The plight of the coal industry

The third of the commanding heights of the 1940s economy to  be nationalised alongside steel and rail was the coal industry. It employed 700,000 employees in the later 1940s, producing around 200 million tonnes of coal a year. The number of employees slumped to just 235,000 by 1979. Many of the employees lost their jobs under Labour governments, who accepted a large number of pit closures as the industry  struggled with costs and falling demand. More job losses followed in the 1980s and 1990s, along with a bitter strike about whether individual pits could be economic or were exhausted.

Today there is no deep mined coal produced in the UK, and a very small opencast coal industry. We now import most of the reduced amount of coal we do need. An industry employing well over 700,000 at peak has all but disappeared. It was nationalised for most of the post war period, but this did nothing to arrest the long term decline. Indeed, there were occasions when the nationalised management took too pessimistic a view of the economic prospects for individual pits. I remember helping the miners at Tower Colliery take over their mine from the NCB when the NCB said it had to shut for economic reasons, and go on to make a success of mining more coal from it for many years.

The nationalised concern did have substantial investment programmes from time to time, developing a range of new super pits with better machinery and operating at larger scale. None of this arrested the long term decline in coal use and coal output. More recently governments have turned anti coal on environmental grounds.

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119 Comments

  1. Sir Joe Soap
    Posted January 12, 2018 at 5:49 am | Permalink

    Goverments have turned anti-coal?
    You mean the UK government has, in closing all coal fired power stations by 2025.

    40% of Germany’s power still comes from burning dirty lignite.
    Japan is opening 49 new power stations to replace nuclear.

    Perhaps the time has come to take the moral high ground and inject some environmental constraints into those EU negotiations on trade? Should we be a net importer of cars from a country which then sends its dirty lignite fumes over here along with its trade imbalance?

    • Mark B
      Posted January 12, 2018 at 8:18 am | Permalink

      Very good idea with regard to charging countries extra regarding the fuels they use to produce their products. One I would like to see done after we have left the EU. We can then, hopefully, negotiate from a position of strength and possibly with a PM that knows what they are doing, on improving better trading terms with the EU.

      • Hope
        Posted January 12, 2018 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

        Trump is,putting his miners in Virginia in,safe jobs, he has more Hispanic employed than before, more African Americans in work than ever before, refused the Paris Climate Change agreement- EU agenda, he has implemented his vetting on people from ththe watch list of countries that Obama created, he is getting rid of Obama care, he is putting his citizens first second and last. He is cutting taxes and delivering on all pledges made to get in office.

        Contrast and compare with capitulating May! She wants to talk about an EU directive on plastic bags on a day when the NHS is in dire straights and worse record since 2003! Mass immigration crisis affecting every aspect of public service and our way of life including no houses for our own citizens! Despite this Rudd writes an op n letter to EU citizens invit No their families here! Another 20 million at least! This is before a revised immigration policy or so called noth No is agreed until everything is agreed! If true how could Rudd write such a letter? JR and colleagues remain silent while social engineering May tries to implement her cultural Marxism who has is of little interest othe vast majority of the public. In fact the vast majority are against her gender neutral ideas as it causes embarrassment, lack of dignity for elderly and she forgets there has always been genuine occupation qualification to maintain personal dignity while in a state of undress. Get rid of May.

  2. Mike Stallard
    Posted January 12, 2018 at 6:28 am | Permalink

    Coal produces only a fraction of our electricity. It used to produce a lot.
    Why, please, are the gas turbines which produce the electricity regularly, or indeed the ancient nuclear stations any better?
    And please could the BBC do a programme setting out the whole argument on global warming?

    • Mark B
      Posted January 12, 2018 at 8:19 am | Permalink

      It also use to heat our homes, drive machinery etc.

      • getahead
        Posted January 12, 2018 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

        Mike Stallard, I would guess that one reason gas is preferred to coal, apart from it being “cleaner” is that it is easier to move around.
        I believe, on another tack, that with all the coal we still have underground in Britain, coal should be exploited more.

        • getahead
          Posted January 12, 2018 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

          Picked up on Rien Huizer’s comment below that “Coal from domestic sources would be vastly more expensive, even with the most modern technology. Too deep.”
          How deep is too deep I wonder.

    • Bob
      Posted January 12, 2018 at 8:55 am | Permalink

      “And please could the BBC do a programme setting out the whole argument on global warming?”

      They won’t allow any sceptics a platform so it would be rather one sided.

      When they had the 28 Gate meeting where they decided that the science was settled, their head of comedy was one of the 28 attendees , so perhaps the program could be classified as comedy rather than science.

      In reality, the issue has been politicised to the extent that scientists don’t speak against for fear of the career curtailment that ensues, as we saw with David Bellamy.

      • mancunius
        Posted January 13, 2018 at 12:27 am | Permalink

        Bob, I’d surmise that the reason the Head of Comedy was invited to that BBC meeting in 2006 was probably to ensure that no comedies or comic remarks even faintly critical of the climate change agenda would ever in the future be allowed on BBC Radio or TV.

        It is interesting that since 2006, no comedies – not even ‘W1A’ have made any joke – not even the most glancing reference – to global warming, or to the BBC’s notorious obsession with it.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 12, 2018 at 9:09 am | Permalink

      The BBC is totally incapable of being balanced, logical or scientific on this matter. They work by emotion and film footage of polar bears and the likes. The BBC have virtually banned climate realists from the air waves by claiming “the science is settled”.

      Roger Harrabin, a Catz English Graduate, just endless repeats propaganda from the climate alarmists, academic research grant seekers, government and the energy subsidy farming industries. Never does it seem to be questioned or cross examined.

      Almost anything bad in the world is attributed to “Climate Change”, BREXIT or both. The climate has always changed and always will. A bit warmer is certainly better on balance that a bit colder. World climate is a hugely chaotic system with thousands of variable and inputs most are unpredictable.

      CO2 levels are certainly not some World thermostat. The warming over the past 100 years is not remotely abnormal and there has been no significant warming for nearly 20 years now despite increased CO2. It the theory does not agree with experiment it is wrong as Richard Feynman put it.

      It is just another bonkers new religion pretending to be based on science. It suits government as an excuse to tax even more. It has the usual characteristics of a religion. Do this today (or else), and give the church some money and everything will be OK for you and your children tomorrow. Even the school and exam syllabus is full of propaganda and duff science on this issue.

      • Dan H.
        Posted January 12, 2018 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

        CO2, also known as plant food, is an essential gas in the atmosphere. Increasing the levels a bit actually helps make deserts greener since plants can tolerate dry conditions better if the CO2 levels are higher.

        The climate models at present make predictions for what certain levels of CO2 should do to the atmosphere that do not agree with what is actually observably happening. When one’s model disagrees with reality, there is a problem there and to put it mildly, the fault does not lie with reality.

