UK to rule on new coal mining project in the North East.

Britain’s Banks Mining said it expects an end this month to its near four-year wait to see whether it can develop a coal mine in northeastern England, after it received a letter from the government department responsible outlining its time frame, Reuters reports.

Northumberland County Council agreed in 2016 that the developer, a division of The Banks Group, could extract 3 million tonnes of coal by cutting an open cast, or surface, mine near Druridge Bay, Highthorn.

However, then local government minister Sajid Javid rejected the application following a public inquiry, saying the proposal could hamper the country’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and curb climate change.

Banks Mining won a legal challenge against the decision which meant it was send back to the government for further consideration.

“A letter sent to Banks Mining on behalf of Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP, secretary of state for Housing, Communities & Local Government, has stated that the government hopes to announce its decision no later than April 7,” Banks Mining said in a statement on Wednesday.

Environmentalists have criticised the plans, saying the mine would destroy an area of natural beauty and that extracting more coal is at odds with international pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under the Paris climate pact. The move would be at odds with the UK's dependency on coal declining as more electricity is generated by renewable sources: during the third quarter of 2019 the electricity mix from renewables rose to 40% - more than from fossil fuels.

Supporters of the project have said it could bring much-needed jobs to the region, and help to reduce Britain’s reliance on coal imports.

Britain’s coal demand was around 8 million tonnes in 2019, provisional government data showed, while indigenous production was around 2.2 million tonnes.

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