Victory for campaigners against coal mine in Northumberland beauty-spot

04 May 2018

DAVID GOLDING

Druridge Bay, Northumberland, where an application for an opencast coal mine has been rejected

Druridge Bay, Northumberland, where an application for an opencast coal mine has been rejected

LOBBYING by Christians has played a significant part in a campaign that climate-change supporters say is a turning point in the fight against fossil fuels.

In March, the Government rejected an application for coal mining at the remote beauty spot of Druridge Bay, in Northumberland, overturning a public inquiry’s support for the proposal. The ruling by the then Local Government Secretary, Sajid Javid, was mainly based on the damaging impacts of greenhouse gases.

The decision was described by the development co-ordinator of the pressure group North East Call to Action on Global Poverty and and Climate Change (NE-CAP), Dr David Golding, as “sounding the possible death knell for coal in the UK”, and resulted from the “crucial” part played by scientists and Christian campaigners.

He said that scores of supporters of his group who were associated with the Christian relief and development agencies CAFOD, Christian Aid, and Tearfund had written to planners at Northumberland County Council, “citing their concerns for creation care”. More than 11,000 people signed a petition opposing the mine.

Dr Golding, a member of the congregation at Whitley Bay Baptist Church and an honorary chaplain at Newcastle University, said: “A line has been crossed with the Government’s decision, which may well set a precedent and sound the death knell for this most polluting of all fuels in the UK, with reverberations elsewhere. ‘Creation carers’ are hoping and praying that it will be so. We simply cannot go on treating the atmosphere as an open sewer into which we can pour our pollution.”

He said that NE-CAP, which had grown out of the Jubilee Debt Campaign of 2000, had had “a significant and worthwhile input” to the campaign. “It was a facilitating service, providing a briefing for its contacts and supporters to look at and decide if they wanted to lobby MPs, the planning authority, and others.

“I would not characterise it as a Christian group — we encourage the support of all people of good will, of all faiths and of none — but it certainly is a Christian-led group, and a largely Christian-supported group, and we do have an annual Christian service. This was done out of respect for God’s creation.”

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