ENVIRONMENTALISTS, some dressed as canaries, are due to protest plans for the UK’s first deep coal mine in 30 years.

The demonstrators, organised through Extinction Rebellion Cumbria, are to gather outside the county council’s Kendal offices today, where they will stage their protest.

The coal mine near Whitehaven was approved by the county council last March.

The Government has refused to call in the planning application. However, that decision is now being challenged through a judicial review.

Campaign group Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole has been granted permission to bring forward the legal challenge, which will be heard at the High Court in Manchester.

The £165m project, Woodhouse Colliery, would see up to 750m tonnes of coal extracted from the seabed off the coast at St Bees. The mine is expected to create around 500 jobs in one of England’s most deprived wards.

West Cumbria Mining’s application to dig up coal near the site of the former Haig Colliery, which shut in 1986, followed five years of research by the firm. It aims to supply the UK and European steel-making coal market.

Kendal resident, professor Rebecca Willis, an expert lead from the UK Climate Assembly, said:

“The proposed mine is clearly incompatible with the UK’s climate ambitions and the need for a clean energy future.

“Cumbria has championed its commitment to climate action.

"It now needs to accept that digging more coal out of the ground is no longer acceptable.”

Kendal’s professor Mike Berners-Lee, climate scientist and author of ‘There is No Planet B’, said:

“The planning application was based on a series of false and misleading assertions. The coal that is planned to come out of this mine over its lifetime is unnecessary and will have a carbon footprint similar to the whole of the UK’s annual emissions. It is amazing that such a flawed idea has got so far in a country that has declared a climate emergency.”

Tim Farron MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale said: “The Government’s decision to approve a new coal mine in Cumbria is a massive kick in the teeth in the fight to tackle climate change. Cumbria has so many renewable resources to provide energy - water, wind and solar - and we should most definitely not be taking the backwards step of opening a new coal mine.”

But Copeland MP Trudy Harrison, who backs the plans on the grounds the mine will create jobs in her constituency, said: “It is vital that this development goes ahead and that Woodhouse colliery has been recognised for its importance to the steel industry and to UK exports.”