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The Woodhouse Colliery is a proposed underground coking coal mine off the coast of Whitehaven, Cumbria, England. It is also known as Cumbrian Metallurgical Coal Project.
Coal production is expected to commence around 18-months from the start of construction. Coal will mainly be exported to European steel and industrial plants via the Port of of Redcar. Some will be consumed in the UK in steel plants at Scunthorpe and Port Talbot.
The £165 million mine has the first stage of its planning permission but needs a license from the Marine Management Organisation.
If this mine were to go ahead it would be the first new underground mine to start in the UK for decades.
The undated image below shows the exact location of the proposed mine.
Coal Mine Background
Since 2014 West Cumbria Mining has been developing plans to mine at Woodhouse. The onshore part of the proposal planning permission was unanimously granted (subject to 99 planning conditions) on 19th March 2019 by the Development Control Committee of Cumbria County Council. This decision was subsequently ratified again (a second unanimous vote) on 31st October 2019. Local people are challenging the decision via a Judicial Review.
In March 2019 South Lakes against Climate Change - Towards Transition and other groups, asked the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government to 'Call In' the decision and remake it himself. He refused. Subsequently the group is trying to raise funds to launch a Judicial Review into the decision. In January 2021, UK government minister Robert Jenrick, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, further announced that the planning decision should remain "at a local level wherever possible". This latest refusal by the UK government to override the local decision means that preparatory work for the mine could start later in 2021, with mining due to commence 18 months later in 2023. Campaigners say the lack of intervention directly contradicts the government’s pledge to show 'climate leadership' ahead of hosting the UN’s climate summit talks in Glasgow in November 2020, and are now assessing options for further legal action.
There is concern about the carbon emissions from the mine, impact on local wildlife and the close proximity to Sellafield nuclear power station.
Following mounting controversy about the project, in March 2021 it was reported that the UK government had U-turned and would be intervening in the planning for the mine. UK government minister Robert Jenrick now plans to hold a public inquiry over the proposed development.
- Parent Company: West Cumbria Mining
- Location: Whitehaven, West Cumbria, England.
- GPS Coordinates: 54.521755, -3.601407 (exact)
- Status: Development
- Production Capacity: 3.1 million tonnes per annum
- Total Resource:
- Mineable Reserves:
- Coal type: Coking coal
- Mine Size: 302 hectares
- Mine Type: Underground
- Start Year: 2023
- Source of Financing: £14.7m in private equity financing from EMR Capital Resources Fund 1, a mining-focused private equity fund based in Australia
Articles and resources
- West Cumbria Mining, "What is the plan?", West Cumbria Mining website, accessed 14 January 2020.
- Mariannewildart, "The Spirit of the Irish Sea Thanks You", Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole website, 8 January 2020.
- West Cumbria Mining, "Woodhouse Colliery planning application environmental statement, non-technical summary", page 3, Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole website, accessed 14 January 2020.
- Sophie Yeo, "Whitehaven: The West Cumbrian Ex-Mining Community Where Coal is Making a Comeback", Desmog website, 24 April 2019.
- Sophie Yeo, "Government Accused of Failing to Show Climate Leadership After Refusing to Block New Coal Mine", Desmog, Jan. 7, 2021.
- Daisy Dunne, "Government intervenes in plan for Cumbria coal mine after climate backlash", The Independent, Mar. 11, 2021.
- Mining Technology, "Woodhouse Colliery, West Cumbria", Mining Technology website, accessed 14 January 2020.