Plans for a huge opencast coal mine in the north east of England were today formally rejected by Communities Secretary Sajid Javid, on the basis that the environmental impact would be too significant. Environmental lawyers have strongly welcomed the decision, which gave “very considerable weight” to the effect of greenhouse gas emissions in assessing whether to approve the mine. Basing the decision on climate grounds is a first in planning application decisions.
The long-contested Druridge Bay development has been in the pipeline for years, with campaigners railing against it and pointing out the government’s obligations under the Climate Change Act, and its own 2025 coal phaseout plans.
ClientEarth energy lawyer Sam Bright said: “We congratulate the government for taking the only thinkable decision and blocking this new coal mine because of its huge future climate impacts. It’s the first time ministers have blocked a project on climate change grounds. The tone is set: we expect authorities to take a similar approach from now on when considering fossil fuel developments in the UK.
“Coal is the dirtiest fuel – for the climate and for people’s health. It’s vital that governments around the world follow Westminster’s lead and block new coal projects, to speed the move to a cleaner energy economy.”
ClientEarth has previously called for a National Policy Statement to make it clearer that local councils need to take climate change into account in assessing projects for approval.