Campaigners say Gove must reject ‘indefensible’ Cumbrian coal mine

A decision on plans for a controversial coal mine in Cumbria is due in just a few days and campaigners say they must be rejected to ensure the UK’s climate targets are met.  

Deadlines for a decision on the coal mine have already been delayed three times, with the latest delay being just before COP27. Now Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Secretary Michael Gove has until Thursday December 8 to confirm if the plans will go ahead.  

The coal mine has been controversial since the UK agreed to phase out coal at COP26 and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak pledged to make the country a ‘clean energy superpower’ at this year’s climate conference.  

green backhoe digging hole in the middle of mountain

Lord Deben, chairman of the government advisory body on climate change, called the proposed coal mine ‘absolutely indefensible’ earlier this year and said it would ‘not contribute anything to domestic needs.’  

Campaigners, including Tony Bosworth from Friends of the Earth, are urging Gove to drop the plans, as the mine could incumber the UK’s climate targets: ‘Michael Gove cannot ignore the mountain of evidence stacked up against this mine. It will have a significant impact on the UK’s legally-binding climate targets, while the market for the mine’s coal is already starting to evaporate with the steel industry rapidly investing in green production. 

 ‘Areas like West Cumbria must be at the heart of a rapid transition to a green economy. This will help power our homes and industry and create the new jobs and opportunities that are so urgently required.’  

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has said no new coal mines should be approved if the world is to meet net-zero by 2050, as coal is the single biggest source of CO2 emissions.  

Businesses have also expressed doubts on the mine, as British Steel in Scunthorpe said they couldn’t use any coal from Cumbria due to its sulphur content, while Tata Steel in Port Talbot has said it’s moving away from coal use altogether.  

Photo by Bart van Dijk


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