Cumbria mine: Chief executive of mining company questioned on day three

The hearing into a proposed mine in west Cumbria continued today. Credit: West Cumbria Mining

The chief executive of a mining company which wants to open a new development in west Cumbria has been giving evidence at a public inquiry today.

Mark Kirkbride is in charge of West Cumbria Mining, which has plans to open a mine for coking coal - used to make steel - near Whitehaven.

This development was first proposed in 2014 and has been given planning approval by Cumbria County Council three times. Earlier this year, the Government announced that it was calling in the decision for a public inquiry.

Mr Kirkbride was questioned by the lawyer representing his firm - Gregory Jones QC - as well as those from opponents to the plans. He told the hearing he was a qualified mining engineer and had been in the industry for almost 30 years.

He was asked about the number of people who might be employed at the mine, after opponents had challenged the company's claims that it could employ more than 500 people with the majority recruited locally as this figure had been altered over time.

He added that it was not unusual for figures to vary as plans develop and added: "It's unbelievable to think that we could operate this mine with 200 or 300 and with the technology we don't need 1,000."

Mr Kirkbride also reiterated that the company planned to recruit the majority of staff from the local area.

Rowan Clapp, who represents South Lakes Action on Climate Change (SLACC), then cross-examined Mr Kirkbride and asked if the chief executive had a financial interest in the company he runs and Mr Kirkbride confirmed that he did.

He was then challenged over claims made by the company that it planning to use local people to fill the majority of roles, pointing out that its wording says it "intends" to do this.

Mr Kirkbride replied:

The inquiry continues and can be watched online here.

Read more: