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  1. ITV Report

Councillors urged to stop plans for new coal mine in west Cumbria

Credit: PA

Campaigners against plans for a new multi-million pound coal mine in west Cumbria are holding a protest in Kendal.

They're calling on councillors to reject permission for the scheme that they claim will harm he UK’s efforts to reduce CO2 emissions.

West Cumbria Mining wants to extract coal off the coast of St Bees, with a processing plant on the former Marchon site at Kells.

They say the site would process 2.5m tonnes of coking coal a year for the UK and European steel industry, replacing imports from the US, Canada, Columbia and Russia.

In a meeting held today councillors are looking to "ratify" their original decision to grant permission for the development following a legal challenge.

The authority's planning panel were asked to look again at the controversial plans "as a matter of prudence", with a fresh ruling expected to be announced.

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Solicitors representing environmental campaigners 'Keep Cumbria Coal in the Hole' sent a letter to the council earlier this year.

Responding to claims that the authority has failed to consider greenhouse gasses from any mining operations, planning chiefs have said that the emissions from the site would be "broadly carbon neutral".

They argue west Cumbria would cut the need to import coking coal from further afield, actually leading to a reduced carbon footprint.

"There is nothing that would warrant a different recommendation or that would put the council's original decision at significant risk," the report concludes.

Plans for the new coal mine in West Cumbria were approved in March. Credit: West Coast Mining

Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron presented a petition to the House of Commons calling on the Secretary of State to rule against the plans.

Speaking in the House of Commons Tim said: “I seek to present a petition on behalf of 1,852 residents of Cumbria who oppose the proposed West Cumbrian coal mine, believing that as I do that in the fight to prevent climate catastrophe it is vital that we keep fossil fuels in the ground.

“The petitioners request that the Secretary of State calls in the application for his own determination at the earliest opportunity and that he rule against the opening of the mine.”

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All the other Cumbrian MPs apart from Tim Farron, who opposes the mine, and Workington's Sue Hayman, who is yet to commit to a position, have formally expressed their support.

Copeland's elected mayor Mike Starkie is a supporter while Labour's prospective parliamentary candidate for Copeland, Tony Lywood, has also given it his backing.

Haig Pit, Whitehaven Credit: ITV Border

The mine is next to the site of the former colliery in Whitehaven. If plans go ahead, it would be Britain’s first new deep coal mine for 30 years.

Work on the site is expected to begin before the end of the year, creating an estimated 500 jobs in west Cumbria.