Since 2014, West Cumbria Mining has been developing plans for the creation of an underground metallurgical coal mine, off the coast near Whitehaven in West Cumbria to supply the UK and European steel-making industry, which, in 2019, imported 52 million tonnes of seaborne metallurgical coal from the United States of America, Australia, Russia and Columbia.
Cumbria is an area rich in mining history and experience; as the plans for our project have developed, we have looked to harness this knowledge in a modern mine which will have the benefits of first-class levels of health and safety as well as a much cleaner and more pleasant environment than the previous mines of Cumbria’s history.
Throughout the development of our plans, we have undertaken an extensive programme of coal exploration, both onshore and offshore, and this work has proven the presence of high-quality steel-making coal with very attractive properties (including extremely low ash and phosphorus).
The result of this exploration work has allowed us to finalise key aspects of the project such as the design of the mine, method of extraction and processing of the coal itself.
Formal planning approval for the development of the Cumbrian Metallurgical Coal Project – to be known as Woodhouse Colliery, was unanimously granted (subject to 99 planning conditions) on 19th March 2019 by the Development Control Committee of Cumbria County Council at a meeting in Kendal. This decision was subsequently ratified again (a second unanimous vote) on 31st October 2019.
The planning was returned to the Development Control Committee for a third approval on 2nd October 2020. On 9th February 2021, Cumbria County Council Executives made the decision to return the application back to committee for a fourth time based on the publication of the Climate Change Committee 6th Carbon Budget report issued in December 2020.
On 11th March 2021, the UK Government called-in the application for a Planning Inquiry, taking the matter out of the hands of the Council. The inquiry, held virtually, commenced on the 7th September 2021 and lasted for four weeks.
In April 2022, the Planning Inspectorate confirmed that the planning report had been submitted to the Secretary of State, Michael Gove MP, for final determination on or before 7th July 2022.