Old King Coal still reigns
28 Jul 2008
By Stephen Price
It's cheap and dirty, and countries all over the world can't get enough of it.
The Hoo peninsula in southeast England lies between two important rivers, the Thames and the Medway. Its flat marshland is famous in literature as the dreary yet menacing backdrop for the opening chapters of Great Expectations.
With London close by, today the Hoo is home to no fewer than three power stations, a container terminal and a large gas storage facility, but entire swathes are still almost as empty as they were in Charles Dickens's day and are environmentally protected.
One of the power stations in particular, near the small village of Kingsnorth, has become the focus of a huge debate in Britain: whether the country should continue burning coal. It's an interesting one, because it shows that the wider population has finally woken up to an uncomfortable fact - basic, old-fashioned coal is the most dangerous energy source of all.