Aberthaw Power Station reduces operating hours
April 27, 2016

Campaigners cautiously welcome of Aberthaw’s reduced hours announcement

Local and national anti-opencast coal activists welcome the news that Aberthaw power station is to restrict its operating hours and reduce its consumption of Welsh coal from April 2017.

Aberthaw power station is a massive emitter of Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) and the EU commission has accused the plant of exceeding European air quality limits on NOx by twice the limit since 2008. Nox are poisonous gases, contributing to the numbers of deaths caused by air pollution.

The European Court of Justice has taken the UK Government to court over this issue with the first hearing last Monday (18/04/16). The UK government granted an allowance to the plant because they were burning low-volatility coal from Wales, but no acceptable justification was supplied by RWE Npower, or the UK Government to support this allowance.

We do not know the findings of the hearing, but we can infer from RWE Npower’s/ Aberthaw’s announcement that it may not have gone their way. Ironically, the public are paying £27 Million in subsidies from the Capacity Market Auction to keep Aberthaw power station on standby for the next 4 years.

Aberthaw is also one of the largest CO2 emitters in the country. The public are paying RWE Npower £27 Million in subsidies to keep Aberthaw power station working over the next 4 years. This power station should be shut down completely, not paid to add massively to Wales’ NHS bill and carbon footprint.

The mining of coal to feed Aberthaw power station has had serious impacts on local people. “We have suffered noise and dust from the massive Ffos-y-fran opencast mine for 8 years; an operation justified by Aberthaw’s ‘need’ for the coal. We hope that this announcement now means that the two applications for new mines will be refused or withdrawn as there is no longer a Welsh customer for the coal,” says Chris Austin, Merthyr Tydfil resident and secretary of the United Valleys Action Group.

Local residents from United Valleys Action Group and No Opencast Varteg Hill have been fighting two new applications to mine in South Wales, both of which were expected to supply Aberthaw, if approved.  This announcement is welcome as it means that these applications are now unlikely to be approved.

After 4 years of intensive campaigning, UVAG and the communities of the upper Rhymney valley successfully convinced the Caerphilly councillors on the planning committee of Miller Argent’s mine proposal at Nant Llesg would have a huge detrimental impact and they rejected the proposal en masse in August 2015.

The company, who also operate the nearby controversial Ffos-y-fran opencast coal mine, have appealed this decision and are currently trying to push the proposal through against the wishes of the local communities and their representatives.

We welcome any changes which reduce Aberthaw power station’s consumption of coal and any reductions in coaling from South Wales, however we cannot celebrate an increase in coal imports. Coal imports are causing the displacement of indigenous communities living sustainably in Colombian and Russian coalfields and vast ecological destruction. The solution is to close Aberthaw power station completely,” says Sarah Squires from the Coal Action Network.

This Saturday people from across the country will congregate near Ffos-y-fran and prepare to close the mine down on Tuesday 3rd May. This action is taking place to say no to Miller Argent’s plans to mine at Nant Llesg and to demand a quick and total move away from coal power.

A joint article written with UVAG and CAN.