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‘If you're in a hole, stop digging’: XR activists urge government to end coal mining

ENVIRONMENTAL activists dug holes in a lawn outside the Home Office today to protest against coalmine expansion in Durham. 

Members of Extinction Rebellion said that they wanted to tell Tory Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick, who holds the power to revoke the expansion: “If you’re in a hole stop digging.” 

The activists quickly reduced the narrow strip of lawn to mounds of soil outside the government building, which is also the site of the planning ministry led by Mr Jenrick. 

The stunt follows a protest on Wednesday outside Durham council urging it to reject planning permission to extend the Pont Valley open-cast coal site in Bradley.

Mining company Banks Group wants to extract around 90,000 tonnes of coal from 18.5 hectares of land on top of the 500,000 tonnes of coal that will be extracted from the existing site.

The council is expected to make a decision by spring. 

Protect Pont Valley campaigner and Durham resident June Davison said that she appreciated Extinction Rebellion’s attempt to draw attention to the coalfields which pump thick black dust over her community. 

“So often we hear about oil and gas,” she said. “It’s almost as though people are too incredulous to believe that coal is still being extracted and burned in the UK.

“If the government are serious about meeting climate targets and cutting the use of fossil fuels, leaving coal in the ground is the obvious thing to do.”

Extinction Rebellion pointed out that Durham council and the government have both declared a climate emergency yet they are considering opening new coalmines.

The Banks Group started extracting coal from Pont Valley in 2018.

Since then the firm has dug up huge swathes of countryside to extract coal 50m below the ground. 

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