In 2021, the UK imported 4.6 million metric tons of coal and exported 1.1 million metric tons of coal.
Cumbria coalmine decision branded ‘dereliction of duty’
The Government’s decision to grant planning permission for a new coalmine in Cumbria is a ‘shocking dereliction of duty’, planners say. Levelling up secretary Michael Gove has given the Whitehaven coalmine – the first new coalmine in the UK in 30 years – the green light despite concerns over climate change. The Climate Change Committee’s (CCC) net zero pathway analysis forecasts there will be 400,000 tonnes of direct CO2e emissions from open and closed mines by 2050. According to the planning inspectorate’s report into the proposals for the mine, there will be 52,000 tonnes of direct CO2e emissions in the final year of production from the proposed mine. The mine will be decommissioned in 2050. It is estimated that the mine will create 532 jobs.
The planning inspectorate concluded the new mine would have an ‘overall neutral effect on climate change’. A Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities (DLUHC) spokesperson said: ‘The Secretary of State has agreed to grant planning permission for a new metallurgical coal mine in Cumbria as recommended by the independent planning inspector. ‘This coal will be used for the production of steel and would otherwise need to be imported. It will not be used for power generation. ‘The mine seeks to be net zero in its operations and is expected to contribute to local employment and the wider economy.’ Responding to the decision, Hugh Ellis, director of policy at the Town and Country Planning Association said the decision undermines the Government’s claimed to be aiming for net zero. ‘Michael Gove’s decision to permit the development of a new coal mine in Whitehaven is a shocking dereliction of duty. The evidence is clear: any new fossil fuel exploration would undermine the UK’s international commitments on reaching net zero by 2050,’ he said. ‘This Government was elected in 2019 on a mandate to protect our climate and to level up the regions and nations of the UK. This is a huge, missed opportunity to invest in green jobs in Cumbria. And the environmental impact will be severe and long-lasting with consequences fatal for many of the UK’s coastal communities.’ Tom Fyans, interim CEO at CPRE, the countryside charity, described the decision as ‘shamefull’.
‘Nothing says out of touch like a Government that has just become the first in more than 30 years to approve a new deep coal mine in the UK. This absurdly retrograde decision will shackle us to the past at the precise moment the steel industry is transitioning to an environmentally sustainable future,’ he said. ? ‘Instead of grasping the opportunity to lead the world in a clean and green industrial revolution, here we are clinging onto the dirty coal that powered and poisoned the Victorian era. This shameful decision beggers belief. It will degrade the countryside, pollute the atmosphere and makes a mockery of the Government’s legally binding climate commitments.’ A Cumbria County Council spokesperson said: ‘This decision to award planning permission was made by the Secretary of State following a full planning inquiry presided over by an independent planning inspector but in approving the scheme the Government is effectively upholding the earlier decisions which were taken by the county council’s planning committee before it was called in.’