For immediate release, 26/10/15

Media contact: 07778264805 / @viscountridley

**Photos and interviews with protestors on site available**

Protesters have shut down an opencast coal mine on land belonging to prominent climate sceptic and Conservative peer Viscount Matt Ridley.

The Shotton opencast coal mine, near Newcastle, was targeted by the activists early this morning, who have occupied one of the 500-tonne coal excavating machines, and are blockading the entrance to prevent coal leaving the site.

The protesters, calling themselves ‘Matt Ridley’s Conscience’, are calling for an end to opencast coal mining, and for the UK’s remaining coal power stations to be phased out by 2023 at the latest.

Viscount Ridley has stated that fossil fuels are “not a bad thing” and that “climate change is good for the world”. He has never disclosed how much income he receives from the coal mines on his land. Banks Mining, who operate the Shotton mine, recently lodged an application for a huge new opencast coal mine at nearby Druridge Bay.

Those at the site entrance are blockading it locked into red arm tubes, representing coal as a ‘red line for the climate’, and a reference to the mass civil disobedience planned for the final days of the UN climate talks in Paris in December. Other activists hold banners that read ‘Keep it in the Ground’ and ‘End Coal’.

Ellen Gibson, one of the activists locked-on at the front gate, said:

“Gone are the days when mining benefitted millions – now opencast mining lines the pockets of millionaires like climate sceptic Lord Ridley, whilst destroying the landscape and cooking the planet.

“We need to keep 80% of all known fossil fuels in the ground if we’re to prevent catastrophic climate change, and coal is the dirtiest fuel of all.

“The Government needs to end opencast mining and shut the UK’s last coal power station by 2023 at the latest. Lord Ridley should come clean about how much he rakes in from coal mining on his ancestral estate.”

Northumberland resident Rakesh Prashara said:

“Mining for more coal is holding us back, instead we need to be investing in the renewable energy that would provide new skills and jobs to the young people of our region.”

Prashara added:

        “Banks Mining’s proposal for yet another new opencast coalmine next to Druridge Bay would wreck an astoundingly beautiful coastline and damage tourism as well as the climate. We urge people to register their objections and for Northumberland Council to reject the proposal.’



  1.     Photos, film footage and interviews with the protestors from group End Coal are all available on request, and are being uploaded to
  2. Viscount Matt Ridley owns the 12-square-mile Blagdon Estate, which includes the land on which the Shotton and Brenkley opencast coalmines operate. Lord Ridley has made a declaration of his coalmining interests on his website here, but has never disclosed the sum he receives as wayleave (rent) from the private operators of the mines, Banks Mining. Investigative journalists at DeSmogUK have estimated Lord Ridley’s annual earnings from coal interests to be between £3.1million and £4.1million.
  3. Viscount Ridley is a Conservative member of the House of Lords, writes a column in The Times and is an outspoken climate sceptic. He has previously stated that “fossil fuels are not finished, not obsolete, not a bad thing”, and that “climate change is good for the world”.
  4. The Shotton opencast coalmine has a total anticipated production of 6 million tonnes of coal, has been operating since 2008 and is currently set to finish extraction in 2018. Banks Mining state that around 190 lorries take coal away from the site each day to Blyth, where it is then sent by rail to be burned in Yorkshire power stations.
  5. Banks Mining have recently lodged a planning application for a new 3-million-tonne opencast coalmine at Highthorn, next to Druridge Bay, on the Northumberland coast. Community group Save Druridge Bay is campaigning against the proposals.
  6. The Carbon Tracker initiative calculates that the world needs to leave 80% of known fossil fuel reserves in the ground to avert 2 degrees of global warming. The Government’s independent advisors, the Committee on Climate Change, say that the UK needs to phase out unabated coal power stations by the early 2020s to meet climate commitments, and that this can readily be done so by powering up with cleaner forms of energy instead. Campaigning groups are urging the Energy Secretary, Amber Rudd, to commit firmly to phasing out coal burning by 2023.
  7. End Coal encourage anyone concerned about climate change and keeping fossil fuels in the ground to take part in the ‘Red Line’ direct action at the Paris climate talks on December 12th. For more information, visit


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