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‘Deeply damaging mistake’: UK’s decision to approve a new coal mine criticized as misguided

This picture, taken in March 2021, reveals the positioning the place the brand new facility can be developed.

Christopher Furlong | Getty Photographs Information | Getty Photographs

LONDON — Plans for a deep coal mine within the northwest of England got the green light by the U.K. government, a call that is been welcomed by its backers however slammed by critics.

In an announcement reacting to the information, the agency behind the event mentioned it was “delighted with the choice.”

West Cumbria Mining mentioned the Woodhouse Colliery, within the county of Cumbria, would provide “the crucial metal trade with a high-quality metallurgical coal product.” In keeping with the enterprise, the venture will present roughly 500 direct jobs.  

The U.Okay. has an extended affiliation with coal mining, however the trade’s decline hit many communities laborious and is an emotive topic. The explanations for the federal government’s selections had been outlined in an intensive document published online on Wednesday.

Amongst different issues, it mentioned Michael Gove, the secretary of state for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities, was “glad that there’s presently a UK and European marketplace for the coal … and that though there isn’t a consensus on what future demand within the UK and Europe could also be, it’s extremely probably {that a} world demand would stay.”

The approval for the Woodhouse Colliery was welcomed by Mike Starkie, the elected mayor of Copeland Borough Council in Cumbria. Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s “The World Tonight” on Wednesday, Starkie, who’s a member of the ruling Conservative Social gathering, described himself as “completely thrilled.”

“I have been inundated with messages from throughout my neighborhood tonight, and we have got a neighborhood in celebration about one of many greatest optimistic financial impacts on our space in a era,” he added. “That is implausible information for West Cumbria and for our neighborhood.”

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Starkie’s enthusiasm was not shared by all. “Phasing out coal use is the clearest requirement of the worldwide effort in the direction of Internet Zero,” Lord Deben, chairman of the Local weather Change Committee, an impartial physique which advises the U.Okay. authorities, mentioned.

“We condemn, subsequently, the Secretary of State’s choice to consent a brand new deep coal mine in Cumbria, contrary to our previous advice,” Deben added.

He went on to state that the UK’s “hard-fought world affect on local weather” had been “diminished by at this time’s choice.”

Alongside the CCC, different organizations had been additionally crucial of the event shifting ahead. “That is an appalling choice,” Tony Bosworth, a campaigner at Buddies of the Earth, mentioned.

“Approving this mine is a misguided and deeply damaging mistake that flies within the face of all of the proof,” he added. “The mine is not wanted, will add to world local weather emissions, and will not substitute Russian coal.”

Greenpeace UK’s Coverage Director, Doug Parr, mentioned the mine would “do completely nothing for the UK’s power safety because the coal it accommodates can solely be used for steelmaking, not producing energy, and greater than 80% of it’s earmarked on the market in Europe anyway.”

“There is a technological revolution constructing in steel-making, however this method might make the UK a backwater within the Twenty first-century clear tech race,” Parr mentioned.

Elsewhere, Jen Carson, who’s head of trade on the Local weather Group, described the proposal to open the brand new coal mine as being “at odds with the metal sector, and the UK Authorities’s internet zero pledge.”

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Whereas it was essential to the planet’s industrialization and stays a vastly vital supply of electrical energy, coal has a considerable impact on the surroundings.

The U.S. Vitality Data Administration lists a range of emissions from coal combustion. These embrace carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, particulates and nitrogen oxides.

Elsewhere, Greenpeace has described coal as “the dirtiest, most polluting approach of manufacturing power.”

On the worldwide stage, the U.Okay.’s plans to develop a brand new website linked to the mining of fossil fuels are at odds with excessive profile worldwide voices equivalent to Antonio Guterres, the U.N. secretary basic.

“The one true path to power safety, secure energy costs, prosperity and a livable planet lies in abandoning polluting fossil fuels — particularly coal — and accelerating the renewables-based power transition,” he mentioned earlier this yr.

In an announcement despatched to CNBC on Thursday, a spokesperson for the Division for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities mentioned the secretary of state had “agreed to grant planning permission for a brand new metallurgical coal mine in Cumbria as beneficial by the impartial planning inspector.”

“This coal will likely be used for the manufacturing of metal and would in any other case should be imported,” they added.

“It won’t be used for energy era. The mine seeks to be internet zero in its operations and is anticipated to contribute to native employment and the broader economic system.”

“The explanations for the Secretary of State’s choice are set out in full in his printed letter, alongside the report of the impartial planning inspector who oversaw the inquiry into the proposal.”

CNBC additionally contacted West Cumbria Mining for remark, however had not obtained a response forward of this story’s publication.

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