Britain approved its first new deep coal mine in decades on Wednesday to produce the high-polluting fuel for use in steelmaking, a decision which drew criticism from opponents who say it will hinder climate targets, Trend reports citing Reuters.
The Woodhouse Colliery, to be developed by West Cumbria Mining in northwest England, seeks to extract coking coal which is used in the steel industry rather than for electricity generation. It is expected to create around 500 jobs.
The project, unveiled in 2014, has come under criticism from the British government's own independent climate advisory panel as well as opposition parties, climate activists and organisations, including Greta Thunberg and Greenpeace.
"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," a spokesperson for the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said after minister Michael Gove granted permission.
"The mine seeks to be net zero in its operations and is expected to contribute to local employment and the wider economy."
The majority of the coal produced is expected to be exported to Europe. Planning documents show that more than 80% of the coal the mine will produce annually is forecast to, after five years, be sent to an export terminal on England's east coast.