Copeland mayor Mike Starkie has urged MP Tim Farron to “butt out” of West Cumbria as the rift deepens over plans for a controversial £165 undersea mine.

Mr Starkie made the comments after the Westmorland and Lonsdale MP asked that the project is called in, branding the decision to give it the green light backwards.

The move to approve the plans also sparked a backlash from environmental campaigners including a 1,500-signature Whitehall petition due to be presented today.

But Mr Starkie has hit back with a petition of his own and is seeking the  backing from the other Cumbrian MPs amid claims that the mine enjoys widespread community support.

He has also pledged to write to James Brokenshire, the secretary of state for housing, communities and local government, to express support for the mine.

He said: “I call on the people to sign to show that they support they support West Cumbria Mining project and the planning panel’s decision to give it the go ahead.

“Calling on people from all over West Cumbria to sign in support of West Cumbria Mining project will send out a clear message from the people who are most directly impacted by the development of the old Marchon site.

“A petition that has been launched against the mine and there has also been a request from MP Tim Farron to call the decision in.

“Tim Farron should concentrate on his own business and constituency, and butt out of West Cumbria. The people of West Cumbria, in a very large majority, are very much behind this mine.

“In West Cumbria we are fed up with people from outside the area telling us what is best for us.

"The mine project is potentially transformational and will significantly improve lives and prospects of the community in West Cumbria.”

Mr Farron wrote to Mr Brokenshire after West Cumbria Mining was given permission to extract coking coal off the coast of St Bees, with a processing plant on the former Marchon site at Kells.

Marion Birkby, speaking on behalf of Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole, said: “We were also very shocked when Mike Starkie said campaigners from outside of West Cumbria should be ignored. Many are people who live near the development are against it, but not everybody has the platform that he has.

“It feels like this area is just recovering from all the heavy industry that was there previously.”

Ms Birkby, who is also the founder of Radiation Free Lakeland, had concerns not over climate change and the proximity of the mine to Sellafield.