Cumbria coal mine project would be ‘backward step’, says ex climate chief

Alok Sharma has said if the plan moves forward, it will “damage” the UK’s climate action reputation

Greenlighting a new coal mine in Cumbria has been touted as a ‘backward step’ in the UK’s climate efforts.

West Cumbria Mining‘s plan for a coking coal pit near Whitehaven was initially approved by the county council in 2020, but the decision was later withdrawn.

A decision on granting permission for the project is expected to be announced later this week.

Alok Sharma, who was the President of the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, said: “Opening a new coal mine will not only be a backward step for UK climate action but also damage the UK’s hard-won international reputation, through our COP26 Presidency, as a leader in the global fight against climate change.”

Campaigners had previously criticised the plan.

Victoria Marsom of Friends of the Earth said: “The case against this coal mine is overwhelming regardless of how many times the decision is delayed.

“The UK and European market for coking coal is 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.”

ELN has contacted the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities for comment.

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