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Another move to remove coal from the UK energy mix

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World Coal,

Unite, the country’s largest union, said that the recent announcement that SSE expects to close three of its four units at the coal-fired Fiddler’s Ferry power plant was ‘a disaster’ for the country’s energy needs, the local economy, and the workers and their families.

The union indicated the potential closure was the latest glaring example that the government has discarded ‘King Coal’ as part of the solution to the UK’s energy crisis.

Unite National Officer for Energy Kevin Coyne said: “This is clearly a decision that SSE has made which will impact on at least 270 employees from Merseyside who will lose their jobs as a result.

“However this is clearly in line with government policy in their dash from coal to gas and a determination that coal will not be a sustainable energy source in the future. The government’s carbon floor tax has added massive additional cost while their decision to renege on carbon capture and storage has removed all confidence from the industry.

“What is left is a loyal workforce feeling that important decisions about their future are out of their control. We will engage with the company however to ensure that every avenue to save this plant is explored.

According to Coyne, this is another move by the UK to discard coal’s role in future energy strategies, adding to the “jettisoning of the £1 billion carbon capture and storage (CCS) competition by chancellor George Osborne in November” that put “another nail in the coffin of ‘King Coal’.” He emphasised CCS could have provided a good future for coal by maintaining carbon emissions to be within EU limits.

Unite Regional Officer Graham Williams said: “The workers are devastated by the news, but are also angry at the lack of joined-up thinking with regards to the government’s energy policy.

He continued: “If the government were prepared to pay the proper rate for electricity this would be a small price to pay to keep this workforce in employment and it would assist the National Grid system greatly now and in the future.”

“It is a sad day for the workers and their families and Unite will be doing its utmost to support our members in the difficult times ahead,” Williams concluded.

The Fiddler’s Ferry potential closure follows a recent pattern of UK coal closures with the shutting down of the UK’s last underground coal mine at Kellingley coal mine, near Castleford in December; the intended ceasing of the coal-fired Eggborough site in West Yorkshire in March; and the Ferrybridge C power plant expected to shut next month.

Edited from press release by Harleigh Hobbs

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