UK coal mine decision delayed a second time

·2 min read

LONDON (Reuters) -A British government decision on whether to allow the construction of a new coal mine in Cumbria, northwest England, has been delayed for the second time in just over a month, according to a government letter seen by Reuters.

A decision on the mine was originally expected in July, but was delayed to "on or before Aug. 17" after the minister responsible for the relevant department was sacked by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Johnson himself then resigned, and the contest to replace him as prime minister and leader of the governing Conservative Party is due to run until Sept. 5.

"This is a complex matter and officials are not yet in a position to complete their considerations prior to providing advice to ministers," the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said in a letter to environmental group Friends of the Earth (FoE), seen by Reuters.

The letter said a decision would now be issued on or before Nov. 8. The announcement was earlier reported by the BBC.

A spokesperson for the department confirmed the contents of the letter.

The Cumbria mine is being developed by privately owned West Cumbria Mining and which seeks to extract coking coal for the steel industry. The company has said the project will have local benefits and create around 500 jobs.

Britain has a climate target to reach net zero emissions by 2050, and the government’s independent climate advisers, the Climate Change Committee (CCC), have warned allowing the mine would make reaching this target more difficult.

FoE campaigner Victoria Marsom said the case against the mine was overwhelming.

"Fossil fuels cause enormous damage to both our environment and economy. Areas like Cumbria should be at the heart of building the greener future we need," she said.

(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan; Editing by Aurora Ellis)