New arguments to be made on planned Cumbrian coal mine

Barry White

Friends of the Earth says it aims to present new arguments to a planning inspector who oversaw an inquiry into proposals to open a deep coal mine south of Whitehaven in Cumbria. They believe that a recent ruling by Court of Appeal judges relating to an oil well in Surrey might have implications for the planned Cumbrian mine.

A spokesman said a lawyer aimed to write to an inspector who oversaw a planning inquiry into the mine proposal, spelling out the implications of the appeal ruling. He said the mine planning inquiry had been staged in September – and the inspector had yet to make a recommendation

Campaigner Sarah Finch had challenged Surrey County Council’s decision to allow a well near her Redhill home to be extended. She said the council had failed to assess “the indirect greenhouse gas impacts” and did not consider environmental protection objectives. Last week three Court of Appeal judges dismissed her appeal by a two-to-one majority.

Friends of the Earth said appeal judges had made points, in a written ruling, relating to fuel emissions, which they wanted the mine inquiry inspector to consider.

“The appeal judgment makes clear that planning authorities have a discretion over whether to consider the ‘end use’ emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels in the environmental impact assessment,” said a spokesperson last Friday.

“By contrast, the High Court judge had ruled that the County Council could not have considered these emissions, as a matter of law.

“During the public inquiry, the mine developer relied on the High Court judge’s judgment in the (oil well case) to say that it could not be required to assess the end-use emissions from its proposed coal development either.

“We think that the Court of Appeal’s judgment yesterday weakens their position on this.

“The planning inspector said that he might consider new representations on the issue of end-use emissions following the Court of Appeal judgment in the (oil well case).

“Given that the Court of Appeal judgment is a significant development on this issue, Friends of the Earth now expects to be writing to the planning inspector about this with further submissions.”


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