        So, silly legal restrictions on CO2 output shouldn’t really be imposed until we actually know if they are necessary, and until we have a credible alternative to the coal-fired electricity generation.

        Lots of small modular nuclear reactors of the sort which have safely powered ships and submarines for many years would be one possible solution, as would newer reactor designs which use thorium as their main fuel as opposed to uranium/plutonium.

        However, until we have a solution, let’s not ban the existing systems, eh?

      • getahead
        Posted January 12, 2018 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

        “The BBC is totally incapable of being balanced, logical or scientific on this matter.”
        Or any matter Ll.

    • acorn
      Posted January 12, 2018 at 9:21 am | Permalink

      It is worth having a read of Energy Trends https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/669750/Energy_Trends_December_2017.pdf Particularly Sections 4 & 5.

      There is a worrying bit, “As a result, LNG imports accounted for less than 20 per cent of total imports compared with 40 per cent during Q3 2016. The decreases in LNG imports were driven by a contraction in LNG supplies from Qatar to the UK, due in part to high LNG demand from other countries.”

      The UK will be increasingly dependent on energy imports and tankers get diverted on the high sees for a better price.

      • a-tracy
        Posted January 12, 2018 at 11:58 am | Permalink

        Perhaps our children that are paying to study at Oxford, Cambridge the Russell Group and other leading Universities are actually studying subjects to fix our energy needs for the future acorn, we don’t have to be negative all the time. We should be asking our main institutions just what are you doing about it? What professors are travelling to the world to learn the new breakthroughs and setting up teams to deal with future needs. We can’t keep looking back at old Industries and asking what if, people didn’t like working in mines, it killed people, gave them lung problems, let’s just move on – move forward.

        • alan jutson
          Posted January 12, 2018 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

          a-tracy

          Unfortunately in my experience most in the education industry always seem to complain, or want to ban existing actions, services, and working practices, but offer few workable and sensible suggestions or alternatives.

          So easy to be a so called expert with hindsight, lay blame and complain, but then offer nothing tangible in return.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted January 12, 2018 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

          Well the laws of physic have not changed I understand. You could argue that wind power (which was largely replaced by more efficient and reliable steam, coal, gas, electricity is just looking backwards to the windmills.

          Perhaps 10% “of our children that are paying to study at Oxford, Cambridge the Russell Group and other leading Universities are actually studying subjects to fix our energy needs for the future”. T

          he rest are probably studying things like PPE, theology, diversity studies or even climate alarmism.

          Also many of the STEM people are being misled by the fact that government research grants almost all go almost exclusively to greencrap and climate alarmist research. Some science students I meet at Cambridge have fallen for it hook line and sinker. Not usually the Physics/Maths ones who tend more to the Matt Ridley Luke Warmist agenda as I do.

          • Iain Gill
            Posted January 13, 2018 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

            Don’t forget women’s studies, that fake science bastion.

        • mancunius
          Posted January 13, 2018 at 12:34 am | Permalink

          Climate change ‘Professors’ are constantly criss-crossing the world in jumbo jets, in their quest for the perfect airline and most comfortable conference hotel.
          That must be of immense benefit to the eco-system.

      • Mitchel
        Posted January 12, 2018 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

        There’s always Russia’s new Yamal field,fully equipped for LNG export(including a fleet of icebreaker supertankers) if we ask nicely and are willing to pay the right price.

        I see from your stats that coal imports from Russia are surging again(by far the largest source of UK coal supply in those figures).It’s no wonder that when May,Boris et al try to give them a ticking off,they laugh so hard their samovars rattle!

        (Don’t mention the sanctions!)

    • Rien Huizer
      Posted January 12, 2018 at 9:42 am | Permalink

      Wind and solar areboth getting less expensive but a country (especially an archipelago) needs “base load” power as well, and that would be nuclear (nothing wrong with well managed nuclear but it is very expensive) gas or coal. The UK should have plenty of gas if fracking would be allowed (and would have to be allowed under a US FTA protecting US investors) so the nationalists might have a little trophy here. Coal from domestic sources would be vastly more expensive, even with the most modern technology. Too deep.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted January 12, 2018 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

        “Wind and solar are both getting less expensive” – well slightly, but the power is still intermittent and is thus worth far less than on demand power from Coal, Gas or Oil.

        The laws of physic and economics for Solar, PV and wind remain. When there work without subsidy fine, but kill the subsidies and rigged market for so called “renewables” now. It is just pissing money (and jobs and whole industries) down the drain.

    • NickC
      Posted January 12, 2018 at 11:29 am | Permalink

      Mike, You trust the BBC to set out “the whole argument on global warming”? Really? The BBC is the main MSM propagandist for the CAGW (Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming) meme. The BBC couldn’t be more biased if it tried.

      The reasons there are a mix of methods of generating electricity is a combination of: historical; strategic; political; and practical reasons.

      Coal is a dirty fuel producing NOx, SOx, as well as soot and CO2. Gas is clean, producing only CO2 and water. Moreover CCGT is the most efficient, low maintenance, and cost-effective method we have. Gas is also flexible: it can be turned on and off relatively quickly (at a cost). Wind and Solar would be insignificant without taxpayer subsidies.

      • stred
        Posted January 12, 2018 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

        http://www.mygridgb.co.uk/last-48-hours/

        Coal was producing 12% of our electricity over the last 2 days, with wind, solar and biomass around 5%.

        Other nuclear power stations, being built around the world, are producing electricity for around £70/MWh and can be up and running in 7 years. Only the one chosen by May is going to cost over £100 after inflation and a much longer construction time.

        The OPEC/Russia action looks like it is sending oil prices up, as China and India use more oil and gas. The Russians sent their first delivery of gas from the new Arctic terminal to help us make up for the damaged N.Sea pipeline. Gas is going to get expensive. But hey, the green boys and girls think we can manage by building lots of windmills in the sea.

        The UK and US reduced their CO2 content of electricity from 550 to around 270 in 10 years by using more gas and less coal with a little wind and solar and assuming that wood pellets from the US were zero, which they aren’t. Germany increased its CO2 to 550.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted January 12, 2018 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

        The BBC clearly are trying to be as biased as possible.

        Certainly Gas CCGT is the best way to go in the short to medium term some nuclear (but not Hinckley C) and get fracking.

      • Andy
        Posted January 12, 2018 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

        This debate shows why the Tories are irrelevant to most young people.

        When the environment is the number 1 issue for younger people we have no interest in listening to the irrational rantings of fossil fuel burning climate change deniers.

        • NickC
          Posted January 13, 2018 at 10:43 am | Permalink

          Andy, Your comment shows why young people’s opinions are irrelevant to most of the rest of us.

