BLACK paint has been poured over the walls of Michael Gove's office building after protesters voiced their opposition to the UK's first new coal mine in 30 years. 

Activists from Extinction Rebellion poured black paint, lit black flares and glued themselves to the ground outside the Department of Levelling Up, Housing & Communities in London. 

They claimed that Michael Gove's decision to green light a new coal mine in Whitehaven in Cumbria was "complete madness" and called on the UK Government to end all new fossil fuel projects. 

Gove granted planning permission for the new mine in December and has said that the estimated £165 million investment will create 500 new jobs for the region. 

The mine is expected to produce around 2.8m tonnes of coking coal - which is used the manufacture of steel - and generate 400,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually, equivalent to adding 200,000 cars to the UK's roads. 

The National: Extinction Rebellion protesters outside the Department for Levelling UpExtinction Rebellion protesters outside the Department for Levelling Up (Image: Extinction Rebellion)

The vast majority of the coal is expected to be exported as most British steel producers do not use coal in their production. 

The group say that if so-called "scope 3" emissions were included in the Government's climate calculations for the mine, then it would not adhere to the UK's net-zero strategy. 

Scope 3 emissions account for the emissions produced when transporting the coal and when it is actually burned. 

Marijn Van Der Geer of Extinction Rebellion UK said: “Extinction Rebellion wants a citizen-led transition away from fossil fuels via a Citizens’ Assembly on Climate and Ecological Justice.

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"Providing unstable jobs in the coal sector during a climate crisis in a region where there are limited economic opportunities is not justice.

"Opening a coal mine in a region that is already disproportionately affected by the climate crisis with floods increasing and unprecedented rainfall is complete madness.”

It comes after Extinction Rebellion vowed to temporarily pause any activism which causes disruption to the general public. 

A spokesperson for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said:

"The Secretary of State has agreed to grant planning permission for a new metallurgical coal mine in Cumbria as recommended by the independent planning inspector.

“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 reasons for the Secretary of State’s decision are set out in full in his published letter, alongside the report of the independent planning inspector who oversaw the inquiry. It would be inappropriate to comment further on ongoing legal proceedings.”