The Mayor of Copeland called environmental protestors “wasters” online after a demonstration last week.

Mike Starkie, mayor of Copeland, made the remark in response to the media coverage of a demonstration held outside council offices in Kendal on Thursday.

The activists were protesting the county council’s decision to approve the new West Cumbrian coal mine.

Mr Starkie commented on a post on the Whitehaven News Facebook page about the protest asking “why give these wasters publicity”?

In a statement issued about the remarks, Mr Starkie said: “A small group of people protesting against the West Cumbria Mine planning application are getting a disproportionate amount of publicity.

“The fact is that everyone has had their opportunity to make their representations through the rigorous planning process that lasted almost three years.

“It was approved unanimously and on review that decision was upheld. Further delays were caused by a call in to Government that lasted seven months, and yet again the decision makers came to the same conclusion – that the mine should go ahead.”

The approval is currently undergoing a judicial review due to the efforts of campaigners.

This protest was the latest action posed by environmental activists in Cumbria who want to put a stop to the mine.

In response to Mr Starkie’s remarks Maggie Mason, one of the Extinction Rebellion campaigners, said: “The XR protesters have seen every rational objection raised at every stage of this planning process being ignored. The truth is that carbon emissions need to be slashed quickly if catastrophic climate change, with even more flooding and wildfires, is to be prevented.

“Even high quality steel can be made with gas instead of coal as a reducing agent and in time low carbon hydrogen will replace both.

“There is no justification for a 50 year consent for a coking coal mine.

“Any investment in this mine is a waste of money that should be spent on sustainable, long term green industries. XR simply asks that councillors and public are told the truth.”

Councils across the county have declared a climate emergency and reiterated their position on managing the issue on a local level.

Mr Starkie added: “We all understand our responsibilities in relation to climate change and in Cumbria we are way ahead of other parts of the country/world in our measures to help tackle climate change.”

“We clearly need to take a balanced approach and the coal produced from this mine is to be used to make steel which is a vital component in developing renewable energy sources.”