          Assuming you talk for young people in general (when did you get elected by the way?) you are simply regurgitating the environmentalist religion you have swallowed at school, apparently without engaging brain.

          The chemicals needed to make solar and wind components (eg magnets) are highly toxic. By comparison Gas burning is not just benign, it is beneficial (more CO2 plant food).

        • alan jutson
          Posted January 13, 2018 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

          Andy

          Nothing wrong with being young, adventurous and positive.

          But:

          History and human nature shows that most people who have little, tend to support a socialism system until they themselves start to generate some wealth and responsibility, when they then become to a degree more capitalist/conservative in outlook, then when they get older and are pensioners and are less well-off and less fit, start to look at a more conservative type of socialism.

          You only find that out as you mature, so thank goodness those with such wisdom turned out in force to vote Leave, and also to keep Jeremy out of Government for as long as possible.

          Afraid life is about a number of complex issues which on many occasions inter relate to each other.

          Go Completely green, (not an unreasonable thought) providing YOU are prepared to pay for it in many ways, and understand that you will put others out of work when we cannot compete with others on price.

      • getahead
        Posted January 12, 2018 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

        Combined Cycle Gas Turbines

  3. BlakeS
    Posted January 12, 2018 at 6:43 am | Permalink

    Whats the matter JR did you get your orders from central command to lay off talking about current matters..one day now we have production..thentransportation and the steel industry and now coal..what a drip you are to be following their agenda.

    Reply Of course not.
    The future of coal and nationalisation are issues on the modern agenda. We have also talked about the reshuffle this week.

    • Sir Joe Soap
      Posted January 12, 2018 at 8:18 am | Permalink

      Indeed, and the reshuffle didn’t bear talking about.
      What does bear mentioning, however, is the way that with Mrs May’s dithering and hesitant on-off invites has now come the President of the US presumably thinking she’s not worth meeting here or talking to. She talks too much drivel for his straight talking approach.

      • Bert Young
        Posted January 12, 2018 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

        Bears can roar !!

    • Richard1
      Posted January 12, 2018 at 8:47 am | Permalink

      This Discussion is highly relevant as the Labour Party under Corbyn are, amazingly, proposing mass nationalisation. So it’s good to be reminded what an unmitigated disaster nationalisation was in the U.K. (and elsewhere).

      • eeyore
        Posted January 12, 2018 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

        Not just mass nationalisation is threatened but mass expropriation too. We who have shares in the targeted companies will be forced to exchange them for government paper. The value of our assets and the terms of the “loan” will be decided solely by Mr McDonnell and his aides.

        As assets are protected by law against theft by rapacious governments, the courts would have to be packed and the judges suborned or terrorised.

        By comparison, mere nationalisation would be almost trivial.

        • Richard1
          Posted January 13, 2018 at 12:18 am | Permalink

          Indeed. It is worth noting that expropriation of financial assets in exchange for government paper (which subsequently collapsed in value) was the method of nationalisation used by Mugabe in Zimbabwe in the 1980s. That’s how socialists work.

      • Dan H.
        Posted January 12, 2018 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

        As has been noted elsewhere, Corbyn is a plague whose presence even in potentia is having a deleterious effect on our economy. He and his colleagues propose expropriation of assets on a grand scale, with the government paying what it deems to be fair for an asset regardless of market price.

        This counts as legalised theft, and I rather think that Mr Corbyn, mired as they are in a very Seventies mindset, will be quite amazed at how nimble and speedy financial organisations can be when their assets are threatened. Should Corbyn come to power (or even look like he might), I would expect a sudden spike in gold prices combined with extremely rapid off-shoring of UK-held assets. A vast proportion of the UK tax-base would run for the hills overnight, leaving a baffled Marxist wondering why Karl never predicted that this would happen.

        Frankly, Corbyn would be better off following the teachings of Groucho Marx for economic theory; at least the latter consistently made money and hung onto it!

      • mancunius
        Posted January 13, 2018 at 12:40 am | Permalink

        Quite. Personally, I’m really pleased that JR tackles these vital subjects regardless of what the point-scoring polit-commentariat thinks is ‘relevant right now’. Little can be more relevant than our energy needs, and the manner and cost at which they’re delivered.

    • Hope
      Posted January 12, 2018 at 10:20 am | Permalink

      It would be interesting to have a blog: why May capitulated in phase one of her talks to give the EU vast amounts of taxpayers money, ECJ jurisdiction over citizens in this country, freedom of movement by another name further encouraged by Rudd, and staying in the single market and customs union by regulatory alignment. Second question, why did May stand by her red lines as set out in her Lancaster speech heralded by Tory MPs?

      • Man of Kent
        Posted January 12, 2018 at 11:45 am | Permalink

        But ‘nothing is agreed until all is agreed ‘ is now the cover for staying in the single market and customs union .
        Unfortunately I cannot see a way out of this signed up commitment .
        It is the basis for proceeding with the Part 2 trade talks .

        In Ireland over Christmas the political class were very pleased with themselves that they and the EU had secured this deal and their trade balance of Euro 21bn with us remains intact .
        The alternative for them would be to confront the smuggling across the border of low cost food and/or the displacement of their exports with low cost Commonwealth Imports .

        How on earth do we get out of this ?
        Will we simply have to give up the notion of trade deals with anyone else ?

      • Chris
        Posted January 12, 2018 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

        What so many fail to realise is that the terms agreed so far will be in stone once the final steps of the negotiation are finished. Nothing is agreed till everything is agreed does not mask that. May has already agreed to a sell out, or a “complete capitulation” as Charles Moore termed it, and that will come into force when the other parts of the negotiation are sorted out. The earlier agreement reached will not change. It would, however, be ditched if we were simply to walk away.

        So, Leavers, the damage has already been done by Theresa May.

      • Hope
        Posted January 12, 2018 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

        …Not stand by her red lines.

        May has not stated what red lines the EU caved in on, why if there was an alleged compromise?

        Biggest mistake making an enemy of Trump. Someone who publicly stated to help and trade with us given up for the EU pro lef agenda of May! Oust her now she is an utter disaster.

    • jerry
      Posted January 12, 2018 at 10:37 am | Permalink

      @JR reply; I take it then, tomorrow you will be debating the biggest post WW2 nationalisation of them all, the NHS – and far more topical than King Coal…

      In the modern world, coal is not on the agenda here in the UK (at least not under a Tory govt. and probably not under Labour either) thus it is only on the “modern agenda” if you fear the march of “Corbynomics” and need a few more political brickbats, thus your post today raking over an old illogical war says far more about the current Tory party than anything about coal … you are all running scared, very scared, because we all know what the first Public Enquiry Mr Corbyn will announce after cycling up Downing Street don’t we?!

