Sir David Attenborough has expressed his “deep dismay” over the plans to open a new coal mine in west Cumbria.

Talking exclusively to the News & Star, the environmental protester said that while he does not know the specifics of this proposal, he is against the use of coal and any new mine.

The 93-year-old has become the face of climate change campaigning in the UK following a series of documentaries and talks covering the global issue.

Sir David said: “I think I am against it because I am against opening coal [mines] but it is a complicated thing.

“I don’t know enough about the details and I don’t know how essential it is to maintain supplies but I am against the use of coal.”

Sir David was approached by campaigners in west Cumbria who sought support from him as he is a vocal supporter of protecting the environment - which he responded to with a hand-written letter.

In the letter, he shared with Melanie Greggain, the leader of the Stop the West Cumbrian Coal Mine, of his “deep dismay at hearing of West Cumbria Mining’s plan to open a new coal mine at Whitehaven.

He went on to tell her that he will “certainly speak against such proposals if I get the chance”.

Melanie said: “He is at the forefront of everything in the world in regards to protecting wildlife, protecting the climate, and he is such a huge figure.

“Everybody listens to him.”

She contacted him as she believes the campaign against the coal mine needs “his help and his voice.”

Melanie led a protest across the west Cumbrian coast to the Copeland Council building in July in protest over the mine.

“From here I want to see if we can get Sir David Attenborough to address this nationally,” Melanie commented.

The Attenborough effect has seen a shift in public opinion surrounding single-use plastics such as straws and plastic packaging.

A report found that after a spate of Attenborough documentaries highlighted the impact plastics have on the environment more than 50 per cent of people reconsidered their shopping habits.

The mine sparked controversy back in March when county councillors voted unanimously in favour of the plan, despite opposition.

It will be the first deep coal mine to be built in the UK in 30 years.

“Creating a new coal mine is going to be really catastrophic and hazardous to the wildlife around it and to the actual climate itself,” she said.

“Global warming needs to be at the forefront of all of our minds in everything that we do.”

Members of Extinction Rebellion in Cumbria have celebrated Sir David Attenborough’s backing of the opposition to the west Cumbrian coal mine.

Maggie Mason, a member of the activist group, said: “I am delighted that David Attenborough is saying something about it.

“People do need to really rise up on this.”

In July, Extinction Rebellion led a protest outside the Cumbria County Council offices in Carlisle to encourage the council to rethink their approval of the mine.

Many environmental activists argue that it will set the county back on climate action at a time when it should be moving forward.

“I am horrified by how little people know about how bad this mine would be,” added Maggie.

“How on Earth can they pretend that this is in any way compatible with net-zero by 2050.

“We’re doing our best to spread the news and explain to people how bad it is.”

Both Cumbria County Council and West Cumbria Mining were approached for comment but they had not responded at the time of going to print.