LONDON (AFP) — The British government has rejected plans to construct an open-cast coal mine near a picturesque beach in northeastern England, agreeing with campaigners that it would harm the environment.
Family-owned Banks Mining Group had sought to build the facility at Highthorn in Northumberland, sparking outcry from environmentalists who complained it was too close to Druridge Bay.
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick announced in a written statement published late Tuesday that he has determined that the application is “not environmentally acceptable.”
Campaigners welcomed news that the proposals have now been turned down.
“With the world staring at catastrophic climate change, this is the right decision,” said Friends of the Earth climate campaigner Tony Bosworth.
“Coal mines must be consigned to the history books if we are going to avoid climate breakdown.
“Let’s leave coal in the ground where it belongs and invest in energy saving and renewable power to build the safe, clean and fairer future we so urgently need,” Bosworth added.
Banks Group had applied for permission to extract three million tons of coal from Highthorn, before restoring or improving the landscape.
Banks said the refusal would deprive the northeastern region of badly needed jobs — and ramp up demand for coal from abroad, thereby increasing harmful gas emissions.
“We are extremely disappointed,” executive director Gavin Styles in a statement.
“At a time when our region and country is facing an unprecedented economic crisis, this decision effectively hands the much-needed and valued jobs of our north east workforce to Russian miners.”
Faced with the climate emergency, Britain has opted to halt coal production for electricity entirely by 2025, with just a handful of power stations still using it.
Banks last month shut England’s last major coal mine in the country’s northeast.
© Agence France-Presse