A group set up in support of plans for an £160 million coal mine off the coast of Whitehaven says it has been overwhelmed with the support it has received in the last 24 hours.
A Public Inquiry started today into the decision to give the plans the go-ahead, expected to last around four weeks.
We Support West Cumbria Mining said it was representing the silent majority and the thousands of supporters for the mine, put forward by West Cumbria Mining, and wanted to see it go ahead.
The mine has been approved three times by Cumbria County Council but was called in by the Government in the wake of climate change concerns.
It will mine coking coal for steel-making and aims to create hundreds of jobs, but protestors say it should not go ahead.
Friends of the Earth, one of the objectors which will be represented at the Public Inquiry, said: “With the world hurtling towards catastrophic climate change we should be slamming on the brakes, not hitting the accelerator with yet more fossil fuels.”
A spokesman for We Support West Cumbria Mining said: “For many supporters, it was seen as a foregone conclusion that WCM would get the go-ahead with Cumbria County Council saying yes on three different occasions.
“The silent majority has always been there as has local support, though not in the same limelight as the protesters.”
Stephen Murphy, of the group, added: “I can’t believe the number of messages, emails and comments coming through. It is great to see so many local people coming together to voice and show their support for this project – not only for the global environmental benefit it will bring, but also the technology it will bring to Britain’s Energy Coast, as well as the community support from West Cumbria Mining.”
This week saw the first face-to-face meeting of the members of WSWCM outside the West Cumbria Mine offices at Haig Pit, with the intention of raising the profile of the group.
In the last 48 hours, the group membership has doubled and as thousands of locals voice their opinions and support for the project.
John Greasley, of We Support West Cumbria Mining, added: “There is growing frustration among local people that outside groups are trying to dictate the agenda for West Cumbria.
“It is strange, as both sides want to see the green transition succeed, but without a doubt, the road to success will mean a huge increase in the demand for raw materials. Steel production will need to increase substantially to meet the demand for wind turbines.
Local people see the need for a local supply of coking coal to power the transition right up until green hydrogen is available in sufficient quantities to take over. The group is a way for them to vent this frustration and make their voices heard.”
Further walks in support of the mine are planned for the next four weeks to demonstrate the strength of the local support during the Public Inquiry.
You can watch the Public Inquiry here: