AN anonymous Conservative source quoted in a national newspaper claims that minds are made up in Westminster about plans for a coal mine in Whitehaven.

The final verdict on proposals to build a coking coal mine in Whitehaven rests with Secretary of State for Levelling-Up, Housing and Communities, Michael Gove.

West Cumbria Mining’s plan to develop Woodhouse Colliery on the former Marchon Chemical Works site was the subject of a fraught public inquiry in 2021. The investigation was necessary after Government intervention.

READ MORE: Deadline for decision on Whitehaven coal mine set by Planning Inspectorate

The planning inspector has now submitted his findings and a recommendation to Mr Gove who must make a final decision by July 7.

And the Daily Telegraph is reporting that the front bench MP is minded to approve the coal mine bid.

A senior Tory source said they “get the impression he is going to approve it.”

The source suggests Government is keen to “slash the need to import foreign coal, deliver the levelling-up agenda for Cumbria and support Britain’s steelmakers.”

In March, Mayor of Copeland Mike Starkie wrote a letter urging Mr Gove to approve the mine in light of the situation in Ukraine as Britain imports 1.6 metric tonnes of coal from Russia.

This week he said reports are “the most promising thing I’ve seen so far. I’ve always been confident in the plans because it’s the right thing to do.

“Irrespective of the situation in Russia, it should have already been given the go ahead. What I would urge is that this is done with immediate effect.”

Rumours suggest that Government is holding off on the announcement until after the election.

Mr Starkie said: “This a planning application and planning applications are going through councils every week of the year without being stopped because of purdah.

“Let’s get the shovels in the sand and the coal out of that mine.”

Supporters of the application believe it would bring jobs and investment to the area.

But West Cumbria Friends of the Earth co-ordinator Ruth Balogh said: “The mayor wants to know about 500 jobs but it’s very clear if the climate crisis is taken seriously, there are many thousands of jobs which can be created in retrofitting, nature conservation, renewable energy parks and so forth.”

READ MORE: Public inquiry into West Cumbrian coal mine plan concludes

FOE and South Lakes Action on Climate Change were two of the main contributors to the inquiry last year, they urged the inspectorate to recommend the plans are refused.

They believe that no new coal mines should be opened during the climate crisis.

Copeland Labour takes the reports “with a pinch of salt.”

Copeland Borough Councillor for Whitehaven Joseph Ghayouba said: “It’s desperation on the side of the Conservatives, they’re worried about the reaction they’re getting on the doorstep in Copeland.

“It’s an anonymous source briefing a Conservative newspaper that Michael Gove is in favour of the coal mine, they’re just desperate.”