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Letter: Deep Coal Mining in the UK

1. Outline

This is a letter from Lord Deben, Chairman of the CCC to Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government about the decision not to call in, or review, the recent decision of Cumbria County Council to grant planning permission to a new Cumbrian coal mine.

2. Key messages

  • The opening of a new deep coking coal mine in Cumbria will increase global emissions and have an appreciable impact on the UK’s legally binding carbon budgets. The mine is projected to increase UK emissions by 0.4Mt CO2e per year. This is greater than the level of annual emissions we have projected from all open UK coal mines to 2050.
  • The decision to award planning permission to 2049 will commit the UK to emissions from coking coal, for which there may be no domestic use after 2035. 85% of the coal is planned for export to Europe.
  • It is not the CCC’s role to act as a regulator or a planning authority, but we would urge you to consider further the UK’s policy towards all new coal developments, for whatever purpose.
  • This decision also highlights the critical importance of local councillors and planning authorities considering fully the implications of their decisions on climate targets. In this regard, I would ask that we discuss the provision of guidance to local authorities.
  • It is for Ministers to decide how the effort to reach Net Zero should be allocated across the economy, but it is also important to note that this decision gives a negative impression of the UK’s climate priorities in the year of COP26.