Forum Options

« Back to Miscellaneous Topics Topics

Sign In above to begin adding replies.

Coal usage


Joined: 9-10-16

Topics: 8

Replies: 9

Posted: Sun 4th Nov 2018, 2:42pm
Coal usage

Apparently DEFRA are looking to reduce coal usage in the UK.

How will this affect our hobby? ... will it mean coal will be harder to get and hence push prices up? .... what's the real story here ?

Replies To This Post


Joined: 1-01-70

Topics: 0

Replies: 5

Posted: Tue 17th Dec 2019, 8:58am

Dear all,
I am also a member of traction talk forum and thought this post might be on interest

This is a posting from Tom Bright about coal use.......

“May I throw my hat into the ring?

I am the News & Features Writer for Steam Railway magazine, and have been covering this topic extensively over the last few months. Some of you (I hope!) may have seen the features I have written on coal this year, tackling this very delicate subject.

DEFRA wants to introduce a ban on the sale of smoky coal for domestic, household use in England only (this is a devolved issue, so doesn't affect Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland, though of course there is a similar coal ban being implemented in the RoI). It is not seeking to ban heritage coal burners - i.e.: railways, traction engines, steam ships, heritage museums etc - from burning coal, and it has assured our magazine, the NTET and the HRA that heritage coal burners will be exempt from any ban.

Although we should be exempt from any legislation arising from the proposed coal ban, the problem is that the household market is the single biggest user of sized, lumped coal in the UK - i.e.: the same size and variety of coal used by steam-powered vehicles. If coal merchants are banned from supplying such coal to this market, then it is uneconomical for them to carrying on supplying sized, lumped coal to the heritage market, which works off the back of the household coal market and burns approximately 40-45,000 tonnes of coal per annum. As far as coal mines and suppliers are concerned, we are a drop in the ocean.

Coal in the UK is already treading a very fine tightrope. Come 2025, we will no longer burn coal for electricity generation, so coal merchants will lose their single biggest customer. We have already gone for a whole week without burning coal for power. While a significant amount of coal will still be required for the steelmaking and cement industries in particular, this is granulated/pulverised coal, completely unsuited to traction engine and locomotive fireboxes. That notwithstanding, recent news reports suggest that steelmaking in the UK is living in borrowed time, so that market likely has a limited shelf life.

If the dominant market for sized, lumped coal goes, then the fear is that the screening and distribution facilities and network necessary for sorting and transporting that coal will also disappear, so even if we can still source coal from abroad, without such screening/distribution facilities, actually getting the coal into the country - let alone to where it is needed - will become very difficult, if not impossible.

Add in to that the likelihood that coal costs will increase (the HRA estimates this could be up to 400% over current prices), then even if we can still import it, screen it and transport it etc, we might not be able to afford it - at least not in the quantities to which we have become accustomed.

It would be all too easy to dismiss this as scaremongering, but having met Therese Coffey - who's responsible for this DEFRA proposal - a ban is 99% likely, and if it happens, regardless of whether heritage coal burners get an exemption, things are going to be very challenging.

We do have champions on our side trying to combat this threat. The HRA is doing sterling work in outlining the issues to DEFRA, as is the NTET - and thanks must go to David Smith for his tireless efforts to highlight this issue to NTET's membership and the government. We also have the newly formed Heritage Fuels Alliance, which is similarly lobbying government to protect our right to buy and burn coal.

All hope is not lost. However, the challenges are significant and we must work together if we're to find a way forward. The most difficult thing at the moment is that, until DEFRA formally announces its plans, no one knows what form a ban will take nor how it will come into effect. The cards are very much up in the air, but we must be prepared for when they fall.”

Other views are expressed on the traction talk forum and it is worth a look.

Of course you will have to register to read the full posts



Joined: 1-01-70

Topics: 0

Replies: 5

Posted: Fri 20th Dec 2019, 6:01pm

I have been doing some further investigation into the DEFRA proposal to reduce coal usage. It seems that a lobbying group exists that the 71/4 society may wish to consider joining. Details are as follows:

The Heritage Fuels Alliance joins the Heritage Alliance
December 18, 2018
The Heritage Alliance is delighted to welcome The new Heritage Fuels Alliance as a member. The Heritage Fuels Alliance has been formed by the Heritage Railway Association, the National Traction Engine Trust, the Federation of British Historic Vehicles Clubs, the Transport Trust and the Association of British Transport & Engineering Museums to lobby on behalf of members who use coal in railway locomotives, road vehicles, pumping stations etc… in the UK. The Group is promoting the considerable benefits to the economy and to society generally of heritage railways, steam rallies, museums etc and challenging any plans that might lead to the elimination of heritage coal burning in the UK. The heritage steam sector would collapse if the right to burn coal were withdrawn, whilst pollution and the risks to public health from coal burning by heritage users is minimal.

« Back to Miscellaneous Topics Topics

Contacts | Links | Cookies

Registered office: Yorkshire Accountancy Ltd, 123 Hallgate, Cottingham, East Yorkshire, HU16 4DA
Company registered in England & Wales Number 3955091 © Seven and a Quarter Gauge Society Ltd

Web design by Slingshot