  4. Leslie Singleton
    Posted January 12, 2018 at 7:08 am | Permalink

    Dear John–Did anybody ever suss out how the Germans manage to continue with–indeed to increase output of–their coal, and coal dirtier than ours at that? Seems to me our governments made and continue to make very much the wrong decisions. The whelk-stall individual-pit bean-counting mentality that decided that scrubbing coal and undersea carbon dioxide storage are too expensive, somehow couldn’t grasp that the approach we took instead, viz being pure as the driven snow and finding clever ways to make energy more expensive generally is, it wouldn’t surprise me, ten times more expensive but spread over the whole economy so immeasurable–and doing a fair job of destroying it. Baloney anyway because our contribution to carbon dioxide levels is negligible. Is this what they call virtue signalling–earning knighthoods?

  5. APL
    Posted January 12, 2018 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    JR: “The third of the commanding heights of the 1940s economy to be nationalised alongside steel and rail was the coal industry.”

    The coal industry of course isn’t green, therefore its run down and eventual closure was entirely in line with your former leaders ‘green’ philosophy ( and to be fair the Uni Party too, Tony Ben presided over the closure of more than his fair share of mines. ) That philosophy that dictates you should generate your own electricity by putting a windmill on the eves of one’s rather spacious house, rather than use that produced by the countries established electricity generating industry.

    Good riddance, dirty coal and all the dirty jobs that went with its extraction.

    • Mark B
      Posted January 12, 2018 at 8:20 am | Permalink

      And not to forget the communities (how I hate that word) that went with it.

      /sarc

      • Mactheknife
        Posted January 15, 2018 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

        If you live in one of those “communities” towns or cities that had a coal industry and was decimated when it closed, there is no room for sarcasm. People’s lives were ruined, our area went from virtually full employment to one of the highest rates in the country within months. Social deprivation followed and the Conservative government of the day had no plan as to what happens next. The truth is that it was about class warfare and getting the unions under control as much as making an industry competitive. The unions also played their part in seeing off coal as well.
        John has never really answered the question over why the government had no plan for those affected by closures, nor does he respond when people point out the perilous state of our energy security – we rely on wind (when it blows) imported LNG (if the supplier has capacity) underground storage (we have 5 days gas supply when Germany say has 100+ days). In the meantime we have Shale and Coal which other industrialised nations are moving forward on but we are worrying about greater issues such as plastic bags and bottles /sarc

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 12, 2018 at 8:39 am | Permalink

      We all know that the government cannot run anything efficiently
      and further that they inconvenience, regulate and tax often to death others who do.

      Coal does not have to be very dirty and carbon dioxide (harmless tree and plant food) is neither dirty nor is it pollution. It is vital to life on the planet. Anyway just exporting industry & production to other coal burning nations like China clearly has no overall saving on emissions.

      Where is the logic allowing us to burn new wood (expensive bio fuels even shipped round the world for UK power stations) but not old wood that has already turned into coal? Both give out the same CO2 after all. If it is such a problem this wood/biofuel should all be stored to preventing .

      A wind turbine (of tax payer subsidy farm) on the eaves of your house producing tiny amounts of intermittent energy is scientific and economic lunacy. Especially in non windy Notting Hill! Wind farms also produce large amounts of CO2 in production.

      Much drivel about a new northern forest and how it will absorb CO2. Perhaps a tiny amount (in the short term). But once a forest is fully establish the forests give out about as much CO2 as they take in. This as trees die and decay and other new trees replace them or in many parts of the world they get forest fires periodically.

      • APL
        Posted January 12, 2018 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

        Lifelogic: “A wind turbine (of tax payer subsidy farm) on the eaves of your house producing tiny amounts of intermittent energy is scientific and economic lunacy.”

        It was symbolism at its worst. About the only thing Cameron was capable of.

        Stroking huskies at the North Pole, good symbolism. Utterly unnecessary flight including press corp, security detail, administrative staff, for photo opportunity, hidden but bad symbolism plus obvious hypocrisy.

        We have children running the country. This generation of politicians have grown up ( actually not ) during a period when all governmental decisions were made by the European Union. Consequently they haven’t got a clue.

        Let’s import some Polish or Czech politicians, you know, to do the jobs British politicians aren’t capable of doing.

    • Rien Huizer
      Posted January 12, 2018 at 9:35 am | Permalink

      Even if the UK government would change policy on coal for power generation, it would not be coal produced in the UK. It would be far more expensive than coal from US, Colombia south Africa or even Australia. Many continental countries are in the process of phasing out coal (and especially lignite). Where is that “Japan opening 48 coal fired etc..” from? The (private) electicity generating industry is struggling with thre transition from nuclear and coal is the alternative favourade by the industry. That will be the cleanest coal technology in the world and the maximum figure is 40 power stations for around a third of total (and declining) electricity consumption. It will be relatively expensive coal power (extensive CO2 capture). So all in all, even if this goes ahead (and keep in mind that Japan does not have access to other countries’ grids for emergencies, like most continental and US locations) that most of these stations will be using non-Japanese coal. So it is pretty irrelevant to this discussion. UK coal is not coming back unless Joe taxpayer prefers coal mining to budget cuts, a luxurious defense establishment or state-owned healthcare, to name a few other ways to handle public finance.

      • APL
        Posted January 12, 2018 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

        Rien Huizer: “It would be far more expensive than coal from US, Colombia south Africa or even Australia. ”

        It’s a point, but I’m not altogether convinced. Much modern day mining could be accomplished by automata. It would be a massive opportunity to produce automated robotic mining machines to extract coal in seams and in geological conditions previously thought uneconomic.

        Robotics has advanced a hundred fold since the seventies. We could have mines where there is hardly anyone under ground, except a few maintenance staff.

    • Iain Gill
      Posted January 12, 2018 at 9:53 am | Permalink

      The problem is the world has not reduced coal use.

      All we have done is pushed the cost of using coal up here, and forced electricity prices up, production costs up here, and forced many manufacturers to move production to China and India where they are not so fussy about anti-pollution measures.

      So we have in fact pushed up net world pollution, by moving production to such countries, and continuing to buy the products produced under such anti pollution regimes. And we have simultaneously thrown many of our own workers out of work.

      Being virute signalling little unilateral anti pollution nutters is not helping new world pollution or the planet. We need to be a lot cleverer and deal with the international realities.

      • Iain Gill
        Posted January 12, 2018 at 9:54 am | Permalink

        should say ” is not helping NET world pollution or the planet”

      • Lifelogic
        Posted January 12, 2018 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

        Indeed but CO2 is not “pollution” in any real sense, any more than oxygen and water are “pollution”. It is plant and tree food and essential to all life on earth.

        The low sensitivity of the climate to CO2 is not a real problem at all. CO2 is greening the planet and anyways a little warmer is a good thing (on balance).

