A public inquiry into the plans for what is described as the UK’s first new deep coal mine for 30 years has been launched today.
The inquiry into the proposed coal mine in West Cumbria will be conducted online and is expected to last four weeks.
After its conclusion, the planning inspector will make a recommendation to the Secretary of State for Local Government, Housing and Communities with a final decision expected by spring next year.
The government has initially refused to intervene when Cumbria County Council granted planning permission to West Cumbria Mining for a new coal mine.
In February, Lord Deben, Chairman of the Climate Change Committee (CCC) warned the site could increase global emissions and undermine the UK’s leadership of COP26.
One month later, the Ministry of Housing sent a letter to Cumbria County Council to ‘call in’ the application for the new coal mine, triggering a public inquiry.
Friends of the Earth Climate Campaigner Tony Bosworth said: “The prospect of a new mine in Cumbria casts a long shadow over the UK government’s climate strategy and its hosting of crucial climate talks in Glasgow in a few weeks’ time.
“The government has said coal must be consigned to the history books and this must mean all coal not just that used for power generation.
“With the world hurtling towards catastrophic climate change we should be slamming on the brakes, not hitting the accelerator with yet more fossil fuels.”
A government spokesperson said: “The UK was the first major world economy to pass a net zero emissions target into law.
“Coal has no part to play in our future power generation and will be phased out by 2024, a year earlier than planned, which is on top of important steps we are taking to decarbonise industries that still rely on coal.
“The public inquiry into the Whitehaven mine begins today and it would not be appropriate to comment further.”