UK’s first deep coal mine in decades given approval in ‘kick in teeth in fight to tackle climate change’

Conservative MP says ‘common sense has prevailed’, while campaigners say ‘coal should be consigned to the history books’

Samuel Osborne
Sunday 03 November 2019 17:06 GMT
New £165m coal mine in Cumbria 'unanimously approved' by councillors despite escalating climate change crisis

The government has decided to allow the construction of the UK’s first deep coal mine in decades, in a move described as “a massive kick in the teeth in the fight to tackle climate change”.

West Cumbria Mining said the new mine in the county would cost £165m and create 500 jobs.

County councillors gave the project the go-ahead in March, but Tim Farron, the Westmorland and Lonsdale Liberal Democrat MP, called for the government to “call in” the decision, but his application was rejected.

Mr Farron said: “The government’s decision to approve a new coal mine in Cumbria is a massive kick in the teeth in the fight to tackle climate change.

“Cumbria has so many renewable resources to provide energy – water, wind and solar – and we should most definitely not be taking the backwards step of opening a new coal mine.”

However, Trudy Harrison, Conservative MP for Copeland, described the decision as “fantastic news”.

She said: “It is vital that this development goes ahead and I am pleased that common sense has prevailed.

“Woodhouse colliery has been recognised for its importance to the steel industry and to UK export. Coking coal is essential for the steel industry and this has been rightly recognised.”

West Cumbria Mining said the mine, named Woodhouse Colliery, would extract coking coal along the coastline between Whitehaven and St Bees in Copeland.

The fossil fuel will then be extracted at a nearby plant.

Construction should begin in early 2020, the company said, with coal production beginning around two years later.

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When the mine was first approved in March, Friends of the Earth clean energy campaigner Tony Bosworth told The Independent: “This is awful news for our environment.

“If we want to avoid dangerous climate change, giving the go-ahead to a new coal mine takes us in completely the wrong direction.

“Coal for power generation is currently being phased-out. Industries like steel and cement must make the shift to cleaner energy a top priority.

“It’s time to consign coal to the history books where it now belongs.”

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