Public inquiry into plans for West Cumbria coal mine will begin in September

Whitehaven in Cumbria - near where plans were made for a new coal mine. Credit: PA Images

A public inquiry into controversial plans for a deep coal mine near Whitehaven will begin on September 7, it has been confirmed.

Trudy Harrison, the Conservative MP for Copeland, says the inquiry "is anticipated to last 16 days, but could run longer."

The deadline for submission to the inquiry is Thursday May 6, according to the MP.

The inquiry will explore the arguments put forward by supporters and opponents of the project, proposed by West Cumbria Mining (WCM).

The planning inspectorate, the body which deals with planning appeals, will present the government with a recommendation. The final decision is left to ministers.

The Woodhill Colliery would mine coking coal, which is used in steelmaking and not burnt in power stations.

However, the government has come under intense pressure from scientists and campaigners who argue the mine would undermine its commitment to cutting carbon emissions.

Housing, Communities and Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick. Credit: PA

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick took the decision to “call in” the planning application earlier this month.

A letter sent to Cumbria County Council by the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) said Mr Jenrick believed the application had raised issues of “more than local importance”.