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South Lakes MP urges COP26 climate conference president to block plans for West Cumbrian coal mine

Aerial CGI of Woodhouse Colliery mine site

South Lakes MP Tim Farron has written to the President of the COP26 climate conference, urging him to block plans for a new coal mine in West Cumbria.

According to a report in the Times at the weekend, Alok Sharma was said to be “apoplectic” with cabinet colleague Robert Jenrick, the Communities Secretary, after he gave the green light to the under-sea coal mine earlier this month.

West Cumbria Mining was granted permission for the coking coal mine, off the coast of Whitehaven, by Cumbria County Council last year.

Mr Farron had asked for that decision to be called in to be scrutinised by the Government, but Whitehall gave formal notice earlier this month it would not be doing so.

A statement from Mr Farron said the Woodhouse Colliery was set to produce 2.78 million tonnes of coal a year for a projected 50 years, which will result in the emission of nine million tonnes of carbon dioxide every year until 2074.

Coking coal is used in the steel industry and currently, much of it is imported to the UK.

In his letter to Mr Sharma, Mr Farron said: “The climate crisis is the biggest long-term issue that our country and indeed our planet faces.  COP26 presents us with a golden opportunity for the United Kingdom to show real international leadership in facing up to this momentous challenge.

“Unfortunately, this risks being totally undermined by the Government’s astonishing decision to give the green light for a new deep coal mine here in Cumbria.

“Rather than using Cumbria’s fantastic resources to help create thousands of renewable jobs in wind or tidal energy, it’s utterly bewildering that we are instead investing in coal.

“As the world moves to decarbonise steel production, it is staggering that we are building a coal mine that will release an estimated nine million tonnes of carbon dioxide every year for its proposed 50 year life span.

“How can we possibly stand on the world stage and proclaim that we are leading the fight against catastrophic climate change when we are allowing this to go ahead?

“How can we rightly tell China and others that they must do far more to tackle climate change when we are building a coal mine in our own backyard?

“I urge you to show real courage and leadership on this most important of issues by telling your colleagues in Government to think again and stop the building of this new coal mine.

“The eyes of the world are watching.”