The proposal for a new mining facility in the Whitehaven and St Bees area to produce Coking coal for the British and European steel industry, which has been approved three times by Cumbria County Council, moved a step closer to being approved today as the government confirmed that they will not try to block the application.
This is very welcome news: I spoke in favour of the application, much of which is located in the area I represent. It has overwhelming support among the public in the Whitehaven and St Bees area - the vast majority of the opposition comes from at the nearest the opposite side of the county and in many cases the opposite side of the country.
The application was approved by councillors of all parties: the first two votes were unanimous, in the most recent vote, after members of the county council's DC&R committee had been put under sustained and enormous pressure by vociferous opponents of the proposal, the West Cumbria Mining application was supported by the great majority of members of the planning committee including a majority of councillors on the committee from all three political parties, plus the independent member.
The application also has the support of the local MP and all the other Conservative MPs representing seats in Cumbria. Cumbria’s Conservative MPs described today’s announcement as ‘great day for West Cumbria’.
Trudy Harrison, MP for Copeland, said:
“I have consistently fully supported the West Cumbria Mining Project which will bring considerable investment, hundreds of well-paid permanent jobs, apprenticeship opportunities, skills training for young people, opportunities for local suppliers and Woodhouse Colliery will be sited in an area which has been one of Copeland’s more deprived areas.
“I very much welcome that West Cumbria Mining have indicated that 80 per cent of jobs will be sourced locally and that is good news for Copeland.
“West Cumbria Mining will be an innovative leader in coking coal extraction. I welcome the news that the government has decided not to call in the original planning decision.
“I would now urge West Cumbria Mining and Cumbria County Council to work closely together on the remaining legal planning obligations to get this project over the line.”
When operational the mine will supply metallurgical coal to the UK and international steel industry, deliver hundreds of local jobs and support a first-class supply chain across the county.
Mark Kirkbride, chief executive of West Cumbria Mining, said: “I am delighted that the holding direction has been lifted following what has been an extremely rigorous planning process.
“My team and I are now looking forward to concluding planning sign-off and then being able to commence preparatory steps to begin site work later this year.
“WCM would like to thank all those people and organisations, both in the local community and further afield, who have supported the project over the past six years with particular thanks to Copeland MP Trudy Harrison, Workington MP Mark Jenkinson, Copeland mayor Mike Starkie and Allerdale deputy leader Mike Johnson.”