SSE have announced today (20th May 2015) that they are closing their Ferrybridge powerstation on the 31st March 2016.
‘Paul Smith, SSE Managing Director…said: “This was a very difficult decision to take because of the impact on our Ferrybridge employees, their families and the community. It’s been known for many years that the UK would have to phase out coal as it moves towards a more sustainable energy mix. We’ve sought to protect jobs and invest in the site to keep it running for as long as we possibly could but ultimately we’ve had to make this regrettable decision today.’From the SSE website.
Even the power companies are acknowledging that it is time to close dirty coal fired power stations.
What does this mean for communities affected by mining?
“Last summer, Ferrybridge was sourcing two trains a week from Killoch (coal from House of Water) and three trains a week from Crowbandsgate (coal from Duncanziemere, Netherton and Glenmuckloch). The Killoch-Ferrybridge trains ended in September 2014 and were replaced with a contract to send three trains a week from Killoch to Longannet. Those trains stopped in March and there have been no trains out of Killoch since.
In the period up to March 2015, Crowbandsgate was sending five trains a week to Ferrybridge. These have tailed off in recent weeks and there have been no Ferrybridge trains out of Crowbandsgate since 11th May…. Crowbandsgate continued to send coal to Ferrybridge for a month after both units had been shut down for 4 1/2 months of maintenance – so they were building their stocks. Now that Ferrybridge will be on half-capacity from August and close seven months later, and they have huge stocks, it’s likely that there will be no more Scottish coal going to Ferrybridge.
So… Ferrybridge closure means a drop of 7,000 tonnes a week – 364,000 tonnes a year – in the demand for coal from East Ayrshire. That’s a 27% drop in demand compared to total East Ayrshire coal production in 2014.” Thanks to Malcolm Spaven from Scottish Opencast Communities Alliance for this information.
Power companies are not very transparent about where they source their fuel from. However, the UK imports most of its coal from Russia, followed by Colombia and the United States, so it would be reasonable to presume that some of the coal from Ferrybridge comes from these sources. Power station closure presumably means less coal being exported from these countries and could mean less being mined unless there are other markets which they can access with the infrastructure they have.