  6. Mark B
    Posted January 12, 2018 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    The demise of King Coal set the scene for the demise of most of British Industry. Coal, iron, slate and tin mining in this country is, difficult, dangerous, dirty and expensive. Factors which have weighed heavily against them.

    As global trade and the size of ships increased, so too did inversly the cost of importing much of either the raw materials or, their finished products.

    What Nationalisation has done his to politicise industry, jobs, wages and society. From this politicization comes political control. Take the minimum wage for example. Smaller producers have to now compete equally on wage terms as larger producers but, overall, larger producers have the economic clout to get cheaper raw materials or goods and, can invest in automation. This has the effect of driving out competition and increasing prices.

    I find it rather annoying that my taxes are being used to subsidise wealthy land owners like the father in law of one of our former PM’s. Yet, we will not subsidies peoples jobs in crucial manufacturing. We sell off vital strategic industries (eg nuclear research) and then import out dated and expensive foreign power station designs.

    You can always see where government has been by the trail of mess it leaves behind.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 12, 2018 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

      Indeed

  7. agricola
    Posted January 12, 2018 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    In my view there has to be a very strong political bias against coal. Is it just a coincidence that the £1 million prize for carbon capture was withdrawn within six months in the UK. Is the government terrified of a viable coal industry.

    A company called Carbon Clean Solutions Ltd based in Chennai (Madras) India ,with the aid of a £4.2 Million grant from the UK, have developed a system that captures 97% of carbon emissions with the possibility of 100% . At a cost of $30 per tonne of captured carbon they turn it into Soda Ash then sell it as an industrial additive to other industries.

    Were I an MP, particularly for one of our major coal mining areas, now defunct, I would be getting on a plane to Chennai with a clued up chemical engineer to investigate this process. Please explain to me why you and your colleagues have been silent on the subject. One begins to smell a rat.

    • bigneil
      Posted January 12, 2018 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

      I wonder if the £4.2m grant came with any claim to the knowledge of the process – -or do we now have to pay to get the benefits of the process we appear to have paid for?
      I suspect the second is nearer the truth. Throwing other people’s money away is easy, when, if you need more you just take it from the taxpayer . . . .again and again

    • stred
      Posted January 12, 2018 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

      https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jan/03/indian-firm-carbon-capture-breakthrough-carbonclean

      It says here that they make baking soda from the CO2 and their office is in London.
      The problem is that if you heat baking soda to make soda ash, CO2 is given off. Same with making cakes. Soda ash used in glass and dying may also put the CO2 back into the atmosphere. Why not just plant some more trees or build nuclear. Apparently, it is difficult to increase and decrease generation to match fluctuating wind in coal stations with theoretically working CCS, which will cost more than nuclear in the rest of the world.

      • stred
        Posted January 12, 2018 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

        There is a pdf report by GWPF on carbon capture called ‘The bottomless pit’.

  8. Ian Wragg
    Posted January 12, 2018 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    Modern coal fired power plants produce cheap and reliable energy but bowing to the alter of climate change we prefer to give huge subsidies to intermittent and inefficient windmills.
    Gas turbines produce less CO2 when run on base load but because preference is given to wind they run at part load thus producing more CO2.
    We sit on hundreds of years of fossil fuel but we prefer power cut rather than energy security.
    Only PPE graduates could countenance such nonesense.

  9. Bert Young
    Posted January 12, 2018 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    Coal blacked faces were common in the area where I spent my school years and during the war being a Bevan Boy was an alternative to the Armed Forces . Coal always was an important ingredient in the supply of energy to the economy ; only recently the nearby Didcot power station closed down as another indication of our changing times .

    • Man of Kent
      Posted January 12, 2018 at 11:56 am | Permalink

      I am sure this was a slip but,Bevin not Bevan .

      Bevan was the founder of the NHS who discovered very early that it could not exist without patient subsidy through prescription charges and described Tories as worse than vermin .

    • Rien Huizer
      Posted January 12, 2018 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

      You must be older than your name suggests.

  10. Duncan
    Posted January 12, 2018 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    We all know nationalisation-public sector is a byword for union power, waste and political cowardice. This is not the issue. The issue is a party, my party, the conservative party that has lost its way under a leader who if we are not careful could potentially open the door to 5 years of the most appalling political, economic and social experimentation the UK has ever witnessed

    It is a disgrace that Tory politicians remain silent on the incompetence but cowardly liberal left politics of THERESA MAY.

    THIS PM IS NOT A CONSERVATIVE POLITICIAN

    • jerry
      Posted January 12, 2018 at 11:57 am | Permalink

      @Duncan; “We all know nationalisation-public sector is a byword for union power, waste and political cowardice.”

      Do “we”….

      Well perhaps most with a hard left/right-wing ideologies do, for the rest of us though it is not so clear, even more so when we look at other (European) countries who seem to prosper with their more moderate centrist policy of union-corporate-government co-operation.

      • libertarian
        Posted January 12, 2018 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

        Jerry

        Other European countries dont have nationalised industries. Its not allowed by the EU. They have state owned industries in competition with private suppliers.

        • jerry
          Posted January 13, 2018 at 10:48 am | Permalink

          libertarian; “They have state owned industries in competition with private suppliers.”

          As the UK did or could have done.

    • Man of Kent
      Posted January 12, 2018 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

      Duncan ,
      Please add ,

      AND NEEDS TO BE CHANGED NOW .

      Is there no one willing to challenge her ?

    • Chris
      Posted January 12, 2018 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

      I would completely agree with your last sentence. What hope have we got as no MPs seem prepared to get the Party back to its grassroots. The way forward is NOT the centre left/left liberal agenda. There is, apparently, too much inertia embedded in the Party and too much self interest for anyone to do anything about it.

    • Rien Huizer
      Posted January 12, 2018 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

      The issue on the agenda here is what happened with the once mighty coal industry. As our eminent leadsr shows, unions turned coal into a blackmailing tool for themselves and Uk users and tax payers never got the benefit of much cheaper imported coal nor did the unions allow productivity increases (that kept German miners in work for a while longer). However this extremely antagonistic union-management situation is pretty unique to the UK thus precluding a more cooperative approach where workers’ reps and management feel joint responsibility for the enterprise. That something like that works (up to a point) in Germany and is unthinkable in the UK (and in countries like Australia that ended up with quite a few unionists and academics that had outstayed their welcome in the UK) . It is not impossible to have a very efficient public sector, just look at Singapore, but not with British workers and managers maybe.

      • Peter Parsons
        Posted January 13, 2018 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

        I put all of this down to the UK’s political and legal systems. The UK has an adversarial, “us versus them”, winner takes all political system. The legal system is much the same (look at how little part tools such as mediation and arbitration play in the UK). This model then follows through in to other aspects of life such as employment relations (management versus workers).

