UK secretary of state for levelling up, housing and communities, Michael Gove, has approved the first new UK coal mine in 30 years despite concern about its climate impacts among Conservative MPs and experts.
The proposed mine in Cumbria would extract coking coal for steel production in the UK and globally.
Critics say the mine would undermine climate targets and demand for coking coal is declining, while supporters claim the mine, near Whitehaven, will create jobs and reduce the need to import coal.
The fate of the West Cumbria Mining project had been uncertain for two years, after the local county council initially approved the mine in 2020.
According to a report by the BBC, the project's approval was suspended in early 2021, ahead of the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, after the government's climate change adviser said it would increase carbon emissions.
Lord Deben, chairman of the government's advisory Climate Change Committee described the proposal as ‘absolutely indefensible’ and said its approval would damage the UK's leadership on climate change.
Planning authorities reviewed the original decision and sent a report to the secretary of state of communities to review and make a final judgement.
A letter outlining the decision said Mr Gove was ‘satisfied that there is currently a UK and European market for the coal’.