The Poll ran from Dec 8, 2022 to Jan 16 2023 and received 869 votes
Michael Gove’s decision to approve the UK’s first new coal mine in decades sparked a fierce debate about the UK’s commitment to its carbon-cutting ambitions.
According to its supporters, the mine – near Whitehaven in Cumbria – will produce an estimated 2.8 million tonnes of coking coal a year for steel production and create around 500 jobs in the region.
Whilst the mine is expected to produce an estimated 400,000 tonnes of GHG emissions per year, the government insists the scheme will not undermine the UK’s legally-binding ambition to reach net zero emissions by 2050. According to current plans, the mine - known as Woodhouse Colliery - is scheduled to cease operating in 2049.
Meanwhile, critics of the scheme argue that the mine makes little economic sense, that it will trash the UK’s reputation as a global leader on climate action, and undermine efforts to accelerate the development of lower carbon methods of steel production. “A new coal mine in Cumbria makes no sense environmentally or economically,” said Prof Paul Ekins, Professor of Resources and Environmental Policy at the UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources. “It will add to global CO2 emissions, as the new supply will not replace other coal but divert it elsewhere, and it will become stranded in the 2030s as the steel industry globally moves away from coal.”
Some opponents have even poured cold water on claims that the mine will reduce the need to import coal for domestic steel production. “We have studied the Cumbria coals and it’s clear that these are very high in sulphur and are not wanted by either of the two UK iron and steel makers,” said Prof Stuart Haszeldine from the University of Edinburgh’s School of GeoSciences. “Steel making in Europe is rapidly changing to use hydrogen, not coal. Most, and maybe all, of this coking coal will be exported outside of Europe to escape environmental constraints on its use.”
In this poll we asked a simple question, do you support the UK government’s decision to press ahead with the mine: Yes or No? As always do please expand on your thoughts by taking part in the debate below.