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Disappointment as Government allows underground coking coal mine application to go ahead

We're disappointed to let you know that on the 6th January 2020, the Secretary of State for Housing Communities and Local Government, Robert Jenrick said that the government will not step in and review Cumbria County Council's decision to approve the Woodhouse Colliery Application.

West Cumbria Mining want to extract nearly 3 million tonnes of coking coal for export to Europe every year until 2049 from a site next to the coast at Whitehaven, Cumbria. In October 2020 Cumbria Council approved the amended application by West Cumbria Mining. Robert Jenrick has said in advance of the hearing, that if this were the decision he would consider 'calling it in' and deciding the application himself.

Campaign Group, South Lakes Action on Climate Change, towards transitions said in a statement, "The Secretary of State has decided NOT to "call in" the planning application! We are extremely disappointed (but not surprised) that Robert Jenrick is insisting that West Cumbria Mining's plan to extract nearly 3 million tonnes of coal a year is not considered to be of national importance, and can be simply a local decision. Even though Cumbria County Council restricted the permission to the end of 2049, rather than 2070 [as WCM had applied for] this is still an outrageous decision that flies in the face of the UK's promises to address climate change and their claim to leadership through this year's COP 26.

Very little of this coal will be suitable for the UK steel industry, and it will be exported with no enforceable control on where or how it is used. It will give rise to around 9 million tonnes of CO2e emissions annually for the next 30 years, and is likely to undermine both the decarbonisation of the steel industry and also the emerging pledges to reduce emissions.

However this is not the end of the struggle. Even before County Council issues the Decision Notice, SLACC's legal team at Richard Buxtons Solicitors will be assessing the options for taking further legal action." If you'd like to help SLACC's continued action against this application, could you donate to, or share their crowdfunder https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/westcumbriamineslacc/

At the October planning hearing it was clear that several of the Cumbria County Councillor's did not fully understand the climate change impacts of the proposal. Nor did they understand the submission from Professor Paul Ekins showing that extracting coking coal in the UK increases the amount of coal consumed, as it will be used in addition to that imported to Europe from abroad.

This is a missed opportunity for the UK government to show a commitment to tackling climate change and to place their faith in steel companies converting to use existing and developing ways to produce steel without coal. There are various ways being investigated to further this campaign against the mine. Sign up to our email list to be part of it.

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Henry Adams
1 year ago

end-use emissions around 9 million tonnes of CO2e per year

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