The Green Party in Tunbridge Wells has supported a decision by Tunbridge Well’s MP to delay the approval of a controversial new coal mine in Cumbria.
The fate of the mine – on the edge of Whitehaven, West Cumbria – was meant to be decided by July 7, but this was pushed back to mid-August after the sacking of levelling up secretary Michael Gove.
Greg Clark, who replaced Mr Gove, has now moved this deadline back to November 8, the department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has said.
It means the decision will be taken after a new prime minister has been elected to replace Boris Johnson.
The delay comes after the local Green Party in Tunbridge Wells wrote about the controversial mine in last week’s Times (August 10) and appealed to the Tunbridge Wells MP to scrap the plans.
John Anthony Hurst of the Tunbridge Wells Greens, said the group supported Mr Clark’s postponement of the decision, but added: “If Greg Clark keeps his job in the Cabinet, he should cancel this project.
“The Industrial Strategy he published as Business Minister in 2017 aimed to ‘maximise the advantages for UK industry for the global shift to green growth’, and a new UK coalmine would do the complete opposite.”
The Cumbrian mine is being planned to produce coke for the steel industry to avoid the need to import it from Russia – the world’s leading exporter of coal used in the industry – as opposed to producing coal for power stations.
“In these circumstances, given the imminent decision date, an additional period of time is required.”
Despite this, and while it is backed by several Tory MPs, the mine has been labelled ‘absolutely indefensible’ by Parliament’s Climate Change Committee chairman Lord Deben.
In a letter sent to the project’s stakeholders, a Government representative said: “This is a complex matter and officials are not yet in a position to complete their considerations prior to providing advice to Ministers.
“Planning Ministers will therefore not be in a position to reach a decision on this application by the previously notified date.
“The Secretary of State [Greg Clark MP] hereby gives notice that he has varied the timetable previously set and he will now issue his decision on or before November 8, 2022.”
If approved, the coal mine would be the first to open in the UK in 30 years, with the firm behind the project claiming it would create around 500 jobs.