Woodhouse Colliery plans approved

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Plans for the proposed Woodhouse Colliery in Whitehaven have been approved, with 12 on the Cumbria County Council committee in favour, three against, two abstaining and one not voting.

Earlier today, Tim Farron MP had said: "There is no doubt in my mind that these plans for a coal mine in Cumbria are a catastrophic failure in our collective efforts to tackle the climate emergency." 

West Cumbria Mining say that the coal will be processed in a plant which is a ‘building within a building’ to further minimise noise, dust and light impacts to the community. The preparation plant will include covered storage of coal from the mine as well as coal product after washing.

The aim is for Woodhouse Colliery to lead the UK coal industry into the mid-21st Century, utilising modern, well proven mining methods to achieve a steady-state production of 3.1 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) Run-of-Mine.

Run-out and Pocket extraction will be the chosen mining method as this is a proven, highly versatile coal mining method that takes advantage of advancements in mining technology to mitigate risks associated with the Cumbrian Coal fields.

It is understood that the Communities Secretary, Robert Jenrick, is considering whether or not to call in the decision.

Mike Starkie, Mayor of Copeland Borough Council said: "I wholeheartedly welcome Cumbria County Council’s decision today to award planning permission for West Cumbria Mining’s project in Whitehaven.

"I once again spoke in favour of the plans at today’s meeting as this is a significant employment and new skills opportunity for Copeland and West Cumbria at this extremely challenging and difficult time, and will supply the domestic and European steel industry with high quality metallurgical coal. The is an important new export-led industrial project.

"As well as enjoying my strong support over a long period, the project has the support of the five Conservative MPs in Cumbria and many councillors. It has also enjoyed the support of various Government departments, ranging from the Department for International Trade, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Ministry for the Northern Powerhouse. 

"The project will deliver a vital economic boost at local and regional levels and utilise a valuable local industrial resource which enjoys strong demand in the national and European steel industry. 

"As Mayor, I have consistently supported the project and have written to the Prime Minister and others detailing my support over a prolonged period. The support from Copeland Council, who have a range of experts with extensive knowledge of the local area and sites which West Cumbria Mining are seeking to develop, clearly suggests that they believe that the mine would not have negative impacts and fits within the development plans of the area. 

"Other local businesses, from small independent shops to larger employers such as Sellafield Ltd, are also in support of this project and can see the long term benefits that West Cumbria Mining would bring to the wider supply chain. 

"West Cumbria Mining continues to act professionally, despite some who would try and stop development of any sort happening in Cumbria, regardless of the benefits. West Cumbria Mining continues to openly engage with stakeholders and are always willing to support local initiatives where possible. 

"Copeland has a very wide range of socio-economic areas, some with very high levels of child poverty and deprivation. These areas, like many in the country, have been hit hard by the impacts of COVID. 

"The area has been almost completely reliant on the nuclear industry for decades, but with the current changes which Sellafield are implementing in terms of a significant reduction in jobs, the need for diversification to other industries is apparent. 

"As such, it is imperative for the survival and economic prosperity of Copeland, Allerdale and Barrow that diversification is supported in terms of new projects, long term job creation and wealth coming back into the local economy."

Mark Kirkbride, CEO of West Cumbria Mining said: “Today marks another very important milestone in our journey to develop a world class mine in Cumbria and is the culmination of six years of dedication and determination by the WCM team to realise our vision.

“Woodhouse Colliery will bring significant local benefits to Whitehaven, Copeland and Cumbria in terms of jobs and investment, at a critical time given the impacts of Covid-19 upon employment and economics both locally and nationally. I am proud to be part of a scheme which will have such a positive impact on the local community as well as the long-term financial benefits the mine will bring to Cumbria and the UK. 

“We remain confident that the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, The Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP, will also be able to quickly conclude, as he did so previously, that nothing has changed such that the holding direction can be removed and the final planning permit be issued.

“I am now looking forward to moving positively towards the construction of Woodhouse Colliery and harnessing the extensive mining history and knowledge in West Cumbria to operate a state-of-the-art mine, including the highest levels of health and safety and technology to ultimately realise our vision of becoming a leading European producer of high-quality metallurgical coal for steel making”

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Cleator Moor | Cumbria: Little Ireland: Woodhouse Colliery plans approved
Woodhouse Colliery plans approved
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Cleator Moor | Cumbria: Little Ireland
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