Woodhouse Colliery
The 16-day inquiry begins today. Credit: via planning documents

Inquiry on £160m Cumbria coal mine kicks off 

Dan Whelan

First lodged in 2017, West Cumbria Mining’s proposals have caused controversy at a time when scrutiny of the environment and sustainability has never been more intense.

After much clamouring from objectors for the plans to be called-in, a 16-day inquiry on the Woodhouse Colliery scheme begins today. Planning inspector Stephen Normington chairs the inquiry, which can be viewed online.

The Cumbria County Council has adopted a position of neutrality for the inquiry and will neither support nor object to the plan. 

Those speaking against the scheme at the inquiry include Friends of the Earth and South Lakes Action Against Climate Change, as well as several other stakeholders. 

The project would see a mine for coking coal, largely for use in the steel industry, created on a 689-acre site near Whitehaven. 

The £165m proposal would allow for mineral extraction over 50 years. Around 2.7m tonnes of metallurgical coal would be extracted every year. 

Supporters of the project argue that the mine will help reduce the UK’s reliance on importing coal. 

However, there has been strong opposition to the proposals from several environmentalist groups including Friends of the Earth. 

When the date for the inquiry was set earlier this year, a spokesperson for Friends of the Earth said: “The reality is that with the world in the middle of a climate crisis, new coal mines shouldn’t be allowed.  

“Instead, the government should fast-track the development of a zero-carbon future, and reap the benefits from the new jobs and opportunities this will bring.” 

Cumbria County Council first approved the Woodhouse Colliery proposal from West Cumbria Mining unanimously in March 2019. 

The decision to approve the plans angered conservationists and environmental groups but the Secretary of State Robert Jenrick initially refused to intervene. 

Revised plans were then lodged in 2020 following new evidence into the climate impacts of the scheme. Once again, Cumbria gave the project the go-ahead and once again Jenrick refused to get involved. 

However, pressure has since mounted both locally and nationally, forcing the Secretary of State to call in the plan. 

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This will be a revealing test of how willing this Government is to lead the rapid transition away from fossil fuels.

By Very Concerned

The country has gone senile in pandering to the green lobby for political expediency. I for one will continue to eat cheese and drink milk furthermore refuse to wear hessian sandles in mid winter cos all the cows have gone. And synthetic materials like plastic and rubber are oil-based and that too is band.
Also I seem to remember that the Romans grew grapes on the North East 2000 yrs ago.
Global warming is cyclical and always will be.
Oh yes, could the greens sanction the culling of 20% of the population for exhaling carbon dioxide and stop vulcanisiam. And at the end of this rant the folk who are demonstrating are not working So stop finding their dole for they are not looking for work. Cheers

By A Geologist

There’s a smokescreen that it is needed by the steel industry for coking coal, but surely the way forward is to use alternate methods, such as hydrogen, like Sweden and other places do!

By Anon