A PETITION to stop plans for a new coal mine in Cumbria is close to hitting its target of 10,000 signatures.

The 'take action' petition on the CPRE website hopes to stop the plans for the coal mine immediately and 'end the era of coal in the UK'.

9,565 people have currently signed the petition, putting the 10,000 target in sight.

Recent analysis from green campaigners suggests that the new coalmine is 'likely to be redundant before it even opens', as steelmakers who are the target market are moving away from fossil fuels.

Caroline Lucas, the Green Party MP, has been vocal on the issue for some time. In August 2021, she responded to the Prime Minister's comments about 'making coal history', saying on Twitter:

"And that means *all* coal, including the new mine in Cumbria to produce coal for steel."

She also responded to yesterday's news, tweeting: "As if we needed any more evidence that a new coal mine is an utterly absurd idea".

However, Gerard Richardson, the owner of Richardsons in Whitehaven, strongly supports the new coal mine plans.

He said: "I'm very much in favour of the mine and while my being a businessman tints that, there are plenty of business folk who have different views."

When asked about how the petition made him feel on his stance he commented: "The petition has no effect on my opinion and wouldn't change my position unless the bulk of the local population were against it. This is a local matter and should be dealt with according to local opinion."

Gerard's main support standpoint is derived from the career industry, he said: "The issue around here is one of employment. Sellafield is steadily reducing its payroll and talk of future investment in reactors or repositories is just that... talk."

"The mine is the first bit of major and truly independent non-nuclear investment around here for decades and it should be welcomed with open arms."

In terms of the mine's opponents, he added: "They keep talking about future developments and new ways to produce steel, but they aren't putting any serious efforts into making any of it happen."

However, he did point out the enviromental impact that the coalmine has and his concern for this, saying: "There's no question that we all need to change our ways to give the planet a chance but many people, myself included, believe the changes need to take the economy and the impact on lifestyles into account."

READ MORE: Top steel boss: demand argument for Whitehaven coal mine 'doesn't stack up'