A new Coal Mine in Cumbria?
A planning application for this coal mine was first submitted to Cumbria County Council by West Cumbria Mining (WCM) in May 2017, but the proposal has been amended significantly by the applicant three times in the intervening years . The latest version of the mine proposal was approved on the 7thDecember 2022 by Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (LUHC) following a planning inquiry in September 2021.
On the 13th January 2023 South Lakes Action on Climate Change [SLACC] lodged papers at the High Court in Manchester launching a legal challenge to Mr Gove’s decision.
SLACC is asking the High Court for permission to bring a Statutory Review of Gove’s decision, and sets out four grounds of challenge which, in SLACC’s view, mean that the decision was unlawful and should be quashed.
Gove acknowledged that 220 million tonnes of greenhouse gases would be released from the coal extracted over the mine’s lifetime, and that most of the coal would be exported rather than used in the UK or EU,. explained Carole Wood, Chair of SLACC, but he still concluded that the mine would be “climate neutral or slightly beneficial”.
Our claim sets out the errors in law; the failure to give intelligible reasons, and the disparity of treatment between the parties that Gove employed to arrive at this contradictory conclusion..
There are several more stages to the process and it may take several months before the final outcome of this challenge is clear.
- Coal Mine case to be heard 24th-26th OctoberYou have probably heard that the “rolled up” hearing of our legal challenge of Michael Gove’s decision to approve the new coal mine at Whitehaven is scheduled for 3 days in October. It will be heard at the Royal Courts of Justice in London. There are 3 possibilities: a) the Court will decide there is …
Public Enquiry Evidence (selection of)
Six reasons why SLACC opposed the proposed Cumbria coal mine
The Public Inquiry held in September and October 2021 raised a series of arguments against the proposed mine. We can best summarise the arguments against the mine with these six reasons:
The proposed mine will add 9,000,000 Tonnes of CO2 every year at a time when the world is aiming to reduce and eliminate emissions from coal. This is a huge amount – significant for Cumbria, the UK and the world.
2. Global Leadership
The global political consensus is to reduce and eliminate coal as a fuel source because of the huge amount of CO2 it creates. To do this means not only closing existing mines but not opening new ones. The UK continues as the host country of COP for the next year, during which time it will be challenging China, India and other countries on their plans for using coal. It will lose credibility with other countries in this process if it approves this mine.
3. Low Carbon Steel is the Future
The steel industry understands the problem of using coal, and every major steel producer is investigating and investing in alternative fuel sources such as hydrogen. Buyers of steel are also increasing demanding ‘low carbon steel’ which is pushing progress faster than foreseen even two years ago. The proposed mine will likely be obsolete long before it’s proposed end date of 2049.
4. High Sulphur Content
The proposed Cumbria mine will produce a quality of coal that is not suitable for UK and European steel makers, being too high in suphur. It will therefore not replace imports as advertised. Rather, it will rely upon global export markets and therefore higher delivered costs. It will also reach full production just as steel companies are reducing their reliance upon coal. This will cast a long shadow on the number and the quality of the jobs on offer.
West Cumbria needs jobs that have a future. A variety of studies have highlighted the exiting potential for jobs tied to renewable energy, energy efficiency and a low carbon Cumbria. Such jobs would be created across a wide range of companies and sectors delivering a resilient working environment. What’s needed is a collective effort from central and local governments, academia, and business to make these happen.
6. Ancient Woodland
The proposed development would lead to destruction of an area of ancient woodland. England is one of the countries that has been most denuded of its ancient woodlands. We should be restoring and regenerating what is left, not cutting more down.
Our final closing statement can be found above, together with the detailed rebuttals that our experts submitted during the Inquiry.