Steam Railway (UK) - - News -

The Her­itage Rail­way As­so­ci­a­tion has re­sponded to the Depart­ment for En­vi­ron­ment, Food & Ru­ral Af­fairs’ (DEFRA) con­sul­ta­tion on coal burn­ing in the UK. Al­though the con­sul­ta­tion does not specif­i­cally tar­get the use of coal on steam rail­ways, the HRA is con­cerned that the pro­posed tight­ened reg­u­la­tions on do­mes­tic coal burn­ing could be ex­panded and en­com­pass steam lo­co­mo­tives and other coal-fired pre­served trac­tion. Steve Oates, the HRA’s newly ap­pointed chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer (see be­low), says: “If the Govern­ment seeks to in­tro­duce a ban on the use of coal then clearly we would seek a full ex­emp­tion. “While rail­ways are con­scious of the en­vi­ron­men­tal con­sid­er­a­tions of burn­ing coal, we recog­nise that the en­vi­ron­men­tal im­print from steam lo­co­mo­tives is rel­a­tively tiny. It has been es­ti­mated that one year’s emis­sions from all the world’s steam lo­co­mo­tives amount to less than six min­utes’ worth of emis­sions from one coal-fired power sta­tion. “We are there­fore urg­ing a sense of pro­por­tion and bal­ance and… if fol­low­ing the DEFRA con­sul­ta­tion a ban on most com­mer­cial uses comes into force, then the last re­main­ing UK mines may close and pre­served rail­ways will need to seek im­ports, and to also find ways of min­imis­ing coal us­age while bal­anc­ing this against re­tain­ing the her­itage char­ac­ter­is­tics of steam lo­co­mo­tives. “In the UK, we are con­fi­dent of coal sup­plies for at least the next five years and we are not aware of any rail­ways cur­rently ex­pe­ri­enc­ing dif­fi­cul­ties in se­cur­ing sup­plies.”

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