Decision on controversial coal mine to be reconsidered

The proposals for Woodhouse Colliery

Plans for a controversial Cumbrian coal mine are back under scrutiny after councillors said they would reconsider a decision to award it planning permission.

The West Cumbria Mining (WCM) proposal aims to supply the UK and international steel industry with coal, delivering around 500 local jobs.

It was approved in November, 2019, after the Government declined to call in plans for the £175m scheme near Whitehaven.

Ministers agreed with Cumbria County Council’s unanimous decision in May that year to approve the planning application for the project, said to be one of the most modern mines in the world.

WCM said mining could begin at the Woodhouse Colliery within two years.

But the decision to allow the scheme has attracted mounting criticism from environmentalists who argue coal mining would produce harmful greenhouse gases.

Tim Farron, the Liberal Democrat MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale who called on the Government to call in the scheme, described the news the plans had been passed as “a kick in the teeth in the fight to tackle climate change”.

Now, Cumbria County Council has said it will reconsider its decision on the basis that new information has come to light.

A council spokesperson said: “This decision has been taken because in December 2020, the Government’s Climate Change Committee released its report on its recommendations for the Sixth Carbon Budget, a requirement under the Climate Change Act.

“The report, among other things, sets out the volume of greenhouse gases the UK aims to emit during 2033-2037.

“This new information has been received prior to the issue of the formal decision notice on the application.

“In light of this the council has decided that the planning application should be reconsidered by the Development Control and Regulation (DC&R) Committee.”

WCM said it expected to extract around 2.5 million tonnes of high quality coal from Woodhouse.

It had been developing its plans since 2014.

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