Updated Feb 8, 2021

Local divisions continue from coalmine plans

Work on the UK's first deep coal mine in more than 30 years could begin this year after it was given the go-ahead by the county council in Cumbria and Robert Jenrick, Housing Secretary.

The £165m Woodhouse Colliery scheme has caused controversy in Cumbria and is now becoming an international issue at odds with the climate change commitments made by the UK.

It will emit 8.4m tonnes of carbon dioxide annually while digging up coking coal for steel production.

James Hansen, a former NASA scientist and an expert in climate change, has spoken strongly to Boris Johnson in a letter sent to express his disapproval with the decision to push ahead with the coal mine.

He commented specifically on the coal mine and expressed that it would be unfair to "just continue with the plan to open a new coal mine in Cumbria and continue to invest funds of the British public in fossil fuel projects overseas, in contemptuous disregard of the future of young people and nature."

He said the UK had a big part to play in climate change and there was "much at stake for the young people of the United Kingdom and every community suffering the ravages of the climate and ecological emergency".

The mine has also come under criticism from Sir David King, a senior scientific adviser, who said the mine "is a big mistake. I think Jim Hansen has expressed it very well".

There are currently at least two legal challenges ongoing, one on climate grounds and the other related to the potential issues caused by drilling near nuclear waste disposal areas.

However, some of those in the region are happy with plans for the coal mine as it could bring up to 500 new jobs in a time of high redundancies and unemployment after the closing of chemical works and decommissioning of Sellafield nuclear facility.

A former GMB union leader has spoken of the local people and said: "we have a proud history of mining in this area, going back centuries – so it's natural people in Copeland would want to see it return".