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Cumbria coal mine decision looms

The mine does not need to replace Russian coal. Indeed, claims that the mine is needed to replace imported Russian coking coal are misleading.

Steelmakers use blends of coal with different properties to produce steel. West Cumbria Mining made clear in its evidence to the planning inquiry that its aim is to replace coal with similar characteristics on the US east coast.

Even since Russia invaded Ukraine, West Cumbria Mining has not claimed that its coal will replace Russian coal, which has different characteristics.


MPI’s Chris McDonald said the mine would not displace a tonne of Russian coking coal from the UK. British Steel, the industry’s trade association, confirmed that British steel mills no longer use Russian coal, and government statistics confirmed that no coking coal was imported from Russia between April and June.

The mine will increase carbon emissions and approval will damage the UK’s climate credibility.

Lord Deben, who chairs the government’s advisory committee on climate change, wrote that opening the Cumbria mine would increase global carbon emissions, saying approval of the mine was “absolutely indefensible”.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said that opening up new fossil fuel infrastructure would be “moral and economic insanity”. COP26 chairman Alok Sharma also expressed concern about granting the mine’s license.


New fossil fuel mining is not the right way to create jobs, and falling demand for coking coal casts doubt on the mine’s medium- to long-term prospects and its promised 500 jobs.

Regions like West Cumbria should be at the forefront of government plans to transform the economy, create new jobs and build a cleaner future.

According to the Local Government Association, Cumbria has the potential to create more than 6,000 green jobs by 2030 in areas such as energy efficiency, solar, offshore wind and low-carbon heating.

Nearly 600 of these are likely to be in Copeland, the area where the mines will be built. Alok Sharma, who was chairman of COP26 and a cabinet minister until last month, said, “If this is about job creation, then, as the Local Government Association said, you can create more jobs in the green sector.”


A plan to slash energy bills by making homes more energy efficient in West Cumbria could create as many jobs as a proposed mine, according to recent analysis by Friends of the Earth.

The proposed two main mining areas are also likely to have significant landscape and visual impacts.

At the planning inquiry, expert witnesses from Friends of the Earth testified that the mine, and in particular the rail loading facility in the tranquil Pow Beck Valley, would cause serious damage to local character and significantly impact the coast-to-coast and local trails .

Overall, the landscape and visual impact of the mine is unacceptable and therefore in breach of the national planning policy framework, campaigners argue.

the author

Brendan Montague is ecologist. This article is based on a press release from Friends of the Earth.

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