A new Coal Mine in Cumbria?
Following a Public Inquiry in September 2021, Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, has the final say on the proposed new deep coal mine at Whitehaven, West Cumbria. He says this will be on or before the 7th July, but it could be sooner.
The coal would be from seams under the Irish Sea that were used for UK steel making in the past. However, the last Cumbria coal mine closed in 1986 and West Cumbria Mining (actually an Australian company) claimed in the Public Inquiry that the coal would replace coking coals from the USA that are being used in the UK steel industry at the moment.
Recent press articles have quoted “senior Tories” claiming that the coal from West Cumbria could replace Russian coal imports. However a senior steel industry figure, quoted in the Observer, said that the UK steel industry does not want or need a new coal mine from Cumbria, as they have already sourced all the coal they need from non-Russian sources, and they need lower sulphur coals. Ron Deelan, recently retired Chief Executive of British Steel also spoke out against the mine.
Mr Gove does not have to follow the Inspector’s recommendation, but he must base his decision on evidence submitted to the Public Inquiry, including SLACC’s evidence on “need” for the coal, which is entirely consistent with these voices from the UK Steel industry. ,
ACTION SUGGESTION Sign a petition from Greenpeace asking Gove to refuse the planning application, and spread the petition on social media.
- Coal Mine Decision DelayedWe were expecting a decision on the Cumbria Coal Mine on or before the 7th July but, at 3.30 pm on the 6th, received an email from the department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (LUHC) saying the decision would be delayed. The reason for the delay got clearer as the day progressed! Today, on …
Latest SLACC Documents
Public Enquiry Rebuttals
Six reasons why SLACC opposes 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.