Sir David Attenborough, Britain’s most recognised and esteemed naturalist, this week has made a rare political statement about one of Northumberland’s most important issues; that of the proposed opencast coal mine at Druridge Bay.
He said, and he’s quite right, that: “It would be shameful were the UK to open this new coal mine at precisely the moment the world at large is recognising the dreadful effect of burning coal on our planet’s climate.”
The word ‘shameful’ is particularly strong for a non-partisan scientist and presenter.
He’s correct though, even if this may be difficult for us to accept.
It will be impossible for us to live with the heated climate caused by significant man-made climate change – the effects will be world changing and disastrous.
Within 12 years we need to reduce worldwide emissions of carbon by half. Opening a new coal mine in Northumberland is absolutely contrary to this. Quite simply, from what we know now it’s a madness and an impossibility.
Coal was Northumberland’s proud heritage and history, no one denies that, and that is exactly where it needs to stay.
Coal is a heavy carbon source of energy and we cannot keep releasing this into the atmosphere in the form that we do without capturing the carbon element within it – we don’t do this.
It is too easy for Banks Mining Group to keep making profits out of our landscape.
The argument for removing coal from the ground at Druridge is that it will create 100 new jobs, but at present there are many hundreds of jobs within our region from people already working in the renewables sector.
We don’t mention this often, but why not? Let’s recognise it and offer this as an alternative. Let’s talk about this and hold it up as a solution. It’s time for us to take pride in this as well.
This industry offers jobs, livelihoods and skills, and it can grow too. Renewable energy is Northumberland’s future and needs to be our only future.
Let’s take this positive message forward instead.
We do not want or need another massive black hole in the ground. What we need are good jobs, sustainability, pride and environmental common sense. Let’s do the hard work, let’s work towards this and make a better, stronger Northumberland future we can all be proud of.