Unite, the UK’s largest union, has lambasted the decision of communities secretary Sajid Javid to block the open cast coal mining development in Highthorn Northumberland.

Mr Javid made the decision on the ‘grounds of climate change’ however it will result in UK industries such as steel, building products and concrete production having to import coal from overseas including from Russia, the United States and Colombia.

The Highthorn development would have created 100 well paid full time jobs and invested £87 million into the local economy. In blocking the decision Javid ignored the recommendation of Northumberland county council and the Planning Inspector who both recommended approval.

The decision to cite ‘climate change’ fails to take into account that UK coal producers pay £23 a tonne in carbon tax and that Banks Group, which was behind the Highthorn development, is committed to totally reinstate the landscape when mining work is completed.

Unite national officer Jerry Swain said: “This is a disgraceful decision which is all about political opportunism and not about climate change.

“This is the second time in a week after the passports fiasco that a north east company has been kicked in the teeth by the government. At this time of economic uncertainty and when the north east is in most need of support, this decision is the height of political illiteracy.

“UK industries will still require millions of tonnes of coal every year and it can’t be environmentally friendly to import it from the other side of the world.

“It is imperative that this short-sighted decision is overturned and that the Highthorn development is allowed to go ahead, this is in the best interests of the company, the region, the economy and the local workforce.”


Notes to editors:

For more information please contact Unite communications officer Barckley Sumner on 020 3371 2067 or 07802 329235. Email: barckley.sumner@unitetheunion.org

Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.