Log in | Register

Cumbrian coal mine plan goes ahead as ministers launch global warming review

Words: Huw Morris
Coal mining / Shutterstock: 512270401

The UK’s first deep coal mine in decades is to go ahead after the government decided not to intervene.

In March, Cumbria County Council unanimously approved the West Cumbria Mining scheme near the site of the former Haig Colliery in Whitehaven, which was shut in 1986.

The move comes as the Treasury launched a major review that will determine how the UK ends its contribution to global warming.

The Woodhouse Colliery would extract coking coal from the seabed off St Bees, with a processing plant on the former Marchon site at Kells. The £165 million scheme could create around 500 jobs.

West Cumbria Mining hopes the mine will produce around 2.5 million tonnes of hard metallurgical coal a year for around 50 years. It said it will now “start the process of delivering on its plan to build one of the most modern mines in the world, supplying the UK and international steel industry, deliver hundreds of local jobs and deliver a first-class supply chain across the county”.

Liberal Democrat MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale Tim Farron, who had asked the government to call in the application described the decision as “a kick in the teeth in the fight to tackle climate change”.

He added: “Cumbria has so many renewable resources to provide energy – water, wind and solar – and we should most definitely not be taking the backwards step of opening a new coal mine.”

Work could begin on the site early next year, with coal production starting in 2022.

The Treasury’s Net Zero Review, the first of its kind, will assess how the UK can maximise economic growth opportunities from its transformation to a green economy.

“The UK is leading the way on tackling climate change as the first major economy to legislate for net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050,” said chancellor Sajid Javid. “This review is a vital next step in delivering that commitment, ensuring that we can end our contribution to global warming, while supporting growth and balancing costs, to avoid placing unfair burdens on families or businesses.”

The review will also consider how to ensure the UK can cut emissions without seeing them exported elsewhere. A final report will be published in autumn 2020, ahead of the UK hosting the UN climate change conference in Glasgow in November of that year.

Kellingly Colliery in North Yorkshire, the last deep coal mine in the UK, closed in 2015.

Image credit | Shutterstock