Matt Ridley Fires Off About Coal Fortune

I have declared my interest in the coal mining on my family’s land whenever and wherever relevant both in my writing and in Parliament.

“However, I generally argue in favour of gas, which is coal’s main competitor, and do not argue directly in favour of the coal industry. There is a long and proud tradition of coal mining in the North- east of England.

“The coal under my family’s land belongs to the state, being nationalized, so royalties go to the government, not the landowner. Only part of the coal mining operated by the Banks Group at the Shotton and Brenkley mines is on my family’s land.

“I consider the mining operation an excellent local employer, which provides affordable energy to UK industry and electricity consumers, without subsidy, and in a situation where the UK imports the majority of the coal it burns.

“It also contributes generous taxes as well as funding welcome environmental benefits and numerous community projects.

“I receive no financial benefit other than a wayleave in exchange for providing access to the land. The details are commercially confidential, but the wayleave is very small indeed in relation to the value of the coal mined from my family’s land. 

“It is partly shared with local residents and the remainder, after paying tax, is almost entirely reinvested in the maintenance and improvement of the property. The coal industry has never tried to influence my views on climate science or policy.”

Matt Ridley