9 september 2016

Opencast coal mine application 'called in' over climate change concerns

Application for a mine in Northumberland will now be subject to a planning enquiry to determine if it is compatible with government climate change policy

Press Association, The Guardian, Friday 9 September 2016

An application for an opencast coal mine in Northumberland has been “called in” by the Government on climate grounds.

The proposals by Banks Mining for a surface mine for coal, sandstone and fire clay at Highthorn, between Widdrington Village and Druridge Bay, were given the green light by Northumberland county council in July.

Now it will be subject to a planning inquiry after the application was called in for consideration by communities secretary Sajid Javid.
Opencast coal mine planned for Northumberland coast
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The application will be examined to see if it is compatible with Government policies on meeting the challenge of climate change and protecting the natural environment, and with plans to phase coal-fired power stations in the UK by 2025.

The Government made the pledge to phase out polluting coal power last December ahead of United Nations talks in Paris, which secured the world’s first comprehensive climate deal that aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions to zero this century.

Caroline Lucas, co-leader of the Green Party, said: “The secretary of state’s decision to ‘call in’ the Druridge Bay planning application on climate grounds is hugely significant and very welcome.

“Going ahead with this project would fly in the face of the climate science, and be disastrous for the local environment. Coal is a dirty, polluting energy source and has no role to play in a modern economy.”

Friends of the Earth campaigner Guy Shrubsole said: “Hopefully this means that ministers have realised that digging up yet more coal is completely contradictory with the Paris climate deal, and that planning rules must be changed to leave fossil fuels in the ground.

“Thousands of people objected to the ill-conceived opencast coal mine at Druridge Bay because it would be hugely damaging for the local area, threaten tourism and undermine efforts to tackle climate change.

“The Government must look at the evidence, back local people and reject this short-sighted proposal. It’s time to stop extracting and burning coal.”

When the mine, which opponents say will destroy a beautiful area, was given the go-ahead, council leader Grant Davey said he appreciated it was a controversial issue, but the project would create jobs and boost the local economy.

According to Banks Mining, the scheme will create at least 100 full-time jobs, 50 of which would be new jobs and 50 moved from other sites, while £1.5m would be raised through business rates and £48m spent on local suppliers.

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