New UK deep coal mine 'unnecessary': green group


London (AFP)

Plans for new deep coal mining projects in Britain are "unnecessary" and incompatible with the country's 2050 carbon-neutral target, a report by environmental think-tank Green Alliance said Wednesday.

The report focused on Woodhouse Colliery in the county of Cumbria, in northwest England, which is the first deep coal mine project to be launched in Britain in 40 years.

The mine was "unnecessary" for the local steel industry and would instead "hinder the development of low carbon alternatives to conventional steel production", said the report, written by two academics, Rebecca Willis and Mike Berners-Lee.

"No new high-carbon infrastructure (mines, airports etc) can be built and used if the world is to keep within 1.5 degrees," Willis told AFP, referring to the Celsius temperature goal set out in the Paris climate pact.

"The UK, if it wants to see itself as a climate leader, needs to have a much firmer line on extraction of fossil fuel."

Local authorities have already approved the mine, which would produce 2.43 million tonnes of coal per year for the steel industry, but other regulators are yet to give the green light.

Britain has committed to move away from coal, with its last coal-fired power stations due to close within five years.

Green Alliance points out that there are currently "a number of proposals for new coal mines" in the country, in addition to the one in Cumbria.

The report calls on the steel industry to work towards a lower carbon future by recycling steel, modernising steelworks to make them more energy efficient including through innovative techniques using natural gas or hydrogen.

"Less steel could be used, through more efficient building and manufacturing processes," it added.

Backers of the project say that it will directly create 518 jobs in an economically disadvantaged region, and that it would cut the need for imports, making it "carbon neutral".