The Welsh Government and UK Coal Authority will face a legal challenge over the expansion of Aberpergwm coal mine, a judge has decided.

The challenge, brought by the climate change group Coal Action Network (CAN), relates to the granting of an expansion license that will see a further forty million tonnes of coal extracted from the Neath site over the next twenty years.

Both the Welsh Government and the Coal Authority say that they were unable to prevent the expansion from going ahead - claims which CAN dispute, and will now be tested at a judicial review.

READ MORE: Climate crisis: Welsh Government 'don't want to own' Aberpergwm mine decision

"It's official: a judge approved our Judicial review of the disastrous Aberpergwm coal mine expansion," CAN announced via social media today.

"We don't know how to give up because there is everything to fight for," the group added.

The Global Energy Monitor research group estimates that Aberpergwm mine, one of Europe’s largest sources of the carbon-heavy anthracite coal variety used to make steel, could emit an eyewatering 100m tonnes of CO2 over the course of its license period.

The site supplies the nearby Tata Steelworks, at Port Talbot, the UK’s second highest source of carbon emissions as of 2019.

Amid an escalating climate crisis, both the UK and Welsh governments have committed to ending the extraction and use of fossil fuels.

In a 2021 policy document, the Welsh Labour Government said there was "no clear case for expanding the supply of coal from within the UK", adding that ministers "[did] not intend to authorise new Coal Authority mining operation licences or variations to existing licences."

However, as the expansion license for Aberpergwm was originally granted before the Welsh Government gained authority to block such decisions, it claims that it has no power to intervene. 

At the same time, the UK Coal Authority says it cannot refuse the license unless a Welsh Government minister instructs it to.

CAN says they're both wrong. You can read more about the background of the case here.

Earlier this year, the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a report - approved by all of the world's governments - which concluded that “immediate and deep” cuts to carbon emissions are needed to avoid further climate catastrophe.

Existing fossil fuel projects - and those currently planned - are already more than the climate can handle, the report said.

In a previous report, labelled a "code red for humanity", the IPCC observed that "greenhouse‑gas emissions from fossil-fuel burning and deforestation are choking our planet and putting billions of people at immediate risk", with every rise in temperature increasing the likelihood of extreme weather events, famine and disease.

If you value The National's journalism, help grow our team of reporters by becoming a subscriber.