Over 70 organisations signed a letter to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson calling for a public inquiry into the approval of a new deep coal mine near Whitehaven, in Cumbria.
The letter, signed by environmental organisations and charities, including Catholic aid agency CAFOD, Greenpeace UK and the New Economics Foundation think tank, condemns the Prime Minister for not taking action and states that the decision to go ahead with the mine “undermines” UK leadership on climate action.
The credibility of the UK, a founder of the Powering Past Coal Alliance and this year’s President of the COP26 climate summit, is at stake, they wrote.
“The UK must lead the way with low-carbon technologies, rather than looking to the polluting industries of the past,” they continued.
They urged the prime minister, who last year announced a ten-point plan for a green industrial revolution, to look to new technologies rather than the “polluting industries of the past”.
Supporters of the mine have defended it on the grounds that it will provide coking coal for the steel industry. However the Climate Change Committee, an independent, statutory body in the UK cited by the letter, has stated that all coal should be phased out by 2035.
Furthermore, if the UK wants to lead the way on the climate front, it needs to set the example to “those countries who want to hold on to coal”.
Plans for the £165 million mine were approved by Cumbria’s County Council for the third time in October last year. Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick, who was in a position to stop the mine, has been criticised for not intervening.
As Cumbria County Council could issue their final decision “very soon”, the signatories demand immediate action to alter the course of the decision.
“We believe strongly that the best way to resolve the issue would be for Secretary of State Robert Jenrick MP to call in the decision, and refer the matter to a public inquiry. Reversing this decision would help restore confidence in the UK government’s climate leadership both internationally and at home.”