A CUMBRIAN MP has described opponents of a new deep coal mine in West Cumbria as being in “cloud cuckoo land.”

Trudy Harrison, who represents Copeland, was disappointed at Cumbria County Council’s decision to reconsider the proposals for the new mine near Whitehaven.

It followed sustained pressure from a number of environmental groups who were concerned about the impact a new coal mine would have on the UK’s carbon footprint and its standing as a global leader on the issue.

But Mrs Harrison said she remained firmly behind the plans.

She said: “During 2019, the UK imported more than 2.1 million tonnes of coking coal, predominantly for steel making.“That is forecast to continue as the need for steel increases. We need steel for just about all manufacturing — anyone saying we don’t is in cloud cuckoo land. 

“The question is really whether we are happy to continue to import foreign coking coal and foreign steel — that’s our only alternative. 

“I stand firm on the need for Whitehaven Coal Mine as we transition from fossil fuels to clean energy. Every part of the green industrial revolution needs steel.”

On Tuesday, Cumbria County Council announced it will reconsider the plans in light of “new information”.

The move has been welcomed by campaigners who were concerned about the potential environmental impact of the mine.

Among them is former Labour leader Ed Miliband, now shadow business secretary.

Mr Miliband said: “We welcome the council’s decision to take this application back to the planning committee. The Government now has a second chance to do the right thing and call it in. 

“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. Indeed, 85% of the mine’s production is due for export.

“People in Cumbria deserve good, secure jobs and there are so many crying out to be done in the green industries of the future. 

“That’s why Labour has called for a £30bn green recovery plan to protect and create jobs in communities across the country.”

Campaign group Friends of the Earth also praised the council’s decision.

Climate campaigner Tony Bosworth said: “Cumbria County Council is right to review its decision – allowing this climate-wrecking coal mine to go-ahead would completely undermine UK leadership ahead of this year’s vital climate summit.

“Quite simply there is no place for new coal extraction in the middle of a climate emergency. 

“It’s time to leave coal in the ground and focus on fast-tracking a green industrial revolution. This will bring the new jobs and business opportunities that are needed in communities everywhere, including Cumbria.”