The UK’s House of Lords, its upper house of Parliament, has proposed an amendment to the country’s proposed energy bill that would ban the opening and or licensing of new coal mines.

The amendment must still be passed through the House of Commons for it to take effect. The amendment would mean that within six months of the passing of bill  which was originally known as the energy security bill, the secretary of state must ban the opening of or, granting of licences to, new coal mines.

The new clause passed through the house of lords narrowly with 197 votes in favour and 194 against. The amendment reads: “Within six months of the day on which this act is passed, the secretary of state must by regulations prohibit the opening of new coalmines and the licensing of new coalmines by the Coal Authority or its successors.”

In order to remove the amendment, the house of commons will have to take on a further amendment against it.

Lord Callanan initially proposed the bill in July 2022 with the aim of increasing the UK’s energy security and uptake of renewable power.

The UK’s Liberal Democrat party raised the amendment, which was supported by the Labour Party. Liberal Democrat spokesperson for energy in the House of Lords, Lord Teverson said: “This is a fantastic win for the Liberal Democrats, with the passage of our amendment stopping this Conservative government from opening new coalmines which tear the UK’s environmental credentials into shreds”.

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Teverson hopes that the amendment will provide a route to cleaner and cheaper energy for UK households.

The end of UK coal mines?

At the end of last year the UK government approved the opening of the first coal mine in 30 years to be developed in Cumbria in the northwest of England.

Environmental campaigners have consistently argued against the $205m (£165m) development, as they claim that the construction and operation of the mine would impede the UK’s ability to reach its net-zero commitments. The mine’s supporters claim that it would bring economic advancement to the area.

Climate minister Graham Stuart, who supported the opening of the Cumbrian coal mine, recently called for a more nuanced approach to fossil fuels within the UK, instead of “viewing all fossil fuels as the spawn of the devil”. He went on: “There is no red button which ends all use of fossil fuels tomorrow”.

Teverson added: “At COP26 in Glasgow, only a year and a half ago, the government proudly announced that it was leading an international effort to end the use of coal. We must hold them to this when the energy bill reaches the House of Commons”.

In addition to the coal amendments, the House of Lords also called for amendments on: “Powers to introduce social energy tariffs, the role of energy authorities in delivering the future energy system and reducing the effects of offshore wind on marine habitats”.