A small Cumbrian charity will lead the challenge against a company that hopes to build a coal mine in West Cumbria.
South Lakeland Against Climate Change (SLACC) will lead on a challenge to claims made by West Cumbria Mining Company (WCM), who propose to build a mine on the Woodhouse Colliery site, which would be built on the former Marchon site in the Kells area of Whitehaven.
The controversial plans to construct a new coking coal mine were called in by the Local Government Minister Robert Jenrick in March.
An application for the development was first submitted to Cumbria County Council in May 2017.
A four-week Planning Inspectorate inquiry into the proposals will begin on Tuesday.
A national and international network of academics has supported SLACC’s struggle for a major and public investigation into the WCM’s proposal after the sixth UK Carbon Budget was published in December.
John Ashton, CBE, independent speaker, writer and former UK climate envoy has praised the Kendal-based charity, SLACC, for “doing an amazing job in holding WCM to account and forcing a reluctant government to hold a public inquiry.”
SLACC chair of trustees Carole Wood says: “The public inquiry is the next stage of a long battle to highlight the damage to the climate and environment from this proposal. As a small charity, we are very grateful for the global support we have received, the contributions of specialist experts, and the backing of many people who have contributed to our crowdfunding.”
Maggie Mason, leading the work for SLACC said: “Our expert witnesses show that the coal from this mine is not the type that the UK and EU steel industry needs, so it would not replace current imports. And, in any case, the European Steel industry is moving away from using coal because it has to meet stringent new targets to tackle climate change.”
SLACC has worked alongside a number of sustainability groups in Cumbria, as well as national charities that include Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, World Wide Fund for Nature and countryside charity CPRE. SLACC has also attracted over £50,000 from crowdfunding this year to support its legal expenses.
West Cumbria Mining
“West Cumbria Mining (WCM) looks forward to explaining its plans for the world’s first ‘net-zero’ underground coal mine at the forthcoming public inquiry,” a spokesman said.
Mark Kirkbride, CEO, said: ‘We have considered the climate impacts of the project in great detail and implemented significant and world-leading techniques to demonstrate that the resources industry can also achieve net carbon zero operations.”
He added: “I believe this will become a core part of the social licence to operate resource projects and we fully comply with the Climate Change Committee carbon budgets and proposed net-zero test.”