At the end of 2021, Boris Johnson said, “I’m not in favour of more coal” in response to questions about the proposed Whitehaven coking coal mine during the Glasgow COP26 climate summit. Yet today a massive new underground coking coal mine has been approved just after COP27. The coal will largely be sold abroad as it is too polluting to be used by UK steel works. 
Since 2014, West Cumbria Mining Ltd has been looking to extract 2.78 million tonnes a year of coking coal off Whitehaven. Today, Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities approved the mine following a public inquiry in September 2021. Both South Lakes Action on Climate Change (SLACC) and Friends of the Earth presented evidence as formal participants at the inquiry. There will likely be further legal action by one or both organisations against the approval. You can support the legal battle against the mine (live 8th December). Further permissions are still needed for the mine to commence.
"I am appalled that Michael Gove, has approved a new coal mine in Cumbria. The UK Government has failed to keep UK planning law and guidance on coal in line with UK Climate targets, or with the needs of UK industry, leaving ambiguity, uncertainty and loopholes that have enabled an Australian coal company to extract coking coal unfit for the UK or EU steel industry right up to 2050. This is part of a pattern of UK consents for new oil, gas and coal extraction that makes a mockery of our supposed leadership role in this year of COP26.
Our government are failing to foster long lasting jobs either in West Cumbria or in the UK steel industry. Our legal team at Richard Buxton Solicitors, are examining the decision in detail to assess whether there are grounds for a legal challenge.
The government "is satisfied that there is currently a UK and European market for the coal (IR21.33), and that although there is no consensus on what future demand in the UK and Europe may be, it is highly likely that a global demand would remain (IR21.60)." This is despite the coal being largely unusable by UK steelmakers.
The decision letter goes on to say, "the development of the mine would not encourage the continued use of blast furnace production methods that would otherwise have been closed or converted to lower carbon technologies" which flies against reason.
Prior to the government deciding that it would make this planning decision, over-ruling Cumbria County Council, Lord Deben Chair, Climate Change Committee wrote to Michael Gove’s predecessor. Lord Deben said, “The opening of a new deep coking coal mine in Cumbria will increase global emissions and have an appreciable impact on the UK’s legally binding carbon budgets. The mine is projected to increase UK emissions by 0.4Mt CO 2 e per year. This is greater than the level of annual emissions we have projected from all open UK coal mines to 2050.”
He went on to say, “Coking coal use in steelmaking could be displaced completely by 2035, using a combination of hydrogen direct reduction and electric arc furnace technology to meet our recommendation that UK ore-based steelmaking be near-zero emissions by 2035.”
Coal Action Network will continue to work with local people and others in opposition to this project. Get in touch (email@example.com) if you’d like to be part of it or if you have media inquiries.
 Cumbria County Council Executive Director - Economy and Infrastructure, Development control and regulation committee Application Reference No:4/17/90077.17 (2 October 2020) multiple points, page 32
 There are 3 others in the licencing and planning system at present. Aberpergwm extension, Lochinvar coking coal mine, and Glan Lash opencast extension. Coal Action Network is fighting all of these applications with local people.
We are an environmental organisation dedicated to ending coal mining and use in the UK for the sake of our collective climate and ecosystems. So you’d think we’d celebrate the claim by Merthyr (South Wales) Ltd that it will finally stop mining coal today at Ffos-y-fran in Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales. But we’re not. Because the abject failure of Merthyr County Borough Council to stop…
People hailing from Cumbria to London, and everywhere in between, descended on the Mines and Money Conference in London across two days (28th-29th Nov 2023). We demanded that investors stop pouring cash into the mining sector, and instead invest in our collective future. Together with Fossil Free London and other groups, we greeted investors with…
The insurers that have ruled out underwriting the mine are AEGIS Managing Agency, Argenta Syndicate Management, Hannover Re and Talanx. These are the first financial institutions to rule out any involvement with the project, and the win represents a new phase in the campaign to stop the project from going ahead.
Today’s global actions focused specifically on the state-owned China Export & Credit Insurance Corporation (Sinosure), the Export-Import Bank of China (China Exim), and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC). Sinosure is said to be in advanced talks with the Ugandan government about providing credit for the project.
On 18th October dozens of protesters staged a sit-in occupation of the plush City of London offices of ten Lloyd’s of London insurers demanding they rule out insuring the proposed West Cumbria coal mine and East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP).
Global mining companies are coming to London soon attempting to find investors in their ruinous projects at the Mines and Money Conference (28th to 30th November). Join our protests against it!
01 September 2022: Merthyr (South Wales) Ltd applies for a S.73 time extension to mine coal from Ffos-y-fran, and to accordingly delay and vary restoration works.
06 September 2022: Planning permission ends for coal mining at the Ffos-y-fran site, after 15 years and 3 months of operations.
12 September 2022: first reports to MTCBC have been made by local residents of coaling beyond the end of planning permission.
Over 30 Welsh NGOs and businesses have signed a letter to Welsh Minister Julie James and Deputy Minister Lee Waters, demanding they draw a line in the sand and announce ban on any further coal mines on Welsh soil. The letter was delivered on 11th October 2023.
On 15th September 2023, The Guardian reported that Tata Steel accepted Government funding to avoid closing its steelworks in Port Talbot, South Wales, by decarbonising it instead – but at a loss of up to 3,000 jobs. The UK Government is providing £500 million, and Tata Steel is expected to provide another £725 million…