Harry Brunskill reports on protests against plans for the UK’s first deep coal mine in more than 30 years
Protesters will be on the streets of London and West Cumbria on Tuesday, September 7th, which marks the start of a public inquiry into a new coal mine.
A rally at the site of the proposed mine in Whitehaven will start at 9am. At the same time, protesters will gather outside the Ministry of Housing, Communities, and Local Government. in Marsham Street, London.
The Coal Action Network plans to have little cut-outs of canaries – traditionally used to warn miners of danger – for people to write or draw on at the London rally. West Cumbrian activists against the coal mine proposal are sending a handmade canary to be delivered to the Ministry.
Protesters are also warning that they will take direct action if the mine is given the go-head.
A statement from groups including Insurance Rebellion, Coal Action Network, Earth First, Rising Tide and Reclaim the Power, says: “We commit to taking the action necessary to prevent the damage that West Cumbria Mining Ltd.’s proposed coking coal mine would cause to the local environment, UK climate leadership, and global climate change if the Secretary of State fails to stop it after the public inquiry.”
The fear is that the inquiry will consider impacts of only the mining and not even take into account the emissions that would be produced by actually burning the coal. This would be about 9 million tonnes of CO2 a year, a figure incompatible with the UK’s climate change commitments, according to the government’s Climate Change Committee.
Experts will tell the inquiry that the coal the mining company hopes to dig up and sell is not the high quality coking coal it claims and that steel making without using coal will in any case grow quickly from 2024.
The “substitution argument” that the mining company uses to say the mine would cause mines elsewhere to close has been described as “economically illiterate”.
Experts will also argue that the mine would not bring many jobs to West Cumbrian residents and that it would be very likely to harm two areas of Ancient Woodland.
In an article in the Whitehaven News, John Ashton, the former UK Special Adviser on Climate Change, says of the company behind the plan: “There is nothing local about West Cumbria Mining Limited. Its very name is a mask. Its parent company is based in a Caribbean tax haven. It is a vehicle for private equity speculators from the world of Australian mining, which holds nothing sacred but its profits. Wherever this industry knocks on the door it comes to take not to give.”
Further details, including a Covid-19 policy and risk assessment, are available here.
Harry Brunskill is a retired journalist and teacher with a 45-year-long interest in the environment.
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