Government call in plans for controversial new coal mine in West Cumbria

The government has intervened in controversial plans for a new coal mine in West Cumbria.

Planning Secretary Robert Jenrick has decided to call in the proposals, and said they should be considered at a public inquiry.

In a letter published this evening (Thursday 11 March), the Government said its climate change advisers had published new recommendations on carbon emissions since a previous decision not to intervene in the process, and "controversy about the application has increased".

It also said that Mr Jenrick had decided "this application raises planning issues of more than local importance". Ministers had previously insisted that Cumbria County Council should decide on the plans.

West Cumbria Mining says the mine, near Whitehaven, would create at least 500 jobs and produce coking coal for the steel industry.

Earlier this week the company said it would take legal action against the council, after it decided to review proposals, having previously granted planning permission.

Pressure has been growing on the Government to block the mine, ahead of hosting the COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow in November.

The mine, which would be the UK’s first deep coal mine in 30 years, has been opposed by leading scientists and climate crisis activists like Greta Thunberg.

Climate activist Greta Thunberg Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA

In a letter to Cumbria County Council, the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government said Mr Jenrick had decided the application should be referred to him rather than dealt with by the local planning authority.

"There are occasions when it is appropriate for Secretary of State to use his call-in powers and he considers that this application should be called in for his own determination," the letter said.

"The Secretary of State accordingly directs, under his powers in section 77 of the 1990 Act, that the application shall be referred to him instead of being dealt with by the local planning authority."

Last night, ITV News Westminster Correspondent Daniel Hewitt said he understood Copeland MP Trudy Harrison will not resign as the Prime Minister's Parliamentary Private Secretary over the government's decision.