What’s the fuss about the Cumbria coal mine?

Image credit: ft.com

The government has been given until July 7 to decide whether or not to proceed with a new coal mine in the UK.

The Planning Inspectorate has sent its final assessment on the Cumbria mine to Communities Secretary Michael Gove, who now needs to make the final decision.

Boris Johnson has previously stated that he is “not in favour of more coal.” But with Russia providing 40% of the UK’s coking coal, would the government’s stance alter as a result of the conflict in Ukraine?

The Sellafield nuclear power plant dominates the region in northwest England, and West Cumbria Mining promises hundreds of well-paid jobs.

The mine’s coal will be used primarily to support the steel-making process in the United Kingdom rather than for general energy purposes.

Using British coal could also reduce the amount of carbon emitted when it is shipped from Australia or North America; it is estimated that moving coal around the world produces 1.28 billion tonnes of carbon.

The United Kingdom, along with other nations, has vowed to dramatically reduce carbon emissions. The government’s climate advisory committee, the Climate Change Committee, is also concerned that allowing this mine to open will exacerbate the problem.

According to the report, steel companies must stop burning coal by 2035 to achieve the deadline unless they install costly technology to absorb pollutants and bury them underground.

According to the committee, 85 per cent of Cumbrian coal is already exported, and every additional tonne of coal on the global market tends to lower prices while increasing emissions.

Cumbria County Council had initially supported the new mine’s plans, but in February opted to reconsider.

Following a public hearing that ended in October, the Planning Inspectorate has officially finalised its findings on the mine.

This report was delivered to Mr Gove, who is required by planning legislation to make that judgement without consulting his colleagues. With his reputation on the line, it’s hard to believe Boris Johnson won’t find a way to point him on the correct path, whichever way he thinks that is.