Cumbria County Council has withdrawn its approval for controversial plans to build a coal mine in West Cumbria.
The Planning Inspectorate – the Government’s planning regulator – called in the proposals for the Woodhouse Colliery site, which would be built on the former Marchon site in the Kells area of Whitehaven, on March 25.
Statements and comments from interested parties were required by today with inquiry evidence required by August 10.
Cumbria County Council has submitted its ‘Statement of Case’ today, outlining it will now take a neutral stance to the application, leaving the decision to the Planning Inspectorate.
The inquiry itself will be held on September 7. The location is yet to be disclosed.
The final decision on the controversial plans to construct a new coking coal mine were called in by the Local Government Minister Robert Jenrick.
A letter sent to the county council in March from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government stated that the Government “places a strong emphasis on localism and decentralisation, and the general approach of the Secretary of State is, therefore, not to interfere with the decision-making process of democratically elected local councils on planning matters”.
The letter added that the “planning application for this development was first submitted to Cumbria County Council in May 2017 and has been considered by your planning committee on three occasions, without a final outcome being reached.”
Cuumbria County Council approved the plans for the third time in October.
Following the annoucement that the authority will now take a neutral apprach to the proposals, campaign group Friends of the Earth say the case for the coal mine “is at its weakest”.
Estelle Worthington, North West campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: “Once again, we see support for this controversial coal mine continue to fall by the wayside.”
“This only strengthens our position that it should never have been in the pipeline in the first place. We can fight both the climate crisis and unemployment by directing support to industries such as renewable energy.
“Now, as the time for public comments draws to a close, the case for dirty coal is at its weakest, both locally and nationally. Let’s put an to end this climate hypocrisy once and for all and leave Cumbrian coal in the ground.”
A Cumbria County Council spokesman said: “The council received a letter from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government on March 11, 2021 informing us that the Secretary of State has decided to “call-in” the planning application submitted by West Cumbria Mining Ltd and to hold a public inquiry. Consequently the application will now be determined by the Secretary of State.
“Cumbria County Council has submitted a statement of case on May 5, 2021 in line with the requirements of the public inquiry and is committed to supporting the planning inspector to determine the application.”