The Government has pushed back a decision on whether to go ahead with a new coal mine Cumbria for the third time this year.
A verdict was expected by next Tuesday on 8 November, however it has been delayed until after next week’s COP27 climate summit in Egypt.
The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities confirmed the deadline has been delayed by a month, and a decision would now be made “on or before 8 December 2022”.
The Planning Inspectorate’s report looking into whether West Cumbria Mining could mine coking coal at the former Marchon chemical works site was submitted to Government in April.
However, Downing Street has argued it needs more time to consider the case.
If approved, the site would be the first deep coal mine in the UK for more than three decades.
The proposed mine at Whitehaven would extract coking coal from beneath the Irish Sea for steel production – and would not be used for power generation.
The site has attracted criticism from rural campaigners such as the Countryside Alliance.
A spokesperson said: “It beggars belief that other world leaders are about to meet to hammer out the details for a zero carbon future, while the UK ponders whether to recommit to the pollution of the past. There are no ifs or buts. Coal must be consigned to the dustbin of history where it belongs.”
The original deadline for the decision was 7 July, the day former Prime Minister Boris Johnson stepped down.
A second deadline for a decision was set for 17 August – but this was pushed back to 8 November, before the latest delay today.
The decision is supposed to be made by the Levelling Up Secretary of State, which has changed hands three times in the past four months.
This includes two stints from current incumbent, Michael Gove.