Preparation for the UK’s first deep coal mine in decades will open soon after the government decided not to intervene.
West Cumbria Mining said the new mine – near the site of the former Haig Colliery in Whitehaven which shut in 1986 – would create 500 jobs.
Cumbria county councilors gave it the go-ahead in March, but this sparked a number of objections, including a call for government scrutiny.
However, ministers have now said the council should make the decision.
Councilors have placed their support for the plans.
The Woodhouse Colliery would extract coking coal from the seabed off St Bees, with a processing plant on the former Marchon site at Kells.
However, the plans have sparked controversy, with objectors – some of whom staged a sit-in on the floor of the council chamber – saying it would contribute to global warming.
Tim Farron, the Liberal Democrat MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale, who asked for the “call-in” described the news as “a kick in the teeth in the fight to tackle climate change”.
He said: “Cumbria has so many renewable resources to provide energy – water, wind and solar – and we should most definitely not be taking the backward step of
Trudy Harrison, Conservative MP for Copeland welcomed what she described as “fantastic news”.
She said: “It is important that this development goes ahead and I am pleased that common sense has prevailed.
“Coking coal is very good for the steel industry and this has been rightly recognized.”