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West Cumbria Mining expects construction of mine to begin in September

THE company behind west Cumbria’s new coal mine has announced when construction is set to begin – and says a legal challenge filed by campaigners will not delay the project.

West Cumbria Mining has revealed a timeline of the work expected to take place over the next few years to deliver the mine into operation.

The company says a legal challenge against the Government decision lodged by Friends of the Earth and South Lakes Action Against Climate Change, will not prevent the scheme from moving forward.

A target has been set for coal production to begin by 2025. The construction period is expected to last two years and work has been forecast to start in September this year.

The mine has a 25-year production period and must cease producing coal by 2049.

West Cumbria Mining has reaffirmed its commitment to employ local people and work with local businesses and say those who previously registered for employment will be contacted this year.

Specific roles, requiring particular skills and experience, may also be advertised separately and a formal recruitment process followed.

Salaries for underground coal workers are higher than had previously been disclosed, with the expectation that employees working underground will typically earn £65,000 per annum.

Supervisory and technical roles will be significantly higher.

Community update events are expected to be held in the summer, to allow the West Cumbria Mining team to engage with the public.

Mike Starkie, mayor of Copeland, who is an ardent supporter of the mine, said: “As I have said all along, the legal action being taken is futile. It will not delay anything.

“They are just wasting their money going down this line. How many times do people need to be told they are wrong? This has gone through a very rigorous process.

“I look forward to the work commencing on the mine and the jobs coming to fruition.”

Friends of the Earth campaigner, Tony Bosworth, said: “West Cumbria Mining’s latest rose-tinted glasses spin doesn’t change anything.

“UK steelmakers want government help to move to greener production, as their competitors in mainland Europe are already doing. The market for the mine’s coal is declining before construction has even started.

“The company’s claims to be building the world’s first net zero coal mine have been described as “greenwashing nonsense” by the organisation it planned to use to offset emissions from the mine.

“And the optimistic timeline seems to ignore legal uncertainty: the planning permission can and should be struck down by the courts.

“West Cumbria has been badly let down by successive governments. It deserves more than the hopeful proposals of a company whose plans for a planet-warming mine are falling apart.

“It needs government investment to build the green economy of the future, such as a local home insulation programme to create jobs and cut energy bills by hundreds of pounds a year.”