While 7 July 2022 was the expected date for a government decision on whether to grant planning permission to the controversial coal mine, it was deferred due to the confusion of the rearrangements among government cabinet and ministers and currently 8 November 2022 is the determined date for specifying the fate of proposed £165M coal mine in west Cumbria.
Although the expected new deadline for the decision was 17 August, the secretary of state for leveling up, housing, and communities Greg Clark has announced that the decision date will once again be pushed back.
According to a statement from the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC): “This is a complex matter and officials are not yet in a position to complete their considerations prior to providing advice to ministers.”
While the new timetable sets the decision deadline for this autumn, the DLUHC said it will issue the decision as quickly as possible.
In October 2020, the Cumbria County Council already approved the plans for the £165M coal mine, and then in order to carry out a formal evaluation of the scheme, the former communities’ secretary Robert Jenrick called in the decision and asked the Planning Inspectorate.
Planning inspector. Stephen Normington opened a public inquiry in September 2021 and over the course of many months took evidence from environmental groups, stakeholders, and the government. The findings have since been submitted to planning ministers, who are still considering the report.
Considering that allowing coal mining to go ahead would seriously undermine the UK’s climate credibility by raising carbon emissions, the plan has come under strong criticism from environmental advocates. It has also been argued that demand for coal is decreasing and that there is no substance to the idea that being cut off from Russia will necessitate the UK to produce more of its own coal.
“The case against this coal mine is overwhelming regardless of how many times the decision is delayed. The UK and European markets for coking coal are set to rapidly diminish as manufacturers switch to greener steel, while coal from this mine won’t replace Russian imports. However, this new mine will increase carbon emissions, with the government’s climate watchdog describing it as absolutely indefensible,” said Friends of the Earth spokesperson Victoria Marsom.
She also added: “Fossil fuels cause enormous damage to both our environment and economy. Areas like Cumbria should be at the heart of building the greener future we need, so they can reap the benefits of the new jobs and opportunities this would bring.”
According to West Cumbria Mining, which has been working on the plans for the mine since 2014: ” The coal mined will be used for metallurgical purposes and the mining operation would reduce reliance on imported coal. The 16.4 M.t of coal for steel production are imported to the UK and Europe from the US each year and have a UK source for 3 M.t would cut 20,000 t of carbon dioxide emissions each year.”