Cumbria CC’s re-consideration of Coal mine delayed until June

Opponents of the Coal Mine proposed by West Cumbria Mining at Whitehaven now have more time to make their case! The County Council has announced that the Development Control and Regulation (DC&R) Committee will not consider the new evidence on the 6th Carbon Budget until June, and even if there is no official “reconsultation” period, any relevant comments or information submitted to the Committee will have to be considered. THERE IS NO RUSH. The Committee Report will probably be finalised in May, and will be released to the public a week before the actual Committee date.

SLACC is clear that this mine should not be given permission. It will cause additional coking coal to be extracted across the world. It will increase global GHG and contribute to deadly climate change. We are clear that the cumulative GHG emissions from the use of coking coal in steel making over the lifetime of the mine would be significantly higher if the mine came into operation, than if it was refused and could not commence. James Hansen and the UK’s Committee on Climate Change accept this as an obvious fact.

Cumbria County Council already accepted that IF THIS WERE SO, the mine would not confirm to planning law and regulations: there would be “likely environmental effects” from the GHG from the use of this coking coal (and from the operations of the mine) which would have to be balanced against any benefits such as jobs and local economic benefit. They also conceded that GHG emissions from the use of the coal were in the region of an estimate of 8.5Mtpa produced by objectors to the mine. BUT THEY CLAIMED IT WAS ACTUALLY ZERO because a) UK and EU steel production up to 2050 depended on coking coal and b) mines elsewhere in the world would reduce their production of coal tonne for tonne leaving global production and use unchanged.

Supporters of the mine do not now say that they believe the mine to be “Carbon Neutral”, but everything they say assumes that to be the case. Perhaps they don’t understand planning legislation, and may not appreciate how technology, and climate reduction obligations have changed repeatedly since the idea for this mine was first mooted in 2012. To help with this, SLACC will soon be launching a new fact checker on this section of our webpage. We are going to also provide simple and clear signposting to: how to post effective objections; relevant evidence; and possibly links to other environmental groups campaigning against the mine. Cumbria residents may be able to start (respectful and positive) dialogue with their own County Councillors to try and find out how these misunderstandings have become embedded.

If you feel desperate about our democracy, and how a new coal mine in the UK could undermine the COP26 Climate talks in Glasgow, or you want to see a healthy future for Cumbria workers in good jobs that are not below ground (!) please watch this space!