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47 political leaders ask council why green light was withdrawn from West Cumbria Mining

Aerial CGI of Woodhouse Colliery mine site

Forty-seven MPs and political leaders have spoken out about the decision by Cumbria County Council to reconsider plans for an offshore mine in Whitehaven.

The letter has been signed by 47 Parliamentarians, alongside Mike Johnson, deputy leader of Allerdale Borough Council, Mike Starkie, mayor of Copeland and Ben Houchen, mayor of Tees Valley.

It has been sent to Stewart Young the leader of Cumbria County Council.

The county council has approved planning permission for the mine three times, but announced recently that it would reconsider the proposal in light of Government’s action on climate change.

The letter’s authors said: “West Cumbria’s mine fits perfectly with the Government agendas for net zero by 2050 and levelling up; with our the 10 point plan for a Green Industrial Revolution and with the aim to upskill our workforce to strengthen regional and local economies.”

Trudy Harrison, Copeland MP, said: “As the requirement for steel and dependence on coking coal continues, it makes no sense to turn a blind eye and offshore our emissions whilst turning away £165 million of inward investment.

“West Cumbria Mine will be a world leading, low emission, environmentally conscious development in a world where the transition from fossil fuel dependency to clean energy generation is wholly reliant on steel, for the long- term.”

Mr Starkie said: “Last week Cumbria County Council should have issued the relevant permits in line with the planning decision to West Cumbria Mining.

“It is shocking that instead of doing just that they have sent it back to the planning panel to reconsider for a fourth time.

“This decision to delay and put at risk huge investment and jobs into our local economy is just another example of how poor they are. Local Government reform and the demise of Cumbria County Council will not come a moment too soon.”

Mark Jenkinson, Workington MP, said: “I am incredibly disappointed by Cumbria County Council’s short- sighted and 11th-hour decision to consider the application for Woodhouse Colliery for a fourth time.”

Simon Fell, MP for Barrow and Furness, said: “Steel underpins every single renewable technology that we need to employ to hit our net zero target and we cannot make that steel without coking coal.

“The choice we face is whether to offshore the carbon debt of mining coking coal to countries like Russia and accept the huge environmental and humanitarian cost of doing so, or to allow this mine to proceed and wrap our own high environmental standards around it.

“We simply can’t pretend that this is all someone else’s problem, and pat ourselves on the back for hitting Net Zero 2050 while outsourcing the problem elsewhere.”

John Stevenson, MP for Carlisle, said: “This is a significant investment which will make a substantial difference to the local Cumbrian economy and the lives of many individuals and families who live there.

“As has been said many times this is coking coal used for a particular purpose which would otherwise have to be imported with all the implications for carbon targets.

“There are therefore a variety of benefits to home mining that can fit in with our carbon commitments.”

Mr Johnson said: “It is staggering that Cumbria County Council feels the need to revisit this planning application for a fourth time, having had it approved three times already.

“This feels like a wholly unnecessary process and not the best use of public funds.

“I would be interested to know who has made this decision and why?

“As deputy leader of Allerdale Borough Council, I was to see growth. The jobs and the investment that West Cumbria Mining will provide is certainly welcomed by me.”