AN environmental group has staged a protest at the proposed site of the new west Cumbrian coal mine.

Coal Action Network staged the demonstration on Saturday, June 8. 

Parliamentary candidates for the Whitehaven and Workington constituencies were invited to attend to declare their intentions about the mine to those in attendance. 

Liberal Democrat candidate Chris Wills was in attendance, and he voiced strong opposition to the plans for the mine. 

He said: "I'm here to support the protest against this ludicrous proposition for a coking coal mine.

"I've been against the idea of a mine here since day one and I think what people are experiencing here is a fraud, frankly.

Demonstrators spell out 'STOP' Demonstrators spell out 'STOP' (Image: Coal Action Network)

"There's no economic case for it, it's not going to employ lots of people in skilled jobs, and it's exporting our pollution to other parts of the world."

The proposed mine is being delayed, at present, by two legal cases that will be heard in the High Court in July. If the court rules against the approval given by Michael Gove in 2022, the next Government will be required to decide whether to approve the mine or not. 
If the court allows the current decision to stand, the next Government could use powers under Section 100 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 to revoke the mine’s planning permission, the protesters claimed.

Liberal Democrat candidate Chris Wills (Left) and Anthony Collins of Coal Action Network Liberal Democrat candidate Chris Wills (Left) and Anthony Collins of Coal Action Network (Image: Newsquest)

Anne Harris, a campaigner at Coal Action Network, said: "We're here today to show politicians of all colours that an important question of this election is 'Who will stop the coal mine?'"

Labour and Conservative candidates were not in attendance at the protest, however, Coal Action Network said that Labour had contacted them to apologise and say they would not be attending.

Labour candidate Josh MacAlister has described the mine as a 'risky bet' and said it won't solve Whitehaven's problems. The Conservative candidate Andrew Johnson, meanwhile, has put the development of the mine among his key priorities.

Resident Alan Todd, of Keswick, said: "The mine shouldn't go ahead, we've had three once-in-a-lifetime floods recently and the thing that you can guarantee with this mine is that it'll increase the risk for the people of Cumbria."

The former mayor of Copeland Mike Starkie, who helped to progress plans for the mine, said: "These protests are being held by people who have no respect for the process. 

Demonstrators create a '?' asking who will stop the mineDemonstrators create a '?' asking who will stop the mine (Image: Coal Action Network)

"The West Cumbrian Mine has been through the most rigorous process, through planning and government and on every occasion has been recommended approval.

"These people are just trying to hold back progress, prevent jobs, and keep prosperity out of West Cumbria."