Soldiers were set to be deployed to move coal to power stations during an anticipated confrontation with miners over pit closures, newly-released archives have revealed.
In secret papers from late 1982 - almost 18 months before the miners’ strike started -officials warned then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher that coal stocks would last just nine weeks if there was a strike.
The documents, released under the 30-year rule for old Government papers to be made public, revealed Thatcher and members of her cabinet approved the idea of using troops as part of preparations for an expected clash with the National Union of Mineworkers over pit closures.
The archive material released is from a Whitehall committee codenamed MISC57, which was established to plan for the closure of uneconomic pits and an national miners’ strike which was expected to follow.
Minutes from one meeting read: “It might be necessary to examine more radical options, including the use of servicemen to move pithead stocks to power stations by road and rail.”
Thatcher is thought to have planned early for a confrontation after the Government of her predecessor as Tory leader, Edward Heath, was brought down by a series of miners’ strikes.
No evidence has yet been released to show troops actuallly called upon in the 1984-5 strike in the end.