LONDON, March 5 (Reuters) - The British government has delayed a decision on whether to allow a new open cast coal mine to be built in northeastern England, the developers of the project said on Monday.
Northumberland County Council agreed last year that developer The Banks Group could extract 3 million tonnes of coal by cutting an open cast, or surface mine, near Druridge Bay, Highthorn but the minister for local government, Sajid Javid, called for a public enquiry.
The minister was due to issue a final verdict on Monday, but The Banks Group said in a statement this had been delayed, without giving a new deadline.
“We remain keen to progress our investment and job creation plans at Highthorn as soon as possible, and are therefore extremely disappointed at this further delay,” Jeannie Kielty, the group’s community relations manager, said in the statement.
Officials at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government were immediately available to comment on whether the decision had been postponed.
Britain plans to phase-out coal use at its power stations by 2025, and has led an international charge for other countries to do the same.
Environmentalist have criticised the plans for a new mine in Britain, saying it 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.
Proponents of the project argue it could bring much needed jobs to an economically deprived part of the country.
The Banks Group says Highthorn will employ 100 people and generate almost 50 million pounds ($69 million) in related contracts and other benefits to the community.
$1 = 0.7235 pounds Reporting by Susanna Twidale Editing by Edmund Blair