Over 40 Tory MPs & leaders sign letter calling for controversial new coal mine in West Cumbria to go ahead

  • Video report by political correspondent Tom Sheldrick

More than 40 Conservative MPs and local figures have signed a letter calling for a controversial new coal mine in West Cumbria to go ahead.

In it, they accuse Labour County Council leadership of "a political decision relating to a quasi-judicial process" and putting economic growth at "serious risk" by reconsidering plans.

The letter, signed by a total of 43 Members of Parliament and northern Conservative leaders, including the Mayors of  Copeland Borough Council; and the Tees Valley, has been sent to the Labour leader of Cumbria County Council, Stuart Young.

Last week, the council said it would 'reconsider' plans in light of 'new information' over UK greenhouse gas targets.

The new facility near Whitehaven, which would be used to extract coking coal for steel production, was previously granted planning permission by the local authority. It would be the UK's first deep coal mine operation in 30 years.

It would be the first new deep coal mine in the UK for 30 years. Credit: West Cumbria Mining

The Government's climate advisers, leading scientists and green groups have criticised the coal mine, which comes in the run-up to the UK hosting the major Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow in November. 

However, the group of Conservative MPs argue that West Cumbria’s mine falls within the government agendas for net zero by 2050 and levelling up and the aim to upskill our workforce to strengthen  regional and local economies. 

Mark Jenkinson, the Member of Parliament for Workington said: "By blocking the West Cumbrian coal mine, Labour is failing workers in our industrial heartlands and denying more than 500 well-paid jobs in Cumbria and a further 2000 jobs through the supply chain and local service providers across our region.” 

Cumbria County Council has received backing from Shadow Chancellor Anneliese  Dodds. and the Shadow Business Secretary Ed Milliband.

Last week, Miliband welcomed the council's decision to reconsider the West Cumbria coal mine.

He said: "The UK cannot claim to be a climate leader whilst opening a new coal mine and Ministers must realise that by doing so they undermine our credibility both at home and abroad.

“Labour is determined to safeguard the UK’s primary steelmaking capacity and provide the industry with a secure long-term future through the kind of financial support that other countries are offering, including helping steel make a fair transition to a green future which safeguards jobs.

“People in Cumbria deserve good, secure jobs and there are so many crying out to be done in the green industries of the future."

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