Coal phase-out must mean urgent closure of all coal power stations, including Drax, campaigners say

Photo: Chris Allen

Photo: Chris Allen

Press release by Biofuelwatch, Coal Action Network and Partnership for Policy Integrity, 18 November 2015

For immediate release

COAL PHASE-OUT MUST MEAN URGENT CLOSURE OF ALL COAL POWER STATIONS, INCLUDING DRAX, CAMPAIGNERS SAY

 No mention of biomass electricity in Amber Rudd speech, despite high carbon emissions

Amber Rudd’s announcement [1] that the government aims for a gradual replacement of coal power stations with ones burning gas, without any firm commitment on the timescale, has been condemned by environmental groups in the UK and US [2].  Campaigners are also dismayed that Amber Rudd commits the Government to further curbing support for onshore wind and solar power, but not for biomass electricity, which is linked to high carbon emissions and forest destruction.

The announcement makes it clear that energy security and household bills are the top priority for the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, with climate change being downgraded to a lesser priority.

Almuth Ernsting, spokesperson for Biofuelwatch [3], said, “The UK claims to be leading the way in taking steps to reduce carbon emissions, but this new announcement makes it clear that climate change has very low priority in the Department of Energy and Climate Change. This announcement is a disaster for the climate, and puts the UK in a very weak position in the climate talks in Paris in a couple of weeks.”

Anne Harris, campaigner with the Coal Action Network [4] said: ” We are very disappointed with Amber Rudd’s announcement. In Russia and Colombia entire villages are being destroyed, livelihoods ruined and ecosystems devastated to feed UK coal fired power stations. At home communities are fighting hard to prevent opencast coal mines from destroying the countryside. We agree that we “need to act now” and so phase out coal in a much shorter time frame than in this announcement.”

Mary Booth, Director of Partnership for Policy Integrity [5], a US campaign group working on energy policy, added, “Replacing coal with gas will simply lock the UK into burning fossil fuels in the long term. At the same time, the government is continuing to guarantee huge subsidies to Drax power station to burn biomass, which is just as bad as coal in terms of carbon emissions. We’re calling on Amber Rudd to commit to closing Drax, and to refuse to give subsidies for burning biomass anywhere in the UK.”[6]

Contact: Almuth Ernsting, Biofuelwatch.  0131- 6232600, biofuelwatch@ymail.com

Notes to editors

[1] https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/amber-rudds-speech-on-a-new-direction-for-uk-energy-policy

[2] There is no firm commitment to closing coal-fired power stations, with Amber Rudd stating that closure will depend on whether the shift to gas can be achieved by the target date of 2025.  A consultation about a coal phase-out will be opened in spring 2016.

[3] http://www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/

[4] http://coalaction.org.uk/

[5] http://www.pfpi.net/

[6] See http://www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/axedrax-campaign/#2 and http://pfpi.net/carbon-emissions

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