        Maybe if we had systems where things such as cooperation, collaboration, negotiation and compromise were an inherent part of politics and the law, the UK would be in a better state, but that would require constitutional reforms that many, especially those in the Conservative Party, are utterly opposed to, mainly for party self-interest.

    • APL
      Posted January 12, 2018 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

      Duncan: “THIS PM IS NOT A CONSERVATIVE POLITICIAN”

      Ha!

      This Conservative party is not a conservative party.

  11. Chris
    Posted January 12, 2018 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    Do a Donald Trump.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 12, 2018 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

      Indeed revoke the climate change act and withdraw from the Paris Accord.

      What on earth is the appalling Mayor of London up to again attacking Trump and thus the USA?

    • Hope
      Posted January 12, 2018 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

      I,would,vote for,him,every day and twice on Sunday rather than ever consid r votand no for May. I would also wish to be a state of the US than a region of the EU!

      Trump has more,Hispanic,employed than ever before, more African Americans employed than ever before, he has cut illegal Mexican immigration,the US ecnmy is on the march, he is cutting taxes, he is opposed to left wing socialist views unlike May. He has enacted his special vetting in countries on the watch list intorduced by Obama! He I see putting his,citizens,first second and last. May has,just capitulated on every red line she stated in her Lancaster speech.JR and his,likes remain totally silent on the subject.

      Stale pale and male is racist and sexist, you would think it listening to Westminster bubble. Somehow this phrase is okay! Khan(words left out ed) allowed to speak against Trump and our national interest with immunity! Where are the Conservatives have they all disappeared? Does May have a communication dept?

      • Chris
        Posted January 15, 2018 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

        Oh Hope, you are a person after my own heart. I am in utter despair about May, the Conservative Party, and the inaction of the so called Brexiter Tory MPs. The only answer is for May to go, pdq, and to be replaced by a forceful Brexiter MP, with a damn good team behind him/her, utterly committed to delivering what we voted for.

  12. Epikouros
    Posted January 12, 2018 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    All industries, commerce and trade see changing patterns of demand as new technologies coupled with entrepreneurial innovation and consumer habits change. Always there is outrage at the social and economic effects they cause and political solutions are demanded. Some believe that preempting the changes by managing them so that they do not occur or when they do subsidise or by other means keep these now lame ducks producing that what no one any longer want. Nationalisation and/or protectionism is most often the means used to to do both. An expensive and resource wasting exercise as the rational recognise. Not so the left not recognizing that some pain now averts greater pain at a later date and that after racking up wasted considerable financial cost and even worse social harm.

  13. alan jutson
    Posted January 12, 2018 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    Clean air acts, and the extraction of North sea gas did much to seal the fate of the coal industry, as much as did the availability of cheaper mined coal from elsewhere in the World.

    Still cannot understand why we cannot scrub the emissions from some of the newer and more modern coal fired power stations, surely with todays technology it would have been cheaper and more efficient than some alternative sources of power.

  14. Iain Gill
    Posted January 12, 2018 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    I was quite impressed with your previous harsh critique of your own party, on its handling of the miners, and saying that more care should have gone into the people side, the issues those affected by change would have to deal with, the pain the geographical areas would suffer and so on. Please continue to do likewise for modern equivalents of this situation, say the Brits in the IT workforce who have been displaced by the massed import of foreign labour – as although they are spread more thinly around the country the numbers must now be as large as the displaced mining workforces of those times.

  15. Posted January 12, 2018 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    John
    The BBC did a programme a few years ago about Global Warming with Ian Stewart. Its bias was clear and it dodged difficult areas such as cloud feedbacks. It did however kindle my interest in the science behind the subject and I am now a convinced sceptic.
    Roger

    • jerry
      Posted January 12, 2018 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

      @RWC; So when has ITV, Ch4 or Ch5 done an unbiased exposé on AGW, do tell us, after all you must know if you are only criticising the BBC….

      • NickC
        Posted January 13, 2018 at 11:05 am | Permalink

        Jerry, Your mantra that the BBC cannot be criticised unless ITV etc, is criticised at the same time is simply precious. The BBC’s self-admitted bias about CAGW is self-evidently wrong. That’s because the BBC has a remit to be “impartial” – due to its forced licence model – something it fails to be on a daily basis.

        • jerry
          Posted January 13, 2018 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

          @NickC, “That’s because the BBC has a remit to be “impartial” – due to its forced licence model – something it fails to be on a daily basis.”

          Wrong, all broadcasters have a statutory requirement to be “impartial”. So I will ask again, when has ITV, Ch4 or Ch5 done an unbiased exposé on AGW, you must know otherwise how can you only complain about the BBC?

          Anyway, bias is as much an opinion as any facts, you’re just assume that you are correct and the MSM are wrong, otherwise prove that AGW doesn’t exist – just to turn the usual table!…

        • NickC
          Posted January 14, 2018 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

          Jerry, Rubbish, no one is perfect, so no one is impartial, and that includes the people who control the BBC.

          It is absurd to claim that the BBC can only be criticised provided RT, Sky, Fox, etc is also castigated at the same time. Moreover the theory of due impartiality required by Ofcom falls to bits because the BBC just regurgitates the establishment’s fashionable views. And you fall for it.

          The BBC promoted the theory of CAGW in such a biased manner that it advertised that it was excluding all other views on the subject. Even the climate scientists now say that AGW is happening, but CAGW won’t. The BBC is yet to catch up.

          • jerry
            Posted January 14, 2018 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

            @NickC; The point being, you and others NEVER criticise other MSM outlets, it is always the “BBC”.

            “Even the climate scientists now say that AGW is happening, but CAGW won’t. The BBC is yet to catch up.”

            As does ITV, as does Ch4 (especially their news), as does Sky News – yet it is always the “BBC” you and other rant about. Just like you rant about “immigrants”

          • NickC
            Posted January 15, 2018 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

            Jerry, The point being you NEVER criticise the BBC. Yet the BBC’s unique hypothecated tax based funding system, which all live TV broadcast viewers must pay even if they don’t want the BBC, puts the BBC in a special position. You would be the first to criticise if the TV tax funded Breitbart instead, rather than the BBC.

            I don’t care whether other broadcasters peddle fake news about CAGW, Trump, etc. I do care that the BBC does precisely that – because it is publicly funded which prevents choice of other broadcasters without financially supporting the BBC.

    • Diogenes
      Posted January 12, 2018 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

      And what conclusions have you drawn? Do you consider low-level and high-level clouds potentially acting the same way? And convective vs. stratiform clouds? Do potential aerosols act to reduce the radius of water droplets if made of sulphates or to increase the size of them if made of carbonaceous constituents, and will that be a positive or negative feedback? Is it the same for water and ice clouds?
      I am always interested in people able to get a definite opinion, positive or negative, based on a TV program, then looking at a couple of websites, without, for the most part, having any clue of the complexity of the phenomena at hand. Are they not realising that an answer that might apply if caused by one type of aerosols (say, maritime-type) can be completely different if linked to desert particles, or various human produced particles. But as Gove said, who needs experts, specially those who might have spent a lifetime on a particular topics, when as butterflies politicians can be moved from one ministry to another one and be as “efficient”.
      So much easier for them politicians to have within the public a bunch of cr***ns repeating the latest pronouncements of their favourite newspapers, specially if it allows any sort of statu quo ante.

