Environmentalists celebrate U-turns on coal mine and gas plant

Green campaigners had two wins in two days.

Climate change campaigners are celebrating after two gas power plants were cancelled the day after a local council U-turned on support for a new coal mine.

On Tuesday, Cumbria County Council said it was reviewing its support for a widely-criticised new coal mine. The next day, a power company in Yorkshire suggested it would not build two gas-fired power plants.

As revealed by Left Foot Forward, Cumbria’s coal mine was proposed by a firm ultimately-owned in the Cayman Islands.

Its contribution to climate change has been criticised by environmentalists like Greta Thunberg and a government official from Fiji, which is vulnerable to climate change’s rising sea levels.

Cumbrians have also criticised the proposal. Local Green Party chair Jill Perry said it risked bringing up nuclear waste, ruining local scenery and birds’ habitats and creating only insecure jobs.

Perry called for the government to create green jobs in Cumbria in areas like home insulation, clean heating, public transport and organic farming.

While Cumbria County Council said its review was because of new evidence from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), activists said it was because of political pressure.

The day after the Cumbrian announcement, Yorkshire power company Drax’s chief executive said that plans to turn two retiring coal power into gas power plants were a “legacy” project, inherited from the firm’s previous boss. More details will be revealed by the end of the month, he said.

Drax’s gas power plants had been unsucesfully challenged in court by environmental lawyers ClientEarth. They celebrated the news, calling it “a massive win for the UK and its net zero goals”.

ClientEarth lawyer Sam Hunter Jones added: “Drax must also explain how the rest of its business squares with a sustainable net zero future, given the serious concerns about the climate and biodiversity impact of burning huge volumes of wood for biomass energy at Selby.”

While biofuels like wood are renewable energy sources, the process of cutting down, shredding and transpoting trees uses a lot of energy and campaigners say solar and wind power are greener options.

Joe Lo is a co-editor of Left Foot Forward

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