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South Lakes Action on Climate Change challenge Secretary of State over Whitehaven coal mine plan

Coal mine protest in Penrith in August last year

A Cumbrian campaign group has challenged the secretary of state to reconsider “calling in” the decision over plans for an undersea coal mine off Whitehaven.

South Lakes Action on Climate Change wrote to Robert Jenrick, housing, communities and local government secretary this morning.

The “pre-action” letter has been sent on behalf of Richard Buxton Solicitors, the first step towards a judicial review.

SLACC say they are hoping Mr Jenrick will issue a “holding direction” to prevent Cumbria County Council from approving the application.

Two weeks ago Cumbria County Council revealed that it would reconsider the application “in light of new information”.

County council planners gave the green light to West Cumbria Mining to proceed with its plans for the undersea mine for coking coal last year.

In a statement, SLACC said: “We are hoping that Robert Jenrick will issue a “holding direction“ to prevent Cumbria County Council approving the application, and then properly act on SLACC’s request that the decision be called-in by considering the information that SLACC and the Committee on Climate Change have drawn to his attention.

“We are confident that, once the Secretary of State actually engages with that information, he will see that the application is of national and international importance, and will appoint a planning inspector to consider the issues.

Last week South Lakes MP Tim Farron tabled an Early Day Motion in Parliament calling on the Government to ditch plans for a new deep coal mine in Cumbria.

Cumbria County Council has previously claimed “the greenhouse gas emissions of the
mining operations would be broadly carbon neutral”.

Mr Jenrick has been asked to respond by March 4. The next step would be for SLACC’s lawyers to apply to the court for permission to proceed with a judicial review.

Earlier this month 79 concerned groups wrote to the Prime Minister to ask why the plans had not been referred to an inquiry.