Whitehaven coal mine approval to be reviewed by judge

Artist's impression Image copyright West Cumbria Mining Company
Image caption Woodhouse Colliery would be the first new deep mine colliery for three decades

The lawfulness of a decision to allow Cumbria's first deep coal mine in 30 years is to be considered by a judge.

Campaign group Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole (KCCH) has been granted permission for a judicial review of Cumbria County Council's approval.

The group is challenging permission for a coking coal mine at St Bees and a processing plant on the former Marchon chemical works site in Whitehaven.

The county council said it could not comment while the review was pending.

West Cumbria Mining, which submitted the plans, also declined to comment.

The authority's development control and regulation committee voted unanimously to give the site planning permission in March last year.

The decision was ratified in October despite the authority being warned it had failed to consider the greenhouse gas emissions of the mining operations, solicitors for the campaigners said.

In November the government declined to intervene, a decision Westmorland and Lonsdale Liberal Democrat MP Tim Farron called "a kick in the teeth in the fight to tackle climate change".

Image copyright Google
Image caption The coke would be processed at the old Marchon chemical works site in Whitehaven

Solicitor Rowan Smith said the action "shines a light on how all local planning authorities should assess the climate change impacts of development of this nature".

This was particularly the case considering the government's commitment to a net zero carbon emission target by 2050, he said.

KCCH's objections also concern the proximity of the mine to the nuclear reprocessing facility at Sellafield.

The judicial review will be heard at the High Court in Manchester on a date to be set.

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