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SoS opts not to call in Cumbrian coal mine proposal

Words: Laura Edgar
Coal mining / Shutterstock: 512270401

Housing and communities secretary Robert Jenrick has not decided not to call in an application for a new underground mine to be located on a brownfield site south-west of Whitehaven. The decision has been criticised by environmental campaigners.

West Cumbria Mining’s Cumbria Metallurgical Coal Project will be known as Woodhouse Colliery. The £165 million scheme could create about 500 jobs and will supply metallurgical coal to the steel industry.

Cumbria County Council approved the scheme in October 2020.

In September, Jenrick rejected Banks Mining's plans for a coal mine near Druridge Bay in Northumberland.

In his decision letter, he noted that demand for coal for electricity generation had “continued to decline since the previous decision was quashed”, and that the appellant was now selling 90 per cent of its output to non-power station customers. On this basis, he ruled, the weight to be attached to the need for coal should be “no more than moderate”.

Friends of the Earth coal campaigner Tony Bosworth said not calling in the Cumbria scheme following that decision “shows jaw-dropping inconsistency”.

“Only a few short months ago, the government cast real doubts over industry’s demand for coal, beyond the short term, when rejecting an opencast mine at Druridge Bay in Northumberland. And last month the government said it would no longer support fossil fuel projects overseas.

“Allowing coal to be extracted from this proposed mine for over a quarter of a century completely undermines the government’s credibility on the climate crisis – especially ahead of the crucial UN summit later this year, which the UK is hosting.

“Global leadership on the climate emergency means leaving coal in the ground, where it belongs.”

Dr Ruth Balogh of West Cumbria & North Lakes Friends of the Earth, added: “It’s astonishing and desperately disappointing that the government isn’t calling in this damaging coal mine.

“West Cumbia badly needs local jobs – but these should be generated by investing in clean energy and building a greener future, not industries that threaten the planet.

“The region has already experienced the effects of the climate crisis from recent flooding. Unless we say no to fossil fuels this will only get worse.”

Greenpeace UK's policy director, Doug Parr, said: “We are in a climate emergency and in no way, shape, or form should this or any new coal mine be granted planning permission. How can the government expect to claim global leadership as it hosts international climate talks later this year after giving this the green light?

“Claims that it will be carbon-neutral is like claiming an oil rig is a wind turbine. Of course, job creation is absolutely vital to communities, but we must look forward to the jobs of 21st century, not back to those in declining industries. Robert Jenrick needs to immediately reverse his decision not to call this in and then can the project completely.”

In a statement sent to The Planner, a Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government spokesperson said: “Planning decisions should be made at a local level wherever possible. This application has not been called in and is a matter for Cumbria County Council to decide.”

Read more:

Council approves Cumbrian underground mine

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