A key decision on plans for a £165million deep coal mine to be created in West Cumbria has been delayed.

West Cumbria Mining (WCM) is behind plans to extract coking coal off the coast of St Bees, with a processing plant on the former Marchon site at Kells.

A decision on the plans was due to be made next week by Cumbria County Council's development control committee.

However the amount of comments generated by the project, meant the authority decided to delay discussions.

A spokesman for the county council said: "To ensure consideration of the high number of representations received with this application, the application will now be taken to the council's development control and regulation committee for a decision at their August meeting.

"This is currently scheduled for August 20."

The decision was originally scheduled for July 8.

The plans were submitted in May 2017, but now the firm is proposing a change in the way it plans to process the material, meaning only premium metallurgical coal will be processed. Changes to its application mean the plant would now only produce premium metallurgical coal. There will no longer be a middlings coal by-product.

WCM said the by-product middlings was a lower value material than would have been generated by the original design of the processing plant.

Despite a consultation by the county council closing on June 15, some responses were submitted very close to the deadline or after the date had passed.

One of the responses from United Utilities queries whether the changes put forward by WCM would have any impact on water usage, or changes to wastewater discharge.

Among those opposing the development are The World Wide Fund for Nature, which has asked the secretary of state to call in the decision, Cumbria Wildlife Trust and campaign group Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole.

However many have also spoken in support of the plans.

Copeland's Mayor Mike Starkie has been one the most staunch supporters of WCM plans.

St Bees Parish Council is also among the authorities backing the plans: "The project will bring very significant economic benefit locally by providing both skilled and unskilled employment directly and in supporting businesses."