A tale of two coal mines.
The government has rightly rejected a proposal for an open cast coal mine on a greenfield site which Banks Mining had put forward at Druridge Bay in the North East.
The Rt Hon Robert Jenrick, secretary of state for Housing, Communities and local government "called in" and refused the Banks Mining proposals which faced strong local opposition, including from local MPs.
It is important to emphasise that about the only thing the Banks proposal had in common with the West Cumbria Mining proposals which are due to come back to Cumbria County Council next month is that both are for coal mines - within that category their merits are about as different as two proposals could possibly be.
- The Banks proposal was for an open-cast coal mine which, if you are going to extract coal at all, is just about the most environmentally-damaging way possible to do it, and would have been likely to cause massive impact on the local area and community.
- By contrast West Cumbria Mining are proposing a deep coal mine with environmentally friendly disposal of the spoil.
- The Banks proposal was to dig coal to burn for fuel, which is not necessary and for which there are far better economic and less-environmentally damaging alternatives.
- By contrast the West Cumbria Mining application is specifically for metallurgical coal for steel production for which there are currently no satisfactory and economic alternatives.
- The Banks proposal was strongly opposed by the local community and by local MPs.
- By contrast the West Cumbria Mining application has overwhelming support among the local community including the support of every MP representing areas within an hour and a half's drive of the site. (With a very small number of exceptions, most of the opposition to the mine is not local. It does not come from anywhere near St Bees and Whitehaven or even Copeland but from the other side of the highest mountain and the largest and deepest lakes in England and from groups with words like "South Lakeland" in their titles - or from the other side of the country.)
So I do not think the government decision on Banks Mining, with which I strongly agree, has any relevance to West Cumbria.
It is currently expected that the West Cumbria mining application will come to committee on 2nd October.