The UK Government has given the go ahead for the construction of the UK’s first coal mine in 30 years. The mine will be dug near Whitehaven in Cumbria and its approval comes just over a year since the UK encouraged other countries at COP26 in Glasgow to “consign coal to history.”
The coal mine will be known as Woodhouse Colliery and the coal extracted from underground will be used in the steelmaking industry. Supporters of the project, including the company behind it, have said that the colliery will bring work to the local area as well as provide training opportunities for local people.
Those opposed to the project argue that digging the colliery is a backwards step for the UK’s climate agenda. Lord Deben of the Climate Change Committee said earlier this year that the mine was “absolutely indefensible.”
Levelling Up secretary Michael Gove saw through plans for the mine yesterday. An opposing view came from Green Party MP Caroline Lucas who labelled the colliery as a "climate-busting, backward-looking, business-wrecking, stranded asset coal mine."
West Cumbria Mining, the group behind the project, has previously said that up to 500 jobs could be created through the colliery. A spokesperson for the group said: “West Cumbria Mining is delighted with the decision of the Secretary of State to formally approve the Woodhouse Colliery planning application. The decision of the Secretary of State, which is supported by the Planning Inspector following on from last year’s planning inquiry, means the project can now move forwards to deliver the world’s first net zero mine supplying the critical steel industry with a high-quality metallurgical coal product.
“We look forward to taking the project to the next stage of delivery and jobs creation and thank all of those in West Cumbria and across Britain who have supported the project throughout.”
The approval of the colliery is historic as it comes seven years after the closure of the UK’s last deep coal mine in Kellingley, Yorkshire. The once thriving industry faded out through the 1970s, 80s and 1990s. The opening of the mine in Cumbria will be seen as a chapter of UK history many expected to be resigned to the past.