Penrith and Eden campaigners, opposed to plans for a new coal mine in West Cumbria, were among several groups across the county protesting ahead of a crunch council vote.
Cumbria County Council will debate an application by West Cumbria Mining to create a coking coal mine off the coast of Whitehaven.
Plans were approved last year, but the firm was forced to amend its application after legal challenges by campaigners.
Members of Eden’s Green Party, Extinction Rebellion and Penrith Action for Community Transition, gathered in Penrith town centre this morning.
Although the council meeting will be held online, they plan to join other campaigners on the day of the meeting, Thursday 20th August, for a demonstration in Kendal.
Campaigners against the scheme claim the mine will not produce the promised benefits and will have far greater negative impacts than are acknowledged in the planning application.
The mine is set to produce 2.78 million tonnes of coal a year for around 50 years. Campaigners say the burning of the coal would result in the emission of nine million tonnes of CO2 every year until 2074.
Maggie Mason, one of the campaigners involved in the legal challenge, said: “The council has said that job creation was its main reason for approving the earlier application, but West Cumbria Mining’s claim of 500 jobs for 50 years is another false promise for West Cumbria.
“This mine will produce coking coal for steelmaking, but the steel industry is changing rapidly to use more environmentally friendly technologies that don’t need coal.
“The UK industry is already switching to electric arc furnaces using scrap steel, and UK and EU governments are also investing heavily in steel production using hydrogen instead of coal.
“Demand for coking coal is set to reduce significantly by 2030 and will definitely not persist for the 50-year life of the mine. In fact, West Cumbria Mining’s own expert has previously stated that there is an oversupply of coking coal.”
Campaigners added that the mine would have an impact on tourism development and argue that emissions from burning the coal extracted at the mine should be considered, not just those caused by the mining process as the company has included.
Ali Ross, Green Party member of Eden District Council and member of Penrith’s Extinction Rebellion group, who was part of the protest in Penrith, said: “The developers claim that this mine won’t result in any net increase in coal being burnt, because other mines that currently supply the coal will close.
“The council’s committee is now obliged to think again and consider the legal and scientific evidence about the environmental and social impact.”
John Bodger, chair of Penrith Action for Community Transition, added: “In Cumbria, we are at the front line of the climate emergency. We face devastating flooding which will only get worse and more frequent as carbon emissions rise.
“This development would lock West Cumbria into a dying industry instead of investing in the thousands of decent, long-term jobs that we need for a low carbon economy.
“This is an opportunity to move away from business as usual, build a future for our children and really build back better after COVID-19, as communities and future generations deserve.”