Britain postpones decision on new coal mine

Looking north over Druridge Bay, area where the Highthorn will be built. (Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.)

The British government has delayed a decision on whether to allow a new open pit coal mine in Northumberland, in the country’s north east, without elaborating on the reasons that motivated such decision.

The county’s council granted permission in 2016 to developer The Banks Group to build its Highthorn surface mine, slated to extract 3 million tonnes of coal near Druridge Bay.

But the minister for local government, Sajid Javid, called for a public enquiry last year following environmentalists claims that the proposed mine would destroy Druridge Bay, an area of natural beauty. They also argued that extracting more coal contradicted international pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under the Paris climate pact.

Supporters say the company has vowed not to conduct any mining activity within 500 metres of the beach, adding the operation would create about 100 permanent jobs and generate almost 50 million pounds ($69 million) in related contracts and other benefits to the community.

The company expressed its disappointment over the news. “We now have no indication as to when the Secretary of State is going to decide whether we are to be allowed to proceed,” Community Relations Manager Jeannie Kielty said in a statement quoted by ELN. “All the while, we are continuing to receive enquiries from energy generation and industrial customers about when the site is going to be opening,” she said.