CCC urges government to reconsider permission for Cumbrian coal mine

Lord Deben warns the site could increase global emissions and undermine the UK’s leadership of COP26

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The Climate Change Committee (CCC) has urged the government to reconsider planning permission given for a coal mine in Cumbria.

The Cumbrian Metallurgical Coal project consists of a new underground coal mine located on a brownfield site in Whitehaven, west Cumbria.

The project is predicted to process around 2.7 million tonnes of metallurgical coal every year, focused on supplying British and European steel-making plants.

Lord Deben, Chairman of CCC, has written to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities, and Local Government Robert Jenrick about the decision not to call in, or review, the recent decision of Cumbria County Council to grant planning permission to the new coal mine.

In his letter, he stresses that the opening of a new deep coking coal mine will increase global emissions and have an ‘appreciable’ impact on the UK’s legally binding carbon budgets.

He added: “The decision to award planning permission to 2049 will commit the UK to emissions from coking coal, for which there may be no domestic use after 2035. 85% of the coal is planned for export to Europe.”

Lord Deben acknowledges that this decision gives a negative impression of the UK’s climate priorities in the year of COP26.

According to the recent Sixth Carbon Budget, coking coal should only be used in steelmaking beyond 2035 if a very high proportion of the associated carbon emissions is captured and stored.

CCC had recommended using a combination of hydrogen direct reduction and electric arc furnace technology, to help the UK-ore based steelmaking sector meet the near-zero-emissions target by 2035.

A Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government spokesperson said: “Planning decisions should be made at a local level wherever possible.

“This application has not been called-in and is a matter for Cumbria County Council to decide.”

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