British coal mine decision delayed amid political turmoil

By Susanna Twidale

LONDON, July 7 (Reuters) - A British government decision on whether to allow a new coal mine in Cumbria, northwest England, has been delayed amid political turmoil which saw the minister responsible for the relevant department sacked by the prime minister on Wednesday evening.

On a calamitous day for British politics on Wednesday, with several ministers resigning in protest over Boris Johnson’s tenure, Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, was fired. Johnson is expected to announce his resignation as prime minister on Thursday, a source said.

Gove was expected to announce on Thursday whether or not the mine, being developed by privately owned West Cumbria Mining and which seeks to extract coking coal for the steel industry, should go ahead.

Environmental group Friends of the Earth, which had been campaigning against the mine had previously been notified by the government a decision should be made by July 7.

"Regrettably, Planning Ministers will not be in a position to publish a decision by this date," the department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said in a letter to Friends of the Earth and seen by Reuters.

"There’s no justifying new coal and all the evidence is stacked against the mine: it’ll increase carbon emissions and its market is already declining as steelmakers move to greener production," Tony Bosworth, coal campaigner at Friends of the Earth said in a statement.

Britain has a climate target to reach net zero emissions by 2050, and the government’s independent climate advisers, the Climate Change Committee (CCC), had warned allowing the mine would make reaching this target more difficult.

West Cumbria Mining has said the project will have local benefits and create around 500 jobs.
Reporting By Susanna Twidale; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise

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