Coal mining proposal for Whitehaven

A planning application has been submitted for Woodhouse Colliery, a coal mine at the Marchon Works site close to Whitehaven, Cumbria. Proposed by West Cumbria Mining, the consent covers mineral extraction over 689 acres running to the St Bees coast over a 50-year period.

The application is to develop an existing surface mine entrance for a new underground metallurgical coal mine and associated surface development including offices, a welfare building, storage and processing buildings, an access road from Mirehouse Road in the Pow Beck Valley, and an underground coal conveyor linking to the Cumbria coast railway line.

Dating back to the Second World War, the Marchon Works site has been used for a variety of chemical and energy-related purposes, at one point being the largest single-site producer of sulphuric acid in Europe. The site closed in 2005.

Woodhouse is close to the Haig pit, which was mined for coal until it closed in 1986. A mining museum was subsequently opened at the Haig site, but closed last year.

WCM believes that there is up to 750 million tonnes of steel-making coal resources across the area, and reports strong interest in jobs from the local community. The Sussex-based business is headed by coal mining engineer Mark Kirkbride, and has secured £14.7m in private equity backing from EMR Capital Resources.

Consultation on the scheme is open until 10 July, with three public information sessions to be held later this month.

Helen Davies, spokesman for WCM, said: “This is a significant milestone for the project and the local area. We do hope that people will take up the opportunity to voice their support or concern to ensure that the project progresses in a way which best suits the majority.

“We are looking forward to our open days at the end of June and hearing people’s thoughts – they have previously been overwhelmingly positive and we hope that this support is translated into supporting our planning application.”

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