THE Scottish Greens have said the UK Government has “bulldozed a Westminster-sized hole” into its net zero commitments after approving the first new coal mine in 30 years. 

Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove has provoked anger from environmental campaigners after approving a controversial new coal mine in Cumbria. 

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) said the coal will be used for the production of steel and not for power generation. 

Friends of the Earth described it as an “appalling decision” that will damage the fight against the climate crisis. 

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The Scottish Greens environment spokesperson Mark Ruskell MSP said: “This Tory government has just bulldozed a Westminster-sized hole into the UK’s net zero commitments. 

“There is no sense in this reckless climate vandalism. It will have a devastating impact for years to come. 

“The science doesn’t lie, to escape global catastrophe we have to stop drilling for coal, for oil and for gas.”

The Conservative peer John Gummer, chairman of the Climate Change Committee which advises the Government, condemned his government's decision. 

“The UK’s hard-fought global influence on climate is diminished by today’s decision”, he said. 

He added it also “sends entirely the wrong signal to other countries about the UK’s climate priorities”. 

The decision comes a little over a year after the UK hosted the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, where it lobbied other countries to “consign coal to history”. 

The National: Michael Gove approved the first new coal mine in the UK in 30 yearsMichael Gove approved the first new coal mine in the UK in 30 years (Image: PA)

Ruskell continued: “This announcement is the exact opposite of everything we should be doing. What we need is a just and urgent transition from fossil fuels to renewables

“Time and again the Tories have shown that they cannot be trusted with our environment. Despite the climate emergency, they have doubled down on the failed policies of the past.”

A statement from the DLUHC said Gove “agreed to grant planning permission for a new metallurgical coal mine in Cumbria as recommended by the independent planning inspector”. 

A statement read: “This coal will be used for the production of steel and would otherwise need to be imported. It will not be used for power generation. 

“The mine seeks to be net zero in its operations and is expected to contribute to local employment and the wider economy.”

Friends of the Earth campaigner Tony Bosworth said approving the mine was a “misguided and deeply damaging mistake”. 

“The mine isn’t needed, will add to global climate emissions, and won’t replace Russian coal.”

The planning inspector who recommended the site’s approval wrote that the development would “have an overall neutral effect on climate change”.