Friends of the Earth launch legal challenge on Cumbria coal mine decision
Friends of the Earth has said it is taking legal action against the UK government following a decision to grant planning permission for a new coal mine in Cumbria.
Focusing on what it says is the mine's climate impacts, Friends of the Earth is one of two main opponents to the mine and will file its claim later this month.
The other main opponent of the mine, South Lakes Action on Climate Change (SLACC), is also considering legal action and sent a letter to the Levelling Up Secretary, Michael Gove, in December seeking more information and setting out some of the errors in law in his decision.
The decision on the mine was confirmed in December after numerous delays.
There were protests staged against the decision to approve the mine in December.
Niall Toru, lawyer at Friends of the Earth, said: “By giving the go-ahead to this polluting and totally unnecessary coal mine the government has not only made the wrong decision for our economy and the climate, we believe it has also acted unlawfully.
“Michael Gove has failed to account for the significant climate impacts of this mine, or how the much-needed move to green steelmaking will be impacted by its approval.
“The steel industry is under no illusion that it must decarbonise if we’re to meet our climate goals, which calls into doubt the long-term viability of the mine and the jobs used to justify it.
“Just as many jobs could be created locally through a programme to guarantee every home in the area is properly insulated.
"This would bring a myriad of benefits the mine simply can’t offer, such as lower energy bills, warmer homes and fewer carbon emissions released into our atmosphere.
“With the world facing a climate emergency, we shouldn’t have to take this challenge to court.
"Any sensible government should be choosing to leave coal in the ground, and accelerating the transition to a safe, clean and sustainable future.”
Rowan Smith, solicitor at Leigh Day who is representing Friends of the Earth, said: “A critical issue raised by Friends of the Earth during the inquiry was the signal that granting a new coal mine in the middle of a climate emergency would send to the rest of the world.
"Friends of the Earth believes that this was never properly grappled with by either the Inspector or the Secretary of State. We hope that the court will agree that this argument justifies a full hearing.”
A DLUHC spokesperson said: “The Secretary of State has agreed to grant planning permission for a new metallurgical coal mine in Cumbria as recommended by the independent planning inspector.
“This coal will be used for the production of steel and will not be used for power generation.
“The reasons for the Secretary of State’s decision are set out in full in his published letter, alongside the report of the independent planning inspector who oversaw the inquiry into the proposal”.
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