The National Traction Engine Trust

NTET Statement

On 14th January 2019 the UK Government announced its 'clean air policy 2019'; for details of the announcement go to https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/clean-air-strategy-2019

 

Embedded in the announcement is a link to a 109 page downloadable pdf document that provides the detail of what DEFRA are proposing;  https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/770715/clean-air-strategy-2019.pdf

 

The NTET acknowledges that it is important that the problem of air-borne pollution is faced up to.  However, the announcements made today, whilst setting targets and deadlines and include proposals to strengthen the powers of local government to reduce air-borne pollution, do not contain sufficient specific details and do nothing at all to give guidance or reassurance to the members of heritage coal burning fraternity about what the future holds for them; there will certainly be severe consequences on the fraternity if domestic coal burn is drastically reduced or banned, because the already diminished UK coal mining industry will become unsustainable.

 

The NTET has been heavily involved through the newly-formed Heritage Fuels Alliance, chaired by James Hervey-Bathurst, which consists of the NTET, HRA, ABTEM, the Transport Trust, FBVHC and other land based or water-borne heritage coal burning groups, in making direct representation to DEFRA over the unintended consequences of its proposed policies.  The coal industry has also made representation to DEFRA who in return promised that the coal and the heritage communities would receive feedback and guidance before any announcements are made.

 

At a meeting on 7th November with DEFRA officials, we were assured that our activities came outside the scope of the consultation and strategy and that DEFRA would not plan to make any proposals that would restrict our activities or those of other heritage users such as preserved railways or industrial museums.

 

None of this is mentioned in the new Policy paper, although we read on page 60 of the pdf, which deals with 'Call for evidence and consultation on cleaner domestic burning' that 'We {DEFRA} are currently analysing the consultation responses, and intend to publish our formal response to this consultation in early 2019'.

 

At the NTET Engine Owners Conference held on 13th January 2019 the attendees were made aware of the possible difficulties that lie ahead and of the work of the Heritage Fuels Alliance in ensuring that the impact of the reduced availability of coal, and possible prohibitions of emitting smoke on our hobby is minimised.


In our meetings with DEFRA we have been reassured repeatedly by them that there is no intention to curtail the activities of the heritage coal burning fraternity but we see nothing in DEFRA's announcement today that alleviates those fears.


Already the rumour mill has gone into overdrive and public media is awash with personal, but uninformed doom and gloom interpretations of what will happen. 


The simple truth is that whilst there is genuine concern there is also a considerable amount of time to run before any of the proposals can become reality.  Importantly at this stage there are insufficient details on the working of proposals to make any bold ‘this is what is going to happen’ and ‘this is what we intend to do’ statements.  But be assured that the NTET, through its membership of the Heritage Fuels Alliance, which is already a member of the powerful lobbying group the Heritage Alliance, will continue to make very strong representation to government seeking from them an understanding and reassurances about the unintended consequences of its proposals.


There is no place for ‘mob mentality’, we should remain calm; the situation we are presented with is real but must be met with strong and measured representation.  That process has already started.

 

The NTET intends to make public a summary of its earlier response to DEFRA's consultation.

14 Jan 2019