How the ban on home coal fires will affect rural Britain, says IAN GREGORY

Government data shows that there are already 2.5 million families in fuel poverty. Already there are 17,000 deaths a year caused by cold homes.

Yet it plans to take away the cheapest source of keeping warm for the millions of people who are not on the gas grid.

It says everything that not once did the Government’s press release mention the impact on the poor.

There is a moral imperative for MPs in the North of England to reverse this policy before it adds to deaths from hypothermia.

Briquettes cost twice as much as coal. People in rural areas simply don’t have that money. Nor can they afford the £8 a bag kiln-dried wood which rich folk in the South-East use.

Yet even if they could it would be worse for their health than using coal. That’s because the fine particle pollution caused by dried wood is 25% higher than with coal.  Many will use wet wood instead - which is the most polluting of all.

This ban is part of a Government strategy against coal which is spectacularly counterproductive for CO2 emissions. By blocking domestic coal mines the Government has forced industry to import 92 percent of our coal needs. That coal is being dragged from Australia and Russia producing carbon transport costs equivalent to 200 jumbo jets permanently circling the Earth.

Boris Johnson’s green policies make Leonardo DiCaprio seem virtuous.

Extinction Rebellion says we should just stop using coal - but that would cause extinction to our steel industry which currently has to use coal. Should we stop making steel, cement and all the other products? That would move us back to the stone age - when we used to burn trees to keep warm.

Even the Government’s proudest anti-coal policy of banning power generation with coal is brimming with hypocrisy because we will instead be importing electricity from Germany - a country which is about to open a new coal power station to supply us with that electricity. Can Government policy be this stupid? Yes.

Our green policies have descended into childish slogans instead of hard science and hard-nosed politics.

Keeping people warm is even more fundamental than keeping the lights on. Many more people die around the world from being too cold than too warm.

For a Government reliant on Northern voters the coal fire ban is madness. For it to announce the move in winter smells like civil servants trying to sabotage Boris Johnson’s Northern Wall.

• Ian Gregory is a fuel industry adviser.

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