Plans for a new coal mine proposed for Whitehaven are set to go on public display.
West Cumbria Mining, the firm hoping to create more than 500 coalmining jobs, will reveal its latest plans for the mine site and an associated rail facility at its headquarters at the former Haig Museum today and tomorrow.
There is also an opportunity at the drop-in days (10am to 4pm) for people to pre-register for jobs, of which WCM has pledged that at least 80 per cent will go to the local workforce.
Various aspects of the design have been modified following feedback received in previous drop-in events, says WCM, and further comments are invited ahead of a planning application being submitted to Cumbria County Council in January 2017. Pending the planning go-ahead and other approvals, the operation would begin in 2019.
“Attendance levels at our previous events has been really good,” said Helen Davies, WCM’s communications manager. “We’ve have had nearly 400 feedback forms, with 91 per cent being ‘pleased’ or ‘ok’ about the plans for the mine.
“We urge everyone to take this opportunity to review our plans before they are submitted.”
The site is adjacent to Haig Colliery, from which coking coal was extracted between 1914 and 1986, with mining activities beneath the seabed over four miles offshore.
WCM is hoping to re-start the extraction of coking coal off the coast of St Bees, with a processing plant on the former Marchon site at Kells.
The new coal – totalling more than two million tonnes a year – would be extracted from under the sea and transported to the surface using an underground conveyor belt.
It would then be treated at a processing plant using around a third of the former Marchon site and covered by a dome, before being transferred to a train loading facility on a siding built by WCM south of the new Mirehouse train station proposed by NuGen, the firm behind the proposed new nuclear power station at Moorside near Sellafield.
WCM anticipates creating 510 jobs, including 50 apprenticeships, and workers would be employed in three shifts.
WCM’s project manager Kevin Murphy has pledged that 80 per cent of the jobs during construction and operation would go to local people, adding: “That’s the minimum and we’d like that figure to be higher.”
Mr Murphy also said that talks are ongoing with Lakes College, Lillyhall, that would see a coalmining module added to the end of a number of existing courses it offers.