The Coal Industry is Nostalgic but Archaic: Here’s why it should stay that way

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The last shift at Kellingley Colliery, 2015

The news that a deep coalmine is set to open in the UK for the first time in 30 years has been greeted with outrage from environmentalist groups.

The £165 million development plan in Woodhaven, Cumbria, was approved by councillors representing Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats with the presupposition it will bring ‘vital’ investment to the surrounding area. Money and jobs will both be a welcome injection to this part of Cumbria yet returning underground to dig coal is a somewhat archaic way to boost a local economy.

The UK coal industry once employed over a million workers at the start of the 20th century, yet by the 1980's movement to cleaner energy had made the need for coal almost obsolete. The Conservative government and National Coal Board closed mines at a rapid rate and once Kellingley Colliery in Yorkshire closed for the final time in 2015 it signalled the end of deep coal mining in the UK. The plans of the prospective colliery in Woodhaven would restart the industry, but in the long run it seems a futile gesture.

Coal once powered the UK almost unopposed and to sink a new colliery would have a certain charm to it. However, coal is an archaic fuel source. The government crushed the spirit of coal-mining communities during and in the aftermath of the 1984–85 miners’ strike to put an end to the nation’s reliance on coal. Granted, the government went about defeating the miners in a manner most appalling and it left hundreds of thousands of people affected. Unfortunately, a new coalmine will do little to help the wounds of those affected by actions on the picket line in the 1980s. everyone and everything needs to move on for the good of the planet.

With many experts stating that we have just 12 years to tackle climate change before the Earth reaches an irreversible point. The need to search for cleaner fuel alternatives is greater than ever. Mining a fossil fuel which is notoriously bad for the environment seems illogical and impractical in the modern era. 500 jobs are set to be created at the colliery, yet the financial and environmental cost of the pit should force planners to at least reconsider the value of reintroducing coal mining to the UK.

With the advancement in technology and fuel alternatives it seems surprising and unnecessary to throw resources at an antiquated fuel source. There are millions of tons of coal remaining underground across the country but even if an economic method of extracting it could be found, the world is increasingly realising that using coal as a fuel is not possible in the modern day.

The UK has a proud mining tradition, but it should remain no more than a part of history. The future needs to be green and although it has its elements of romanticism and nostalgia, opening this new coalmine will offer little to the UK economy and do damage to the ecology of Woodhaven and the surrounding area.

Coal’s time as the UK’s premier fuel source has gone and although it is important to remember the history of the industry and the proud people who once powered the country, a fuel which is less damaging for the environment is better going forward into the future.

I am a journalist with an honours degree from Coventry University. Passionate writing about politics, culture, sport, society and more

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