Keep Fossil Fuels in the Ground! SCA calls for public enquiry into proposed new Cumbrian coal mine
Sheffield Climate Alliance, represented by our co-chair Craig Gamble Pugh, recently joined other environmental groups in calling on the Prime Minister to launch a public enquiry into the proposed new coal mine in Cumbria. Last year, Boris Johnson moved the deadline for the phase-out of coal from Britain’s energy system to 2024. It would be the UK’s first deep coal mine in 30 years. When the UK is set to host COP26, a major climate change summit, this November, this is a disappointing development. We should be moving towards green, renewable energy for all, creating thousands of new jobs in the process.
Read the letter we signed below.
The Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP
10 Downing Street
4 February 2021
Dear Prime Minister,
We are writing to raise some very serious concerns about the decision to proceed with the Whitehaven coal mine in Cumbria.
As you know, the UK founded and co-chairs the Powering Past Coal Alliance and is President of this year’s COP26 climate summit in Glasgow. Given that our credibility, as host of the largest global climate talks since the signing of the Paris Agreement is at stake, it is mystifying that the government has decided not to intervene in the approval of the UK’s first deep coal mine in 30 years. This decision will make it much harder to fulfil the ambitions of the Powering Past Coal Alliance.
Alok Sharma MP, the COP president, when questioned before a Commons business select committee clearly understood that the mine approval was an embarrassment. The Climate Change Committee has urged the government to reconsider, highlighting that the increase in emissions from this mine alone would amount to more emissions than it has projected for all open UK coal mines to 2050.
New jobs need to be created, including in renewable energy, energy efficiency and alternatives to using coking coal in the steel industry. You have rightly talked about a green industrial revolution. The UK must lead the way with low-carbon technologies, rather than looking to the polluting industries of the past. It is crucial to support West Cumbria communities in their transition to genuinely sustainable employment. Research shows that concerted action and investment in green industries in the region would provide significantly more than the 500 jobs promised by the new mine.
The Climate Change Committee has said all coal, including coking coal, should be phased out by 2035. The government therefore risks allowing the creation of a stranded asset as the mine may be required to close only a few years after it opens. It also sends the wrong signal to all those countries who want to hold on to coal from Poland to China.
Furthermore, Secretary of State Robert Jenrick MP’s reasoning that it is a ‘local issue’ undermines UK leadership: it is widely understood that climate change and air pollution related to burning coal is a global problem.
MHCLG could still review the decision not to call in the mine because Cumbria County Council is yet to issue the final decision notice and subsequent planning permission. The grounds for this, including new information since the 6th January decision not to call it in, would be:
The Planning Unit had not had a chance to consider new information, notably the CCC letter of 29th January;
The national controversy caused by the mine, in particular since the 6th January decision – a stated reason for call-in is if it may “give rise to substantial cross-boundary or national controversy”;
If it involves the interests of foreign Governments – which is the case, given conflicts with COP26 diplomacy;
It “may conflict with national policies on important matters” – another stated reason for call-in – specifically climate change, as has been acknowledged both by the Chair of the Climate Change Committee and the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
Given that Cumbria County Council could issue its final decision notice very soon, time is of the essence. 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.
