A JUDICIAL review into plans to build an undersea mine off the coast of St Bees has been withdrawn.

West Cumbria Mining (WCM), which is behind the £165m plans which would create about 500 jobs, said it regretted the delays the legal challenge brought to the project and is looking forward to pressing ahead during tough economic times when jobs are much-needed.

Marianne Birkby, who spearheaded the campaign against the mine with the group Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole, said the legal challenge had achieved its objective.

WCM submitted its plans in May 2017 and those were approved by the county council last year.

But now the firm is proposing a change in the way it plans to process coking coal, meaning only premium metallurgical coal will be processed.

The revisions must now be considered by the county council’s development panel.

Ms Birkby said: “The point of the judicial review was to get Cumbria County Council to look at the plans again. Since WCM submitted the new details, there was no point in carrying on with the judicial review because they will reconsider it anyway.”

The application for the judicial review had been accepted but a date had not yet been set.

The changes proposed by WCM would mean that the by-product middlings will no longer be produced, instead only premium metallurgical coal will be processed there.

A WCM spokesman said: “West Cumbria Mining deeply regrets the delays which have been caused by this now abandoned legal challenge. It regrets the delay to important new job creation in West Cumbria, to new investment and to our plans to deliver the project.

“WCM now looks forward to taking its plans forward at this important time when economic uncertainty is so acute.

“It is also important to consider that the longer the WCM project is delayed then the more metallurgical coal will need to be imported from the USA and around the world for British and European steelmakers. The shipping carbon footprint from this process is considerable and has been acknowledged by Ministers in Parliament. WCM continues to receive strong support from the local community and wider stakeholders.”

Ms Birkby, however, said she was hopeful the county council will reject the plans. She said: “There is a glut of coking coal in the world and there are other ways of making steel by recycling it."

She added she was also concerned about the proximity of the proposed site to Sellafield, and the ecological impact.

The county council has launched a consultation into the plans, which will close on June 15. To comment visit: planning.cumbria.gov.uk/Planning/Display/4/17/9007