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The Coal Question and the Bradley Public Inquiry

Steve Leary | 05.10.2014 13:05 | Climate Chaos | Energy Crisis | Social Struggles | London | Oxford

Investors since may 2013 have been receiving warnings about not investing in Fossil Fuel Utility Companies. This press release recounts these warnings and explains why it may influence the outcome of the Bradley Public Inquiry into UK Coal's appeal over Durham County Council's rejection of an opencast mine application



Recently, a North East newspaper published a news item entitled ‘King Coal is becoming King Canute’, say industry analyst’. In the article which reported on a warning from the Carbon Tracker Initiative which said

“ ....that governments and policy makers needed to address coal emissions in order avoid catastrophic climate change, while new technology has the potential to out-compete coal and provide cheap renewable energy.

"Investors need to ask whether the writing is on the wall for coal as constraints continue to be added," warned the report by the financial specialists who assess climate risk and investment...”

This is not just an issue for investors who may live anywhere. It could also affect the local area as the Public Inquiry into the Bradley Surface Mine is about to start. The warning echoes one of the reasons why the Loose Anti Opencast Network (LAON) is objecting to UK Coal’s appeal over the refusal by Durham County Council to grant planning permission to opencast 550,000 tonnes of coal from the Bradley site.

The Carbon Tracker warning is one of the latest Investors have had to digest. Since May last year, there has been a succession of warnings, ever since McKinsey published its ground breaking ‘Disruptive technologies: Advances that will transform life, business, and the global economy’ report, which identified renewable energy and energy storage systems as two of the twelve ‘Disruptive Technologies’ that will transform aspects of our daily lives and have dramatic effects on a variety of industries, including the energy sector. The promise inherent in the adoption of Renewable Energy and Energy Storage technologies, is that the need for coal fired electric power provided from large power stations feeding the Nation Grid, may become redundant in a relatively short period of time according to McKinsey.

Since then, a number of banks, Barclay’s, Morgan Stanley, UBS, Citi Bank, Lazards and HSBC have published similar advice to their investors’ . The Carbon Tracker Initiative’s warning should be seen in the context of all the other warnings.
LAON has already submitted evidence to the Bradley Public Inquiry about the expected decline in demand for coal up to 2020, as old coal fired power stations are closed as they fail to meet new higher emissions standards. Based on DECC figures, it would seem that by 2020 the UK will be producing more coal that it needs. If the warnings for investors are to be believed, then LAON argues that the decline in the demand would be even more rapid than DECC believe.

The Government is taking notice of these developments. In a recent debate in September in the House of Commons, Matt Hancock MP Minister for Energy, Business and Enterprise said
“ I think solar is one of the big opportunities. As the price falls and it becomes competitive—potentially grid competitive—in the short to medium term, solar is a big opportunity, even in cloudy old England.”

Steve Leary, Spokesperson at the forthcoming Public Inquiry which begins on Tuesday said

“ We are living on the cusp of great technological changes, equal for example, to when the motor car replaced the horse as a mode of transport, “

“One of the consequences may well be that less coal will be needed for power generation purposes and this could happen far sooner that people think. The quote from Matt Hancock suggest that ‘shortly’ the cost of solar provided power will be the same as the cost of power being provided by the through the national grid. If coal is becoming redundant, then so too is the need for more and more opencast mines. These technological developments in our view, increase the risk that if the appeal is upheld, by 2020 UK Coal will not have a market for its coal and local people and Durham County Council will be scratching their heads , trying to sort out what to do with a large waterlogged hole."



This is the sixth of a number of press releases LAON will be issuing in the lead up to the Public Inquiry which will explain different parts of LAON’s set of objections. Previous press releases on this topic can be sent if requested. The Public Inquiry begins on Tuesday 7th October in Leadgate Working Men’s Club. Leadgate, Co. Durham

These are news items about the warnings that have been given to investors over the risks associated with investing in Fossil Fuel Utilities

‘King Coal is becoming King Canute, says industry analyst’ (Northern Echo, 22/10/14) @

‘Disruptive technologies: Advances that will transform life, business, and the global economy’, Mckinsey & Company, May 2013, @

‘Disruptive technologies: Advances that will transform life, business, and the global economy’, Mckinsey Global Institute, Chapters 8, Energy Storage and Chapter 12, Renewable Energy, May 2013, downloadable from

‘Barclays Downgrades Electric Utility Bonds, Sees Viable Solar Competition’, Barons, 2/5/14 @ downgrades-electric-utility-bonds-sees-viable-solar-competition/

‘Solar Power & Energy Storage Policy Factors vs Improving Economics’, Morgan Stanley Blue Paper, 28/7/14 @ %20Solar%20Power%20&%20Energy%20Storage%20Blue%20Paper%20Jul y%2029%202014.pdf

‘Big power out, solar in: UBS urges investors to join renewables Revolution’, Guardian, 27/8/14 @ investors-renewables-revolution

‘Energy 2020: The Revolution Will Not Be Televised as Disruptors Multiply’ Citi Group, 28/7/14) @ GAzn7%2feoGJhCRKXBw2LnpF%2bmPt5wCNmiHIw%3d

‘Large green power plants competing with gas, says Lazard’ (Irish Times, 19/9/14 @

‘Fossil Fuel Generator Industry Will Be Hit Hardest by Energy Storage’ (CleanTecnica, 4/10/14) @

Hansard, Sustainable Energy Debate, 4/9/14, Column 415 @


The Pont Valley Network is group of diverse individuals with varied experiences and backgrounds. We understand that as people we don’t always communicate with each other that well. We might disagree or agree with each other for many reasons but we share one thing in common:

We all live or have lived and care for Pont Burn Valley. We recognise its unique heritage and natural beauty and are prepared to work hard to preserve it.

This is a link to their website @

The contact person for the Pont Valley Network is Carole Rooke @ ,


The Loose Anti-Opencast Network (LAON) has been in existence since 2009. It is a UK and Northern Ireland wide network of 30 local community groups opposed to local opencast mine proposals / operations. It functions as a medium through which to oppose open cast mine applications and works with groups where local people feel that such a development is inappropriate.


Steve Leary, LAON’s Spokesperson, at

You can now follow LAON on twitter @


Coal Action Network Whittonstall Action Group, Northumberland, North Pennine Protection Group, Northumberland, Pont Valley Network, Co Durham, Pittington Residents Group Co Durham, Newton Lane Action Group, Leeds, Residents Against Birklands, Gateshead Cowley Residents Group, Sheffield , Skelmansthorpe Action Group, Kirklees Shortwood Farm Opencast Opposition, Nottinghamshire, West Hallum Environment Group, Derbyshire, Smalley Action Group, Derbyshire, Hilltop Action Group, Derbyshire, Minorca Opencast Protest Group, Leicestershire, Campaign Against Great Oak Opencast, Staffordshire, Stop Opencast at Sharlston, Wakefield and Alumwell Action Group. Walsall Just Say No to Lignite, N Ireland, Coal Action Scotland Mining and Environment Group, East Ayrshire Saline Parish Hub, Fife Stop Cauldhall Opencast, Midlothian

Steve Leary
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