Beautiful Druridge Bay in Northumberland has been saved from being turned into a massive opencast coal mine. After nearly two years of campaigning by concerned locals and environmental groups, the government has rejected the planning application, unprecedentedly citing climate change as the reason.
The planning application was originally approved by Northumberland county council in 2016. Campaigners, however, argued that the mine would damage both local tourism and wildlife. They also pointed out the government’s obligations under the Climate Change Act, and its 2025 coal phaseout plans. A few months after the initial approval was granted, the application was called in by the Communities Secretary, Sajid Javid. After eighteen months of deliberations, during which time Mr Javid considered both the evidence of the public inquiry and the recommendations of the planning inspector, the proposal was thrown out.
This is the first coal mine ever to be rejected in the UK because of climate change impacts – a vindication for everyone who has been calling for fossil fuels to be left in the ground.
Rose Dickinson, climate campaigner
According to officials, the communities secretary gave climate considerations “very considerable weight” in his deliberations, and came to the decision that these outweighed the economic benefits the mine would bring to the area. According to environmental lawyers ClientEarth, this is the first time that the UK government has ever cited climate change as the reason for rejecting a planning application.
This is a great day for beautiful Druridge Bay and for people power. And a huge step forward in protecting the climate and ending the era of fossil fuels.
Guy Shrubsole, climate campaigner
The battle to save Druridge Bay was won thanks to the hundreds of local campaigners who protested against the opencast coal mine, as well as the thousands of climate campaigners from across the country who signed petitions, gave evidence, went to rallies, and wrote letters to councillors. As well as being a victory for the environment, Druridge Bay is also a victory for people power. When everyone works together, wonderful things can be achieved.
Header image © Doug Belshaw via Creative Commons license.