The coal industry was destroyed by Arthur Scargill. He could have had a deal with Mrs Thatcher by offering a strike free coal industry which would have enabled Mrs Thatcher to show that she was a better man that Ted Heath, one of her chief desires. In return, Scargill could have made three conditions.
First, a limit on the import of cheap nuclear electricity from France; secondly, more research on clean coal and thirdly to continue a ban on power stations using gas. Mrs Thatcher would have agreed readily to all these conditions and many pits could have stayed open. Mrs Thatcher hated the French; she has a degree in Chemistry and so would have welcomed chemical research on clean coal and like everyone with any scientific knowledge, she was horrified at the use of a premium fuel like gas in power stations where over half the heat is wasted.
The use of gas for 40% of electricity killed the coal industry and Arthur Scargill could have saved it but he chose to betray his members by his political ambitions. Then, as now, an intelligent energy policy would have used coal and nuclear. Both are abundant,( we have enough Uranium for 50 years and then we can use thorium,) both cost about one quarter as much as offshore wind. Coal waste is dirty but can be cleaned up as early pit heaps were; nuclear waste can be recycled or used as low grade heat, the amount is negligible compared to coal waste.
By building equal numbers of coal and nuclear plants, less CO2 would be produced than by wastefully using gas.
. It is unfortunate that some NUM members and Labour MPs regard nuclear power as an enemy when it is the best prospect to be built alongside coal in a low carbon environment.
Politicians talk about "clean coal" but the reality is that no carbon capture scheme has been successful so far. Excellent work is going on in universities ( including Newcastle) but there is no sign that the Government recognises that massive investment is needed. .
The disqualified competitor in University Challenge had a degree in chemistry from Oxford and was training to be an accountant. Until chemists earn more than accountants we will have problems with energy