UK News

Cumbrian coal mine legal challenge refused

The proposed coal mine has received strong opposition from climate campaigners since the planning inquiry (Owen Humphreys/PA)
Danny Halpin, PA Environment Correspondent

Climate campaigners have been refused a legal challenge against the Government over its decision to grant planning permission to a new coal mine in Cumbria.

Friends of the Earth (FoE) and South Lakes Action on Climate Change (SLACC) said they will ask the High Court to reconsider its refusal to grant a judicial review.

In December, Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove approved what is set to be the first new coal mine in the UK in 30 years.

His department said it will be used for steel, not power generation, and supporters of the development have said it will create 500 jobs.

FoE and SLACC said Mr Gove failed to account for the significant climate impacts of the mine and whether carbon credits to offset its emissions would be accepted elsewhere.

They were also concerned about the international precedent of opening a new coal mine.

Carole Wood, chair of SLACC, said: “We are disappointed with this decision but we and our legal team are firmly of the view that there are legal errors in the Government’s decision to permit the mine.

“The Government sought to turn a blind eye to the climate impacts from burning the coal that will be produced by the mine, and we look forward to a hearing to consider whether this approach can be lawful.”

Chris Skidmore MP, who produced a report on how to reach net zero, said in January that the decision to approve the mine was a “mistake” and it will not be built if the Government takes up his recommendations.

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Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove approved planning permission for the mine in December following recommendations of an independent planning inspector (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

A spokesperson from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, said: “The secretary of state has agreed to grant planning permission for a new metallurgical coal mine in Cumbria as recommended by the independent planning inspector.

“The reasons for the secretary of state’s decision are set out in full in his published letter, alongside the report of the independent planning inspector who oversaw the inquiry.

“It would be inappropriate to comment further given ongoing legal proceedings.”

FoE campaigner Tony Bosworth said: “This isn’t the decision we had hoped for but it isn’t the end of the line.

“We still believe that giving the go-ahead to the Whitehaven coal mine was unlawful and we will be asking the court to reconsider its decision.

“Opponents of the mine raised critically important, climate-related questions in the planning inquiry, but these were either fudged or avoided.

“With the world in an accelerating climate crisis, these issues cannot be ignored.”