Copeland mayor Mike Starkie has welcomed the decision to grant planning permission for the £165 million undersea mine off the coast of Whitehaven.

West Cumbria Mining has been granted approval by Cumbria County Council planners to create the mine, which will create around 500 jobs.

Mr Starkie, said: "I spoke in favour of the plans at Cumbria County Council planning meeting and I wholeheartedly welcome the fact that the West Cumbria Mining development has now been unanimously approved.

"I have discussed and engaged with local people on the topic of the mine on a wide number of occasions, with a consistently high level of support for the new mine plan from all of these people.

"They want jobs for their families and children, with security and opportunities. Something that we desperately need for the future of Copeland and West Cumbria.

"As a result, I am fully supportive of the mine. This is also the case with Copeland council, who have provided feedback on the planning consultation with a strong recommendation to approve the planning application for the project.

"The support from Copeland Council, who have a range of experts with extensive knowledge of the local area and sites which West Cumbria Mining is 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.

"One of the key comments which I am aware of from within the Copeland senior management team, who have seen West Cumbria Mining at work since 2014, is that they consider West Cumbria Mining to be a model developer who have raised the bar in terms of how companies should undertake public and stakeholder engagement.

"I would completely support this view from all of my interaction with the WCM team to date.

"Copeland has a very wide range of socio-economic areas, with some very poor districts next to the proposed mine location and some very high levels of child poverty and deprivation.

"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 and the loss of NuGen’s Moorside project, 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.

"The mine offers the opportunity for such diversification, including the ability to employ semi-skilled people who in the past have not been able to secure work in the nuclear industry, the potential for apprenticeships and re-training, together with the mine’s commitment to recruit as many people from the local area as possible.

"These will all have significant benefits to the local area beyond the financial aspects.

"I do not agree at all with the sensationalised views of the opposition groups who seem to be intent on trying to stop any future opportunities for the people of West Cumbria.

"Once again it seems that people from outside Copeland and West Cumbria know better than those who live within it and it would be very unjust, and highly controversial, if the committee considered those views to carry any weight in this case.

"I really cannot see how the new mine, with all of the controls, planning conditions and regulations which will be imposed upon it, as with any new development, could result in the negative impacts claimed.

"Without private development such as that being promoted by West Cumbria Mining, the future for Copeland and Cumbria, as a whole, looks very bleak.

"I have spoken to many other businesses locally, including Sellafield and they are all in support of this project and can see the long term benefits that West Cumbria Mining will bring to the area."