Anna Vickerstaff, UK lead, 350.org
Siobhan Harley, Campaigns Director, 38 Degrees
Andy Atkins, CEO, A Rocha UK
Gillian Kelly, Chair of Trustees, Ambleside Action For A Future
Dr Tony Gent, Chief Executive Officer, Amphibian & Reptile Conservation Trust
Paul Pacifico, CEO, Association of Independent Music
Lucy Bywater, Chair, Bedfordshire Climate Change Forum
Neil Thorns, Director of Advocacy, CAFOD
Claire James, Campaigns Coordinator, Campaign against Climate Change
Laurie Lee, CEO, Care International
Peter Tyldesley, Chief Executive Officer, Centre for Alternative Technology
Pete Moorey, Head of Campaigns and UK Advocacy, Christian Aid
James Thornton, CEO, ClientEarth
Ruth Balogh, Chair, Climate Emergency West Cumbria
Rachel Berger, Chair, Climate Friendly Bradford on Avon
Andy Atkins, Chair, Climate Sunday Initiative
Anne Harris, Campaigner, Coal Action Network
Revd Dr Kevin Snyman, Programme Officer, Commitment for Life, United Reformed Church
Crispin Truman, Chief Executive, CPRE The countryside charity
Karen Mitchell, CEO, Cumbria Action for Sustainability
Stephen Trotter, Chief Executive, Cumbria Wildlife Trust
Ellie Wyatt, Eco Action Families
Phil Macdonald, COO, Ember
Seán Mallon, Climate Change Specialist, Environmentally Conscious
Dr Shanon Shah, Director, Faith for the Climate
Jeffrey Newman, Emeritus Rabbi, Finchley Reform Synagogue
Miriam Turner & Hugh Knowles, Co-Executive Directors, Friends of the Earth England, Wales & Northern Ireland
Douglas Chalmers, Chief Executive, Friends of the Lake District
Nick Dearden, Director, Global Justice Now
Shaun Spiers, Executive director, Green Alliance
Deborah Tomkins and George Dow, Co-chairs, Green Christian
Graham Petersen, Secretary, Greener Jobs Alliance
John Sauven, Executive Director, Greenpeace UK
Paul Chitnis, Director, Jesuit Missions
Alison Tickell, Director, Julie’s Bicycle
Richard Solly, Co-ordinator, London Mining Network
Adrian Ramsay, CEO, MCS Charitable Foundation
Sophie Neuburg, Executive Director, Medact
Maddy Read Clarke, Campaign Director, Music Declares Emergency
Melissa Green, General Secretary, National Federation of Women’s Institutes
Miatta Fahnbulleh, Chief Executive, New Economics Foundation
Andrew Simms, co-director, New Weather Institute
Dr David W. Golding CBE PhD DSc DCL, Development Coordinator, North East Call to Action on Global Goverty and Climate Change
Jamie Drummond, Co-founder, ONE
Jacqueline Bourne, Founder Member, One World Voice
Sarah Hirom, Trustee, One World Week
Revd Dr Darrell Hannah, Chair, Operation Noah
Sam Nadel, Head of Policy and Advocacy, Oxfam GB
Carly Leonard, CEO, PECT
John Bodger, Chair, Penrith Action for Community Transition
Laura Clayson, Climate Change Campaigns Manager, People and Planet
Ian Dunn, CEO, Plantlife
Lauren MacCallum, General Manager, Protect Our Winters UK
Paul Parker, Recording Clerk, Quakers in Britain
Rosanne Palmer-White, UK Director, Restless Development
Beccy Speight, CEO, RSPB
Kirsty McNeil, Executive Director – Policy, Advocacy and Campaigns, Save the Children
Dr Stuart Parkinson, Executive Director, Scientists for Global Responsibility
Craig Gamble Pugh, Co-Chair, Sheffield Climate Alliance.
Lindy Stone, Coordinator, Sheffield Friends of the Earth
Shane Holland FCMI FRSA, Executive Chairman, Slow Food in the UK (SFUK)
Jack Woodruff, Campaigns Representitive, Student Christian Movement
Chaitra Dinesh, National Director, Students for Global Health
Jamie Agombar, Executive Director, Students Organising for Sustainability (SOS-UK)
Hugo Tagholm, CEO, Surfers Against Sewage
Henry Goodwin, Chairperson, Sustainable Carlisle.
Terry Sloan, Chair, Sustainable Keswick
Hugh Ellis, Director of Policy, TCPA
Paul Cook, Head of Advocacy, Tearfund
The Revd Margot R Hodson, Director of Theology and Education, The John Ray Initiative
Craig Bennett, Chief Executive, The Wildlife Trusts
John Bell, Officer, Transition Town Berkhamsted
Dr Alison Whybrow, Chair, Transition Town Kingston
UK Youth Climate Coalition
Ruth Balogh, Chair, West Cumbria and North Lakes Friends of the Earth
Richard Benwell, CEO, Wildlife and Countryside Link
Chris Holloway, Chair, WinACC
Kate Metcalf, Co-Director, Women’s Environmental Network
Abi Bunker, Director of Conservation and External Affairs, Woodland Trust
Katrina Judge, Founder, Young Climate Warriors