An MP has hit back at opposition critics over his involvement in a group lobbying against the coal mine, despite being one of its most ardent supporters.

Labour councillor Mike Hawkins has quizzed Workington MP Mark Jenkinson on why he is part of the Conservative Environment Network despite being a supporter of the Woodhouse Colliery coal mine. He has cited an article from the group’s member Sam Hall which criticises the mine for it’s impact on the environment.

Councillor Hawkins said “This absolutely unbelievable even by the standards of the local Tories - they claim to local people that they are standing up for West Cumbria, whilst being active members of the very group of Tory politicians at Westminster who are trying to block the Mine. No wonder people are sick to their back teeth at all the mud slinging from Mark Jenkinson and Mike Starkie, when it turns out Mr Jenkinson is at the heart of the Tory campaign against the mine.”

Councillor Mike Hawkins said: “The fact that he actively brags about his role with the Tory campaign group on his own website shows the sheer arrogance of his behaviour. There are only two plausible explanations for Mr Jenkinson’s actions; either he didn’t think anyone in West Cumbria would find out about his role with CEN, or he didn’t care if they did.”

The Conservative Environment Network’s Parliamentary Caucus “drives the green conservative agenda” in Westminster. The champion the campaign to bring the UK to net zero.

Mr Jenkinson has fervently defended the coking coal mine planned for the west Cumbrian coast from recent backlash, leading the Labour Party to share a line from Mr Hall’s article that says: “To have any climate credibility, Britain must cancel its new coal mine.”

Mr Jenkinson told Newsquest Cumbria in response: “CEN does not take corporate policy positions.”

He added that Mr Hall’s views on the mine do not represent the group as whole.

“They’re looking for an angle to deflect from their own political posturing.

Mr Jenkinson said: “Sam has written an article, we’ve had discussions on it, it doesn’t stand up to public scrutiny but that’s a different matter. He doesn’t represent the position of CEN who haven’t formed one.

“Does Ed Miliband speak for the Labour Party?”

In Mr Jenkinson’s opinion, the mine plan from West Cumbria Mining, which was initially approved by Cumbria County Council but is now being reconsidered, is a positive one.

“The environmental impact is positive. The net emissions impact is positive, it (the mine project) reduces our shipping emissions significantly.”

The coal mine, which is being considered for the Whitehaven coast, has become a contentious issue. Mr Jenkinson has called the criticism from Labour, Which has included the party’s former leader Ed Miliband: “a lot of sensationalism.

“This is why this is a local decision for locally democratically elected councillors.”