Copeland mayor Mike Starkie has been praised for his aggressive stance in support of the new mine for West Cumbria.

An earlier unanimous decision to grant permission for the £165 million mine, off the coast, has been ratified by the county council following a legal challenge from environmental campaigners, while a call-in request from former Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has also been thrown out by the Government.

West Cumbria Mining’s plans extract coking coal off the coast of St Bees, with a processing plant on the former Marchon site at Kells, are set to create 500 jobs for the region.

Speaking at a meeting of the executive this week, Steven Morgan said that Mr Starkie’s staunch support of the mine had made a difference in the face of the scheme’s detractors.

He said: “I would like to commend you personally for what you have done; for your aggressive stance. It has become an unpopular decision by certain politicians in other jurisdictions to intrude into what is important for Copeland.

“I think that we would have had much more difficulty had it not been for what you were able to do.”

But Mr Starkie, who previously told Mr Farron to “butt out” of Copeland and concentrate on his own South Lakes constituency, stressed that the whole council had backed the mine.

He said: “This council has been unanimous in supporting the mine, officers and members, right across the board.

“West Cumbria mining, in particular, are really appreciative of the support they have received from this entire council from day one.

“It is good really good news for everyone that we have got the right decision in the end, though it took a bit longer than we had hoped.

“It looks like it’s all systems go, and that we have cleared the final hurdle. This is absolutely right decision, both from a climate perspective and, particularly here in Copeland from, an economic perspective.”