A SOUTH Cumbria MP has said that approval of a new deep mine near Whitehaven would be a 'catastrophic' development in the fight against climate breakdown.

On the eve of a key planning meeting that will see county councillors decide whether or not to approve plans for the UK’s first new deep coal mine in more than 30 years, South Lakes MP Tim Farron issued the stark warning.

A decision is expected to be handed down by commissioners this morning.

Mr Farron has vowed to lobby Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick to call in the decision for a rethink, should the county council give the green light to the mine for a second time today.

The Westmorland and Lonsdale MP said yesterday: “There are far better ways of creating jobs than this – especially when improvements in technology and a likely decline in demand for coal won’t guarantee the full 500 jobs for the full 50 years.

“In Cumbria, we are England’s windiest and wettest county with the fastest moving rivers in the country – our natural resources and the strength of our nuclear industry could create many times more renewable energy jobs than this mine ever could.

“If we are to be able to look our children and grandchildren in the eye and say that we did everything in our power to avert catastrophic climate change then we need to resolve to do the one thing that is most likely to achieve that – and that is to vote to keep Cumbria’s fossil fuels safely in the ground.

"There is no doubt in my mind that these plans for a coal mine in Cumbria are a catastrophic failure in our collective efforts to tackle the climate emergency."

Barrow MP Simon Fell, on the other hand, voiced tentative support for the project earlier this summer.

Trudy Harrison in neighbouring Copeland, in whose constituency the mine would fall, is a vocal supporter of the scheme.

The Woodhouse Colliery plans were first approved in 2019. At the time, Mr Farron wrote to the then-Communities Secretary James Brokenshire, urging him to call-in the planning decision.

Combined with a judicial review case, objections and sustained minor protests, the scheme has been kicked into the long grass while other major coal mine applications - such as an opencast bid at Druridge Bay in Northumberland - have been rejected.