  16. jerry
    Posted January 12, 2018 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    The miners sacked Conservatives in 1974, so the Conservatives sacked the miners 10 years later….

    • mickc
      Posted January 12, 2018 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

      Err, no!

      Arthur Scargill sacked the miners by attempting to “bring down this Tory government” as he put it. But then he didn’t believe that in this country governments are changed by democratic vote; further he didn’t believe that strikes should be called by vote of the union membership.

    • sm
      Posted January 12, 2018 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

      I suggest you look at the detailed history of the coal industry saga under Mrs T. A very considerable subsidy was offered, but Scargill wanted a fight for his own political reasons – and I recall that many coal-mining areas did not support his agenda.

      The NUM helped to cut its own members’ throats.

      • jerry
        Posted January 12, 2018 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

        @sm & @mickc; I suggest you both actually try reading govt. & other official published documents of that period that have since been released via the 30 year rule for cabinet papers.

        • NickC
          Posted January 13, 2018 at 11:19 am | Permalink

          Jerry, I suggest you also read about the 1980s miners’ strikes, and the historical context of the unions usurping elected government. Mrs Thatcher’s statement (1983): “We must neglect no opportunity to erode trade union membership wherever this corresponds to the wishes of the workforce” is eminently reasonable and moderate. Far more so than your statist polemic.

          • jerry
            Posted January 13, 2018 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

            @NickC; Trade Unionists are the electorate too remember, so there should have been a GE if their wishes were in such conflict with democracy, which is of course the democratic path followed by Heath, except the electorate told him were their sympathies lay…

          • NickC
            Posted January 14, 2018 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

            Jerry, No, trade unionists are not the electorate. They are, and were, only a small part of the electorate. That’s the point. And the “electorate” showed where their sympathies lay when they elected Maggie five years later . . . .

          • jerry
            Posted January 14, 2018 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

            @NickC; “No, trade unionists are not the electorate. “

            Of course they are!

            ” And the “electorate” showed where their sympathies lay when they elected Maggie [in 1979]”

            Whilst haddock was £10 per lbs…

            I note that you did not reply to my point about democracy and placing the minors case before the electorate in 1984, as Heath had done in 1974.

          • NickC
            Posted January 15, 2018 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

            Jerry, No, trade unionists are not the electorate. The electorate consists of all adults in the country, of which trade unionists were (are) only a part.

            Holding a general election is a matter of choice by the elected government, subject to the law of the land, not in the gift of a rioting section of the population. Mrs Thatcher was elected into government both before the 1984-5 Arthur Scargill strike and after, so clearly the electorate’s sympathies did not lie with Scargill.

  17. a-tracy
    Posted January 12, 2018 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    Light the plight of the pottery industry, it’s over! The End. The children in their schools even though governments throughout the pre-close down period knew full well what was happening didn’t retrain, didn’t teach computer skills for newly emerging jobs, my school still taught pottery class but didn’t have access to one new technology.

    Sadly it’s the people that remain in those areas that are left behind if they don’t have the means to move or get their children socially mobile, then whole families that used to be connected and look after one another get cast adrift and the old left to suffer appalling social service care in their old age.

    Too much concentration on London and the South East because it’s the entire political power of the whole Country. The North pathetically keeps electing a Labour party who did nothing and do nothing to improve the schools in these areas even though the run them and have place people on all the governing bodies and the people just can’t contemplate voting Tory even though for once people be the change. The biggest mistake Stoke made was not voting in UKIP to cause a political movement.

    One more thought, this one job- sharing Green MP/2 that the electorate of one constituency re-elects time after time, what has she done in her constituency, can’t the Conservatives try out a few of their extreme policies in just that area?

  18. dennisambler
    Posted January 12, 2018 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    It is absolutely criminal what successive governments have done to the coal industry and to coal fired power stations, blowing them up so they can’t be resurrected. We have considerable energy resources under our feet, yet the emphasis is on pie in the sky renewables, which damage the environment, not just with the destruction of landsacapes but take out of production, good agricultural land with acres of solar panels. Without large subsidies, none of it would happen and our electricity bills would be considerably cheaper.

    The failure of “the climate” to respond to CO2 emissions over the last couple of decades seem lost on our MP’s, who happily swallow the whole”climate change” mish mash. I know John voted against the Climate Change Act. It is time there was a concerted campaign to rid us of this albatross.

  19. Peter Wood
    Posted January 12, 2018 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    This topic of nationalisation should be put into context. In the early part of the 20th Century Marxism was thought of as a possible avenue for civilisation to follow to develop. Consequently, the management by the state of the means of production for the benefit of all of society seemed a plausible idea. Atlee was obviously swayed by these new ideas and decided to give them a try, with natural support from the working masses. This achieved early success, following the desperate years of the 30’s and 40’s.
    What was not understood, or foreseen, is how human nature is simply incompatible with forced socialism. (Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs was only published in the 1940’s and needed to be tested)
    Socialism, in occasional circumstances works, Singapore is a success so far. However eventually we humans find that we don’t all want the same things, and socialism simply isn’t compatible with individualism.

    • jerry
      Posted January 12, 2018 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

      @Peter Woods; Someone is/was getting very mixed up between “Marxism” and “Socialism”, they are distinctly different political theories, not interchangeable terms for one and the same.

      • NickC
        Posted January 13, 2018 at 11:24 am | Permalink

        Jerry, If it walks like a marxist, talks like a marxist, and gets the same results as a marxist, it is a marxist. Even if it claimed to be a socialist, trotskyist, maoist, or any of the myriad other statist claptrap titles used to hide the eventual outcome from the gullible.

        • jerry
          Posted January 13, 2018 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

          @NickC; Thank you for your opinion, sorry but you are still mistaken – oh and much the same rubbish could be said about the right-wing, if it talks like a National Socialist….

          • NickC
            Posted January 14, 2018 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

            Jerry, Thank you for agreeing: if it talks like a National Socialist, it is still a socialist.

  20. Prigger
    Posted January 12, 2018 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    Working conditions in a coalmine are not kind. They generated a love of flowers and growing things. Having an allotment, “It’s a good one!” was something to envy of a strong man. Made him stronger.
    The pits should never open again. As our overly educated children have it “Why do you need coal to keep warm? You can just switch the Central Heating on instead.”

