Four of Cumbria’s MPs are urging the Government to press ahead with £165m undersea mine.

Copeland MP Trudy Harrison, Carlisle MP John Stevenson, MP for Penrith and Border Rory Stewart and Barrow MP John Woodcock have reiterated their strong support for the scheme in a joint letter to James Brokenshire, secretary of state for housing, communities and local government.

The move comes after Tim Farron, MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale, wrote to Mr Brokenshire asking to call in the county council planning decision to support the mine, branding  it backwards.

Meanwhile, Copeland mayor Mike Starkie has set up a petition in support of the mine as environmental campaigners present a 1,500-signature Whitehall petition against the mine.

The letter from the MPs said: “The proposed development is near Whitehaven in the Copeland constituency of Trudy Harrison. It is 50 miles from Tim Farron’s constituency.

“The secretary of state for international trade, Dr Liam Fox, also wrote to the council in support of the application given its strong future export role.

“We strongly believe there are no grounds whatsoever for this decision to be called in.

“Cumbria County Council have said they cannot issue a formal decision notice until you have made your decision. This will obviously further delay this important and well-supported project.”

The reasons given for supporting the mine include:

  • The planning panel’s decision to approve the plans was unanimous
  • The scheme was recommended for approval by planning officers.
  • The mine has “strong support” from the majority of the county’s MPs including constituency MP, secretary of state for international trade, Northern Powerhouse and BEIS ministers
  • The development will be on a brownfield site, a former chemical works
  • Large new job creation and creation of supply chain to serve a minimum 43-year project
  • Support from the directly elected Mayor of Copeland, Copeland Council and Whitehaven Town Council
  • Strong support from the local communities close to the site, though this is disputed by environmental campaigners.
  • The mine will make use of the Cumbrian Coastal Railway for all coal movements, supporting investment in the local rail network

Mr Starkie has written to Mr Brokenshire to express his support for the mine plans.

Marion Birkby, speaking on behalf of Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole, has previously likened the argument that the mine will brings much-needed jobs to Copeland to “dangling a putrid carrot” in front of the people of West Cumbria.

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