A respected industrial historian recently claimed that Britain’s relationship with its coal industry had been one of the world’s worst cases of political and industrial strife for any leading nation in the post-war period. High subsidies, sector inefficiencies and labour disputes had led to political hostility and a consequent desire to reduce what was seen as a troubled industry on which the country had become over-dependent. Even after privatisation in 1994, policymakers still moved to deliver the final blow with environmental tax policies destined to end coal’s once dominant role in British electricity generation.
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