Mining coal is the greenest option for the UK, says Mansfield MP
Coal has been in the news this week and, given Mansfield’s history, it has peaked the interest of some local residents, who have been asking me questions about the new proposed Woodhouse Colliery coal mining project in Cumbria.
The idea of burning coal seems to have become controversial these days, with the ‘green agenda’ being increasingly a priority.
But in this particular case opening up a new coal mine is actually the greenest thing we can do.
Many local people will know that there are different kinds of coal.
Britain is committed to phasing out the use of thermal coal in power plants by 2025 and may actually succeed in ahead of schedule.
But the fact is, even renewable energy technologies need steel.
In truth, steel underpins each of the renewable energy technologies that we need to hit the ambitious net zero carbon target.
Mining of coking coal – the kind used for steel – is therefore really important for Britain’s net zero commitments.
There is no commercial alternative on the horizon for the steel-making process, we need the coal.
As things stand, we're importing this stuff from mines in third world countries where people are dying whilst extracting it in awful conditions.
Then we are shipping it around the world chucking carbon out all over the place, but critics of mining don’t seem to be bearing these things in mind.
We have the coal here in Britain, we can extract it in a more environmentally-friendly way and with better working rights and conditions.
That’s before I even get on to the economic and job creation benefits for the UK.
We can't do net zero without steel, and we can’t do steel ourselves without coking coal, which is why opening this new coal mine fits with the green agenda.
We cannot pat ourselves on the back for a job well done on net zero in 2050 if, in truth, all we have done is offshore our emissions to third world countries, with them burning all the fossils fuels instead of us.
That doesn’t help anyone.
We can do it cleaner, greener and in a way that both protects workers and creates jobs.
Ben Bradley is MP for Mansfield.