It was a project conceived long before Boris Johnson was running the country. But as he tries to make good on his promises to “level up” the north of England and take a global lead on climate change, a proposed new coal mine in Cumbria has become a thorn in the prime minister’s side. The project was approved three times by county councillors, most recently in October, and they had been expected to issue a formal decision notice, granting permission. But, facing threats of a legal challenge, it said in an 11th-hour U-turn last week that it wanted to look at the plans for a fourth time. The pit promises to bring £650m in investment and 500 jobs to an area desperately in need of “levelling up”. The project, from West Cumbria Mining, backed by Australian investors, had received the support of the local council and Tory MPs in the constituencies that stand most to benefit. This is in the heart of what was once Labour’s “red wall”, the former party strongholds that for decades lacked investment and have become one of England’s main political battlegrounds. Cumbria knows that whatever decision it makes, it is likely to see a legal challenge. West Cumbria Mining remains confident the project will go ahead. “WCM and its advisers are clear that the committee on climate change report and … carbon budget are not factors which would have led the committee to reach a different decision,” its chief executive, Mark Kirkbride, said in a statement.If the council reverses its previous three decisions, it could face a costly legal fight with the developers.
Times 14th Feb 2021 read more »
IN March 2002, miners surfaced from their final shift following the flooding of Scotland’s last deep mine at the Longannet complex. They brought the curtain down on a centuries-long historical saga. My new book tells the story of the end of Scottish coal mining. There were more than 100,000 workers in the coal sector alone at the industry’s peak employment during the early 1920s and still around 80,000 in the late 1950s. Whilst deindustrialisation was often a disorientating experience, in the Scottish case, it was not a sudden one.
The National 14th Feb 2021 read more »