blood on the coal


Over 100,000 miners have been killed in the British mining industry between 1850 and 2004, according to recent research. It is impossible to quantify the number who have been injured, maimed or crippled, but it is estimated to run into hundreds of thousands, as is the number who have suffered and died from respiratory diseases.

Miners and ex-miners have lodged over 516,000 claims for compensation arising from mining respiratory illnesses in response to a government deadline.

It has also been calculated that the cost of the politically motivated pit closure programme from 1984 to 2004 is over £28 billion, equivalent to nearly half the tax revenue generated from North Sea oil and gas reserves during the same period. By 2020 three-quarters of our energy needs will be imported, so from being self-sustaining and independent in energy Britain will become dependent on Russia, Asia, the Middle East and Algeria. Meeting our daily energy requirements could bring a new and ominous meaning to the phrase "blood on the coal" if fuel comes from Iraq, potentially one of the world's greatest centres of oil reserves.

The 2003 Energy White Paper promises wind farms and tidal barriers — all totally inadequate to meet Britain's energy needs. It promises imports from the most unstable parts of the globe. There are no plans for the next generation of nuclear power stations. There are no plans to build clean coal power stations which could access the 1,000 years of coal reserves in Britain. The reality is that there is no forward planning.

The thousands of miners dead, crippled or blighted with lung disease, who freed the coal to feed British industry, will come to haunt this wretched government, which presides over the decline in our ability to provide the light, heat and energy we need.