Three coal power stations are to close by the end of the month. A move welcomed by campaigners fighting opencast coal mines in the UK and against climate change.
Longannet is Scotland’s last coal fired power station. This power station has been responsible for one fifth of all of Scotland’s climate change emissions.  Coal burnt in Longannet has been imported from Colombia, Russia and the USA, as well as being supplied by opencast coal mines in Scotland.  As a result of Longannet’s closure Hargreaves, the main coal mining company in Scotland, has announced it will close all but one of its Scottish mines.  This move has been welcomed by local campaigners, the Scottish Opencast Community Alliance, who are now fighting for a full restoration of the sites abandoned by previous mine operators and a ban on opencast mining. 
SSE stated that Ferrybridge power station was forecast to lose £100m over the next 5 years, and that the political consensus is that coal has a limited role in the future, meaning that keeping the station open is not sustainable.  SSE are also to close all but one unit at their other coal power station Fiddler’s Ferry this year. Ferrybridge is in West Yorkshire.
Eggborough has failed in its attempts to gain support from government to convert the power station from coal to biomass and will now close.  Its closure is welcomed by campaigners working to end our addiction to fossil fuels. Eggborough is in North Yorkshire.
Activist who have fought against the opencast mines which have supplied these power stations celebrate their closure.
All, but one, of the UK coal power stations need to upgrade their air quality controls in order to reach new European Union air pollution standards.  The remaining 7 power stations need to evaluate whether it is more economically viable to upgrade or to close. The Coal Action Network is pushing for the later. This summer Rugeley power station will also close. 
Anne Harris from the Coal Action Network says, ‘We are pleased that this week the UK is moving away from unsustainable coal in shutting three of its 11 coal power stations. This will reduce the extensive damage caused to the communities in the UK, Russia, Colombia and the USA where the coal is mined to provide our electricity. Closing these coal power stations means that we will reduce our contribution to global warming.”
She adds, “Although we are sorry that this means job losses for people working at these sites we feel that in balance this is the best outcome, given that people are being poisoned and their livelihoods attacked to provide the coal to these power stations. Now the Government needs to act to ensure a prompt closure of all coal fired power stations and an end to the misery of opencast coal mining.”
Notes to editor
Contact Anne Harris for further information
The Coal Action Network works with the communities fighting new opencast coal mines, stands in solidarity with people living in the shadows of the mines which supply the UK worldwide, and is fighting to close the remaining UK coal power stations. At present there are five applications to opencast mine coal in the UK and 13 sites which have planning permission but have not started mining. In December there were 25 operating opencast coal mines.
 Carrell, S. (23/03/16) Longannet power station to shut next year
 Coal Action Network (January 2016) Ditch Coal www.coalaction.org.uk/ditchcoal p81-82 viewed 24/03/16
 BBC news (16/02/16) Hargreaves to halt output at most Scottish opencast mines
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-business-35587858 viewed 24/03/16
 Scottish Opencast communities alliance, Demand an end to new opencast coal mines now!
Hargreaves bought the most profitable coal mining sites in Scotland from Scottish Coal when it liquidated in 2013. Scottish Coal had been the target of a long running campaign against opencast coal mines by the protest group Coal Action Scotland.
 SSE (20/05/15) SSE Announces Closure of Ferrybridge Power Station
 Eggborough Power Ltd (02/09/15) Company Announcement http://www.eggboroughpower.co.uk/About-Us/Our- Values-%281%29.aspx viewed 30/09/15 Eggborough may come back online if there is a shortage in the National Grid during the winter of 2016/2017 under the Government’s Supplemental Balancing Reserve.
 The Industrial Emissions Directive requires industrial plants, including the UK’s existing coal power stations, to reduce emissions of sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and
particulate emissions which cause air pollution. Power stations can either: comply with the directive; not comply with the standards (known as Limited Life Degradation) and close within 17,500 operating hours after 1st January 2016, and no later than 31st December 2023; or participate in the Transitional National Plan. [Coal Action Network (January 2016) Ditch Coal www.coalaction.org.uk/ditchcoal p83 viewed 24/03/16]
 Davies, R (08/02/16) Government denies blackout risk as Rugeley coal plant unveils closure plan http://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/feb/08/government-denies-blackout-risk-engie-rugeley-coal-power-station-shuts viewed 24/03/16