UK decision on coal mine delayed as Gove sacked

A UK government decision on whether to allow a new coal mine in Cumbria, northwest England, has been delayed amid the political turmoil this week which has seen Prime Minister Boris Johnson effectively forced out of office.

The minister responsible for the relevant department, Michael Gove, was sacked by Johnson on Wednesday evening after he reportedly informed him face to face that he needed to step down.

Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, was fired.  

Gove has been expected to announce yesterday 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 7 July.

“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.

“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.