Cumbria coalmine choice delayed once more as critics condemn ‘zombie’ No 10

  • UK News
  • November 11, 2022
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A much-anticipated choice on whether or not the UK’s first new deep coalmine in additional than 30 years ought to go forward has been delayed once more.

The Division for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (LUHC) has written to Buddies of the Earth to tell the organisation that the brand new secretary of state, Greg Clark, has set a brand new deadline of 8 November to rule on whether or not the coalmine ought to be granted planning permission.

The letter mentioned: “It is a advanced matter and officers will not be but able to finish their issues previous to offering recommendation to ministers.”

An earlier July deadline was postponed till 17 August after Conservative MPs ousted Boris Johnson, the fallout of which resulted within the then levelling up secretary, Michael Gove, being sacked and a protracted management race being known as. The choice is one in all quite a few main calls which might be being delayed at current throughout a spread of presidency departments, resulting in opposition criticisms of a “zombie authorities” at No 10.

The controversial proposals to extract as much as 2.7m tonnes of metallurgical coal a 12 months from beneath the Irish Sea have stirred up sturdy native feeling inside Cumbria and had been topic to a public inquiry final September.

Supporters of the mine have criticised what they see as the most recent delay to West Cumbria Mining’s (WCM) deliberate undertaking that guarantees lots of of jobs for west Cumbria.

The Copeland borough mayor, Mike Starkie, mentioned in response to information of the delay: “It’s outrageous and completely unacceptable. The inquiry was in November 2021 and the planning inspector submitted his report back to authorities in April, it was for my part stretching it with no choice earlier than July and shouldn’t have been prolonged to August.

“To now transfer the goalposts to November is appalling and there’s no justification by any means. It is a dreadful approach to deal with personal traders who’re making a major enter (£160m) to levelling up the north.

“I name on each [Tory leadership contenders] Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak to make use of their affect to deliver this to a conclusion and the very least that ought to be accomplished is the planning inspector’s report and suggestions ought to be made public instantly.”

Mark Jenkinson, the Conservative MP for Workington, additionally took intention on the authorities, saying: “The concept the recommendation isn’t prepared is for the birds. It was prepared earlier than 6 July when Michael Gove determined his closing act wouldn’t be to approve the mine, and now they’re stringing Greg Clark alongside.

“LUHC ministers have to ask themselves: who’s in cost? For too lengthy, in extra of 30 years, officers have been allowed to run rings spherical elected members. Greg may begin by publishing the planning inspector’s report right this moment with out remark, which might not jeopardise any recommendation or a future choice.”

Environmental campaigners argue there can be no marketplace for the coking coal in Britain and Europe, as steelmakers transfer in the direction of much less carbon-intensive manufacturing strategies.

“The case in opposition to this coalmine is overwhelming no matter what number of instances the choice is delayed,” mentioned Victoria Marsom, from Buddies of the Earth.

“The UK and European marketplace for coking coal is about to quickly diminish as producers change to greener metal, whereas coal from this mine received’t substitute Russian imports. Nonetheless, this new mine will enhance carbon emissions, with the federal government’s local weather watchdog describing it as ‘completely indefensible’.”

The federal government’s Environmental Audit Committee is conducting an inquiry that appears at phasing out coal in Britain. Whitehall can also be because of rule on whether or not handy Tata Metal £1.5bn in decarbonisation funding that may assist it change to higher electrical arc furnace use in its manufacturing strains. Tata Group has mentioned its main Port Talbot plant could also be pressured to shut if it doesn’t obtain the state support.

Maggie Mason, from the South Lakes Motion on Local weather Change group, instructed the Guardian the delay was justified to make sure the choice was legally watertight. “I can perceive the necessity for a delay. The coalmine proposal has over 100 planning circumstances and several other choices to think about in opposition to planning insurance policies.

“Present, and presumably new ministers after 5 September, want time and freedom from political interference to make their choice and write an in depth reasoned judgment that can stand up to authorized scrutiny.”

A spokesperson for the Division for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities mentioned: “It is a quasi-judicial choice so it might not be acceptable to remark additional at this stage.”

WCM has been contacted for remark.

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