SH July 20 Newsletter final - Page 14

The progress of the West Cumbria Mining (WCM) proposal is perhaps illustrative of the frustration, delay and
costs of navigating a major development proposal through the choppy seas and waters of the UK planning
The proposal in this case is a new underground coal mine at Whitehaven. The proposal is to extract around
2.8 million tonnes of coal each year. The coal from the mine which following processing on site would be used
for steel making and not power generation. The original application envisaged that up to 15% of the coal
produced would not be suitable for steel making which was termed ‘middlings’ coal.
Stephenson Halliday provided the planning input assisting WCM to prepare an application for planning
permission and accompanying Environmental Statement and Planning Statement. The application for
planning permission was submitted to Cumbria County Council (CCC) on 31st May 2017.
Post submission, additional information was provided to the Council and the proposal was amended which
required an addition period of consultation. On 19th March 2019 the Development Control and Regulation
Committee (DCR) of Cumbria County Council unanimously resolved to approve the planning application.
However, a decision could not be issued immediately as a legal agreement was required.
On 21st June 2019 CCC received a letter from Leigh Day solicitors which alleged flaws in the council’s
committee report which it suggested could form the basis of a legal challenge. Then on 1st July the Secretary
of State issued a holding direction that CCC could not issue a permission until a decision had been taken as to
whether or not to call in the application for his determination. This letter followed representations made to the
Secretary of State by opponents to the scheme.
CCC decided to report the application back to committee to address the alleged flaws in their March
committee report. They could not in any case issue a permission whilst awaiting a decision from the Secretary
of State. The application was reported back to DCR in October 2019 where the members again resolved
unanimously to grant permission.
The decision not to call in the application was released by the Secretary of State in November 2019.
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