Coal Mine Update: Decision delayed during Government collapse

Activists dressed as coal mine canaries outside government offices. A couple of them hold up banners,whilst two more lie 'dead' on the pavement
The ‘dead canaries’ visit the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities on 14/6/22 during a week of protests

Since our last update on the planned Whitehaven coal mine:

  • 1st October 2021 was the last day of the public enquiry hearings. The planning inspector said he would submit his report to Michael Gove in late December 2021 or early 2022.
  • 6th July 2022: With just a day to go before the time limit expiry for Michael Gove’s decision, Boris Johnson fired him as the UK Government collapsed. The decision on the coal mine was formally postponed.
  • 7th July 2022: Greg Clark was appointed as the new Secretary of State for ‘Levelling Up, Housing and Communities’. Whether Mr. Clark survives in his new post through the current government turmoil long enough to announce his decision remains to be seen. A new time limit of 17th August was announced by LUHC

A decision could still come at any time, but the Department for ‘Levelling Up, Housing and Communities’ (LUHC) has set itself a new target date of 17th August 2022. Let us know if you’d like to join with further protests leading up to (and after, if necessary) this new date: Email

An advantage of the endless delays is that the more time passes, the more arguments against the mine accumulate – not that we needed any convincing (climate change – we can have no more fossil extraction!) – but they may help persuade the government. For example, there appears to be an ever declining market for Cumbrian coking coal in both the UK & Europe, and this trend can only increase as steel makers come under further pressure to decarbonise production:

  • In the UK there are only 2 steel makers: British Steel have said that the sulphur content of the West Cumbrian coal would likely be too high for them to use[1], and they also seem to be developing plans to replace at least one of their two (operational) blast furnaces with a (non-coal using) electric arc furness between 2024-2027[2]. Tata steel have said that they might use some WCM coal if it’s competitive on the world market, but even WCM don’t expect this to account for more than 13% of their planned production[3].
  • Big plans for blast furnace closures by 2030 in the EU have been announced by steel-making companies since the Inquiry ended, which provide additional strong evidence that there will be no need for Cumbria’s coking coal in the EU[4]


[1] “Green steel and Cumbrian coal: a Friends of the Earth briefing” – May 2022, Page 2


[3] Dr. Henry Adam’s Twitter thread 20/5/22

[4] Dr. Henry Adams “Blast furnace closure plans in the EU (& UK) show no need for a new coal mine”

Further information sources are listed on our ‘Stop The Mine’ page