Senior politicians in west Cumbria have described their "dismay" at the news that Cumbria County Council is set to reconsider planning permission for a new coal mine in Whitehaven.

Mike Starkie, Conservative mayor for Copeland, and Trudy Harrison, Copeland's Conservative Member of Parliament, have said this afternoon that they are "dismayed" by the decision taken today by Cumbria County Council to revisit the application from West Cumbria Mining for permission to build a new coking coal mine in Whitehaven.

The county council explained today that the decision has been taken following the "consideration of new information" in relation to the UK Government Climate Change Committee's latest climate recommendations, made in December 2020 following the granting of planning permission for the mine by the county council's development control and regulation committee.

In a joint statement released following today's news, Mr Starkie and Mrs Harrison, both long-term proponents of the mine, said that they "implore" the county council to stand by the decision made late last year to grant the mine planning permission.

"We are dismayed by Cumbria County Council’s decision to reconsider the West Cumbria Mining application for Whitehaven," their joint statement read.

"The decision has been made time and again, based on the forensic details the planning committee had in front of them, and the decision has repeatedly been to approve this important development.

"The Government has now twice declined to call-in the decision, stating rightly that this is a decision best made locally.

"We have championed – and lobbied – for this development and will continue to do so more strongly than ever."

Reaction to the news that Cumbria County Council will reconsider the application has been positive from climate campaigners both locally and nationally, and comes after weeks of criticism levelled at the Government for deciding not to intervene in the mine's construction.

Ed Miliband MP, Labour’s Shadow Business Secretary has been one of a number of recent high profile critics of the proposed west Cumbrian mine.

Mr Miliband said today that the Labour Party nationally welcomed the county council's decision to reconsider the application for the mine.

"The Government now has a second chance to do the right thing and call it in," he said.

"The UK cannot claim to be a climate leader whilst opening a new coal mine and Ministers must realise that by doing so they undermine our credibility both at home and abroad.

“A new mine is neither the answer for climate change nor the answer for our steel industry."

But Mr Starkie and Mrs Harrison argued that the proposed west Cumbrian mine, Woodhouse Colliery, would "reduce the carbon footprint significantly" of the UK's steel output.

"In terms of green energy, all green technology needs steel, and the metallurgical coal to be extracted by West Cumbria Mining is coking coal that will be used for steel," their statement read.

"It will reduce the carbon footprint significantly to be mined here, in a modern and environmentally-efficient mine, than being mined elsewhere and shipped here from the USA, Australia, Russia and around the world.

"The project fully accords with the UK’s green industrial commitments and includes legal conditions that production will not go beyond 2049 and the highest levels of greenhouse gas emission mitigation.

"It is also incredibly significant that the project will bring £160 million of private investment and 500 jobs into our community to help drive our post-Covid economy.

"We need this development, and we once again implore Cumbria County Council to stand by their decision."

A spokesperson for Cumbria County Council explained today that plans for the mine will be reviewed, "after the and consideration of new information".

"Cumbria County Council’s Development Control and Regulation (DC&R) Committee will now reconsider the planning application by West Cumbria Mining to create a metallurgical coal mine off the coast near Whitehaven.

“This decision has been taken because in December 2020, the Government’s Climate Change Committee released its report on its recommendations for the Sixth Carbon Budget, a requirement under the Climate Change Act.

"The report, among other things, sets out the volume of greenhouse gases the UK aims to emit during 2033-2037. This new information has been received prior to the issue of the formal decision notice on the application.

"In light of this the Council has decided that the planning application should be reconsidered by DC&R.”