PLANS to build a coal mine in Cumbria have caught the attention of one of the world's leading climate change experts.

In a letter to Brois Johnson, ex-NASA scientist James Hansen said that failure to stop the mine from going ahead at Whitehaven would be in "contemptuous disregard" for the future of young people and nature.

The new facility, which will be used to extract coking coal for steel production, has been granted planning permission by Cumbria County Council.

The Government said in January that it would not call in the plans for an inquiry.

Readers of the News and Star reacted strongly to the story - many were angered by the intervention.

Dianne Thompson wrote: "Suddenly the Southerners have found a place called Whitehaven.

"A lovely but neglected part of England that needs an employment boost and a reason to be proud.

"There will be plenty of willing people who would be proud to work hard and put West Cumbria on the map!"

Sam Woolley added: "How else are we going to produce steel to build new infrastructure in the UK?

"What's the alternative to digging Coking Coal from our own shores?

"Oh that's right, shipping it in from around the world instead or are we going to build a hydrogen powered smelting plant?"

But some were also concerned.

Jocelyn Pye said: "All these people lapping up the coal mining company's argument that building a new coal mine will benefit the environment due to reduced transport of coal - when that same company says on its own website that it will be exporting the coal to Europe 'and beyond'.

"Or is it only British imports that count towards transport emissions, not exports?"

Daid Eyley added: "Understand the jobs it'll bring, but should we really be opening a coal mine in these times? Doesn't seem right to me."