Mining bosses behind a £165m plan to extract coking coal off the west Cumbrian coast have met with residents to reveal their plans.

West Cumbria Mining's (WCM) update event quashed rumours on social media that Cumbria County Council had rejected the company's scheme, which would create 500-plus jobs.

Interested residents, from across Cumbria, flocked to the company's Haig office, Kells, Whitehaven, yesterday to find out more.

WCM say the Woodhouse Colliery would have a planned operational lifespan of 50 years and extract up to 3.1 million tonnes of coal per year.

It would extract coking coal off the coast of St Bees, with a processing plant on the former Marchon site at Kells, before exporting to Redcar, on the east coast, and shipping it to the EU and beyond.

Helen Davies, head of communications at WCM, said: "It's been really, really busy. We had 42 people in the first 20 minutes. We've had massive support, our feedback has been 99 percent positive.

"The focus is back on us now after what's happened with (nuclear project) Moorside, people are keen for us get started.

"It's a lot of jobs, and that's just direct, there's also the supply chain."

Consultation on the plans is open until January 28. Visitors were pleased with the scheme, welcoming a potential jobs boost in the area.

Ex-miner Lawrence Wren, from Parton, who worked at Haig Colliery, said: "It looks well organised. Now Moorside has collapsed there needs to be something. Sellafield will say about decommissioning but we need jobs. We've got no pits, no steelworks and Marchon is shut.

"All the ex-miners who are still able to work are buzzing."

And Dave Elsworth, from Broughton Moor, said: "The sooner the better, 500 jobs, and apprentices, is just what West Cumbria needs."

Ann Taylor, from Whitehaven, said: "It's very informative, there's a lot more information than previously.

"It's looking very positive and obviously for the job situation in the local area, it's very, very positive."

Copeland mayor Mike Starkie also went to view the plans.

He said: "I've said from day one it's a fantastic project, which will do what it says on the tin. There's no will it or won't it, this is a project which will have a positive impact on Whitehaven and west Cumbria.

"It will bring much-needed employment and prosperity, state of the technology and opportunities for apprentices.

"WCM have been a pleasure to engage with."