Protesters have demanded an end to plans for a coal mine in Cumbria after the Government signed off on the project.
About 60 demonstrators gathered at the Marchon site on Wilson Pit Road, Whitehaven, on Saturday morning, where they urged the Government to create green energy jobs, rather than fossil fuel jobs, in the area.
But opponents warn it will create more greenhouse gas emissions and say it is hypocritical amid UK efforts to show climate leadership and to urge the world to give up coal.
Protesters on Saturday chanted: “Coal, don’t do it” and “Leave it in the ground”, while a choir sang songs including What A Wonderful World.
The group pinned banners on the fence of the site, reading: “Fossil Fools” and “Coal out renewables in”.
Some also carried placards with messages like: “Fossil fuels must stay in the ground”; “No new coal”; and “Say no to West Cumbria mining”.
Estelle Worthington, Friends of the Earth’s north-west regional campaigner, said: “The Government’s decision to give the go-ahead to this polluting and unnecessary coal mine has been met with widespread opposition – locally, nationally, and internationally.
“Local people have come together today to say West Cumbria deserves far better than this.
Hazel Graham, climate jobs campaigner, said: “There have been attempts to divide us and attempts to patronise us when West Cumbria Mining explain why we need this coal mine.
“They are trying to pit the need for jobs for our generation against the need for our kids to have a living planet.”
“So they have to try to divide us because they see that throwing us mouldy crumbs of a small number of jobs in a dying industry won’t keep us quiet when what we need is thousands of secure, long-term, well-paid climate jobs.”
US climate diplomat John Kerry suggested earlier on Saturday that he will keep a close eye on the proposed new mine.
Mr Kerry, President Joe Biden’s special envoy on climate, stopped short of criticising the Government’s decision but told The Guardian he would be seeking information on the coal mine.
“Coal is not exactly the direction that the world is trying to move in, or needs to move in. What I want to know is the level of abatement here and the comparison of this particular process in the production of steel.”
Business and engineering experts have questioned the investment in an “1850s technology” to supply coal for steel manufacture as the sector looks to shift to cleaner production methods.
Communities Secretary Michael Gove has acknowledged the scheme may be subject to a legal challenge, but insisted it would be a net-zero project and claimed it “would to some extent support the transition to net zero”.
A Department for Levelling Up spokesperson said: “This coal will be used for the production of steel and would otherwise need to be imported. It will not be used for power generation.
“The mine seeks to be net zero in its operations and is expected to contribute to local employment and the wider economy.”