• On Friday 23rd March 2018, the Government rejected an application to create a new coal mine near Druridge Bay, Northumberland, mainly on the basis of its impacts on greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.
• This is an astonishing development, since it involved overturning the recommendation of the Government’s own Inspector, appointed to conduct a Public Inquiry into the proposal!
• Opponents of the proposal, who included believing scientists and Christian campaigners, have reason to celebrate – provisionally, since the mining company has until 4th May to lodge an appeal against the decision, so all celebrations are ‘on hold’ for the time being!
• This outcome may well set a precedent and sound the death knell for this “most polluting of all fuels” in the UK, with reverberations elsewhere.
A ferocious battle has been raging over the past
couple of years over the application by HJ Banks & Co Ltd to create a new opencast coal mine at Highthorn, Northumberland, near the beauty spot, Druridge Bay. It pitched the company and council on one side of the argument, against local residents, conservationists (Bill Oddie described the scheme as a ‘desecration’) backed by an 11,000-strong petition, climate campaigners and world-renowned scientists on the other. As one of the latter, Professor Sir John Houghton FRS, put it: “Coal is the most polluting of all fuels”.
Since the Minister made his dramatic decision mainly on the basis of the damaging impacts of the mine on greenhouse gas emissions and climate change, this outcome may well set a precedent and sound the death knell for this “most polluting of all fuels” in the UK, with reverberations elsewhere. ‘Creation Carers’ are hoping and praying that it will be so: as Dr Golding puts it, “we simply cannot go on treating the atmosphere as an open sewer into which we can pour our pollution!”