Last week’s preposterous justification of the Widdrington opencast proposal by James Common, ‘Do the many ecological benefits make opencast mining a blessing in disguise’, on the grounds that eventually the site could be restored to a nature reserve, cannot go unchallenged.
Apart from the fact that nature reserves could be created there without any opencast work at all if we wanted to, he discounts the environmental damage of 10 years of excavation and, even more crucially, ignores the global environmental impact of burning the excavated coal.
As a ‘discerning naturalist’, he should be aware that the northward spread of the little egret to Druridge Bay which he welcomes might just be another indication of climate change.
Rational opinion attributes climate change to increasing levels of atmospheric greenhouse gases like CO2 and that burning coal significantly contributes to this increase.
Little egrets in Northumberland might be a plus from climate change, but on a global scale it looks as if there will be many more losers than gainers.
Every day brings more worrying data on the effects of our activities on the global ecosystem, the latest being concerns about ocean acidification as more CO2 dissolves in the water.
We should be concentrating on more efficient use of energy and generating much more energy from renewable resources.
This would not only reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, ideally to zero, but also create far more high-value jobs than digging holes at Widdrington ever will.
Coal may have powered the industrial revolution, but today the best thing to do with coal is to leave it in the ground.
Bridge End, Alnmouth