THE long-awaited decision on plans for a £165m undersea coal mine in West Cumbria has been delayed yet again.

The overdue project, which is expected to create more than 500 jobs, had been due to go before the county council’s planning panel on Friday.

But it will not now be discussed until March after the top tier authority said “outstanding issues” needed to be resolved before the plans can be put before members.

West Cumbria Mining wants to extract coking coal off the coast of St Bees, with a processing plant on the former Marchon site at Kells.

The planning application was lodged at the end of May 2017.

A county council spokesman said: “Both West Cumbria Mining and Cumbria County Council are working hard to resolve the remaining outstanding issues raised by the last round of public consultation in December 2018 to January 2019.

“That consultation dealt with WCM`s revised proposal to drive two new sections of tunnels to reach the coal, instead of de-watering and using part of the old existing Anhydrite mine.

“Because the impacts are different, some new matters have emerged that need to be addressed. We are confident that they will be and we are working towards a date of 19 March for a decision on the application.”

Work to create Whitehaven Colliery off the west Cumbrian coast was due to kick-off at the end of last year.

The planning application was lodged at the end of May 2017.

A spokeswoman for West Cumbria Mining said the company was “working closely” with the county council towards a proposed planning meeting date of March 19, in Kendal, and has now provided all the information requested.