  21. acorn
    Posted January 12, 2018 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    CCS is in the UK now, teamed up with the French company Veolia to exploit the technology.

    • acorn
      Posted January 12, 2018 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

      Above was meant to be a reply to “agicola” at 8:22 am.

  22. Prigger
    Posted January 12, 2018 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    Correction. Snow White not Sleeping Beauty. ..or maybe it is a combination of both.

  23. jerry
    Posted January 12, 2018 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    Funny how the usual people are slagging off the BBC, by way of AGW, at the same time as lamenting the passing of ‘cheap coal’ and thus cheap energy technologies.

    It was a certain Mrs T who become the first (or one of the first) G7 politicians in the world to used the suspected link between climate and/or environmental issues with the use of coal (Acid Rain), using the link to promote ‘cleaner’ technologies such as natural gas and oil, thus the need to cut our use of cheaper, more plentiful and easier to obtain coal meaning that energy prices were bound to rise as oil had to be bought on the worlds market and not from a market that the UK govt. could control via the NCB.

  24. Miss Brandreth-Jones
    Posted January 12, 2018 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

    So many broken homes and lives John.So much sadness. It is hard for my generation to think of Mrs Thatcher in any other light and I expect that you had a say in the closures.Thriving villages wiped out. Surely there was a case for better management here. If there is any coal left then it should be mined.My parents home had a solid fuel range and used anthracite. I don’t know whether the carbon foot print is less than bituminous coal or whether there is any of the pressured carbon seams left , but I cannot abide waste in any form whether it is people or products.

    Reply |As the history shows the closure of pits and decline in miners numbers was remorseless long before Mrs Thatcher appeared in office.

    • jerry
      Posted January 13, 2018 at 11:02 am | Permalink

      @JR reply; Yes pits closed before the 1980s, but only when exhausted (worked-out or for safety reasons), not because the govt. of the day wanted them closed so they could offer tax cuts from the money saved, leaving many hundreds of years of coal reserves abandoned and (probably) now unreachable in the future – how this country treated its coal industry, for short term political gain, was disgusting as any self thinking, unbiased, person knows.

      Reply The NCB claimed the pits were exhausted when closing them before the 80s and during the 80s.

      • jerry
        Posted January 13, 2018 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

        @JR reply; No one is commenting on pre 1980s closures, they would have gone through the accepted (by all sides) reviews etc. nor did the NUM object to such closures as men who wanted to carry on working would be offered work elsewhere.

        The 1984 strike was about the NCB’s list of 70 plus pits they wished to close, the list both the NCB and Govt. claimed not to have…

        http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-25549596

  25. Original Richard
    Posted January 12, 2018 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

    “More recently governments have turned anti coal on environmental grounds.”

    But not in Germany where new coal fired power stations are still being built and using much dirtier locally sourced “brown” coal (lignite).

  26. SecretPeople
    Posted January 12, 2018 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

    I would be interested to learn more about any objections to buying in geothermal energy (were it to become a reality by 2020):

    http://www.euractiv.com/section/energy/news/iceland-magma-drilling-project-may-revive-giant-uk-power-cable-link/

    • Diogenes
      Posted January 13, 2018 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

      I see a main one: we would have to move Britain first onto the Mid-Atlantic Ridge., you know, the place where some new Earth crust forms at the bottom of the oceans. Iceland is slap down on it (and in fact is the result of this volcanic activity).
      But if everybody makes an effort, there is nothing impossible to a British person.

  27. Prigger
    Posted January 13, 2018 at 12:39 am | Permalink

    CNN admits it filmed the entire DACA meeting..55 minutes.. I saw it all. But remarkably under the headline “White House corrects DACA transcript “points out it only deleted Trump saying “Yeah, I would like to do that” Nothing else!
    No mention of a bad word! CNN’s own record. So why is the British Government’s BBC and the UN running Trump down? Also the Mayor of London Khan, again?

    http://edition.cnn.com/2018/01/10/politics/white-house-transcript-corrected-daca-donald-trump/index.html

    • jerry
      Posted January 13, 2018 at 11:11 am | Permalink

      @Prigger; The comment in question appears to have been made after the media left, otherwise why would Trump be suggesting that he will now record such meetings himself, never mind the fact that there would be no way for anyone other than CNN to ‘correct’ a transcript of the CNN recording!

  28. BretW
    Posted January 13, 2018 at 2:05 am | Permalink

    Coal is an industry of the past, it is dirty, pollutes the enviornment at every level and should be consigned to history just like smoking tobacco, people of the future will look back in wonder about how we lived. The way forward is through clean electricity produced be renewables including wind wave and solar etc and also nuclear to pick up the slack during times of high pressure systems when wind power is reduced. There are other energy producing systems undergoing research and development like energy from hydrogen that i have no doubt will come to the forefront as time moves on..coal should not even be in the equation except as an interim measure..not for the future

  29. D Gardener
    Posted January 13, 2018 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

    I note that President Trump is now reviewing the regulations on coal laid down by Obama. The Heartland Institute are advocating its return to provide the American people with a home grown and a much cheaper method of creating electrical power. Clean coal is the perfect solution for the USA and probably the UK too.

  30. John P McDonald
    Posted January 14, 2018 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think it is totally justified to highlight the failures of the nationalised steel and coal industry to support the non-nationalisation of industries requiring a physical nationwide network to supply a product or service. A coal mine or a steel works can operate independently of other coal mines or steel works and does not need to be controlled on a national level to produce coal or steel.

  31. Ron Olden
    Posted January 15, 2018 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

    Tower Colliery was irrefutable evidence as to how inefficient, and useless, the State and Trade Unions were at running these businesses.

    The miners invested their redundancy money to buy the pit to keep it open, and owing to the fact that only half of them decided to participate, the pit was able to operate with barely half the number of miners it had when it was State owned.

    It was also liberated from the bad attitudes associated with a nationalised industry employing wholly unionised employees. Following their takeover of the pit the miners knew that they had to make a go of it, or it would close.

    And they did so spectacularly well. The only reason it finally shut two decades later, was because the coal genuinely did run out.

    Something similar happened at National Express Coaches. The employees knew far better how to run a profitable business with the Unions and nationalised ‘management’ out of the picture.

    Today Carillion collapsed.

    The company supplies hospital cleaners, prison maintenance workers, port staff and labour in the energy and utilities sector. Where Carillion is part of a consortium, the staff will likely be taken on by the other companies.

    But for the rest, why don’t the Unions bid for the contracts and employ the staff on a ‘not for profit’ basis? According to them and Corbyn, its a bad idea for these services to be delivered by a firm that makes money.

    This a chance for them all to show the world how clever they are at running things without making a profit.

    I’m not holding my breath.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, He graduated from Magdalen College Oxford, has a DPhil and is a fellow of All Souls College. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.

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