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First deep coal mine for 30 years set to be approved

Telegraph reporters
·2-min read
As prime minister, Theresa May pledged that the UK would hit a “net-zero” carbon target by the middle of the century
As prime minister, Theresa May pledged that the UK would hit a “net-zero” carbon target by the middle of the century

The first deep coal mine to be dug in the UK in 30 years is likely to secure planning permission today in a move campaigners claim would undermine the Government’s pledge to be carbon neutral by 2050.

A meeting of Cumbria county council is set to approve plans for the project at a site near Whitehaven in the North West, despite green activists’ attempts to block them.

Planning officers at the council have recommended giving the green light to the mine, which would create 500 jobs in an area reliant on the nuclear and seasonal tourism industries, the Financial Times reported.

The site was first granted planning permission last year but was subject to a judicial review brought by campaigners who argued that it was incompatible with the UK’s environmental aims. 

The company behind the plan, West Cumbria Mining, had to resubmit plans. It claims the coal will be a substitute for imports, rather than increasing emissions.

The mine will extract about 2.4m tons of coal annually, mostly from under the seabed.  Processed coal would then be carried underground to trains.

The council has now said it supports the £160m colliery on the basis that it ceases operations by 2049, only one year ahead of the deadline for the country to become carbon neutral.  It had originally planned to run for as long as 70 years. 

A report last year suggested that the new coal mine would produce 8.4m tons of CO2 per year, more than double the net annual emissions from the whole of Cumbria.

Britain’s last deep coal mine, at Kellingley colliery in North Yorkshire, was closed five years ago.

The world is watching how the UK treads environmentally because it is due to host the COP26 round of UN global climate talks, which have been postponed until November next year in Glasgow.

As prime minister, Theresa May pledged that the UK would hit a “net-zero” carbon target by the middle of the century.