Whitehaven coal mine firm seeks judicial review of council U-turn

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image copyrightWest Cumbria Mining Company
image captionCumbria County Council decided to rethink its approval of the mine near Whitehaven

A company planning to build a coal mine in Cumbria is taking legal action over the county council's decision to reconsider its approval of the scheme.

The authority granted West Cumbria Mining (WCM) planning permission in October but the plans had not been formalised.

WCM said the decision to reconsider approval "cannot be justified" and it is seeking a judicial review.

Cumbria County Council has been approached for comment.

The firm's CEO Mark Kirkbride said it was "extremely regrettable that WCM has been placed in this position after committing so much time, resource and private funding".

"The latest actions of the council have created a very real risk that the project will never be delivered, which would be devastating for West Cumbria, as well as the Northern Powerhouse and Industrial Strategy initiatives."

The company said the decision to rethink "at the eleventh hour and after comprehensive, extensive and prolonged consultation and consideration, cannot be justified and is based on a misunderstanding of the relevant law and facts".

WCM has applied to the High Court for a judicial review of the council's decision.

image copyrightPA Media
image captionIt is claimed the mine could provide work for about 500 people in the Whitehaven area

They said it would increase global emissions, compromise the UK’s legally binding carbon budgets and could undermine its leadership of the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow in November.

Supporters of the mine say it will bring hundreds of jobs to the area and save on imports of coking coal for the UK's steel industry.

However, the government's Climate Change Committee said 85% of the Cumbrian coal would be exported.

Opponents, including Greenpeace and environmental campaigner Greta Thunberg, say the site will cause significant environmental damage.

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