.

“Climate science is clear that there is no space for any new fossil fuels, let alone the most polluting coal, if we are to avoid truly catastrophic warming.

“The Scottish Government must seize this opportunity to ensure a fast and fair transition to a reliable, affordable energy system powered by renewables and run in the public interest.”

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