An MP has hit out at Cumbria County Council after it withdrew support for a new coal mine in West Cumbria.

Proposals for the mine in Whitehaven will now be decided by the planning inspectorate at a hearing in September.

The county council released a "statement of case" on May 5 in relation to the mine which revealed it will be taking a neutral stance.

Copeland MP Trudy Harrison, a supporter of the mine, said the council's decision "beggars belief".

She said: "The qualified and highly experienced CCC planning officer has recommended Woodhouse Colliery for approval three times. The democratically elected planning committee has also approved the development, by a majority, three times.

"I hope that the people across Cumbria who value democracy can see through this for what it is - a dictatorial political decision at the very top which goes against all previous decisions.

"I will be speaking at the inquiry in accordance with the majority view of residents in Copeland, in strong favour of Woodhouse Colliery. Based on the industrial need and mineral availability."

A spokesman for the county council said: "The council received a letter from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government on March 11, informing us that the Secretary of State has decided to “call-in” the planning application submitted by West Cumbria Mining Ltd and to hold a public inquiry.

"Consequently the application will now be determined by the Secretary of State.

“Cumbria County Council has submitted a statement of case on May 5, in line with the requirements of the public inquiry and is committed to supporting the planning inspector to determine the application.”

The council had previously approved the plans three times, the last in October. However, it decided to reconsider the application earlier this year after a change in government policy, amid stiff opposition from campaigners.

Campaign group Friends of the Earth has welcomed the news and said the case for the mine is now at its "weakest."

Estelle Worthington, North West campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: “Once again, we see support for this controversial coal mine continue to fall by the wayside.

“This only strengthens our position that it should never have been in the pipeline in the first place. We can fight both the climate crisis and unemployment by directing support to industries such as renewable energy.

“Now, as the time for public comments draws to a close, the case for dirty coal is at its weakest, both locally and nationally.

"Let’s put an to end this climate hypocrisy once and for all and leave Cumbrian coal in the ground.”