AN environmental group has once more criticised plans for a new coal mine in Cumbria. 

Friends of the Earth have said the plans for the Whitehaven mine are 'collapsing and the government should withdraw support for the project.'

This comes on the first anniversary of the government’s decision to give the mine the green light. 

Climate discussions are ongoing in Dubai, where the international community is discussing ways to accelerate action to deal with the climate crisis.  

Friends of the Earth energy campaigner, Tony Bosworth, said: “A year ago, the government claimed that the Cumbria mine was needed to provide coal for the UK and EU steel industry for decades to come – but that market is now disappearing fast before construction of the mine has even started.

"Indeed, the rapid switch to green steel is being supported and funded by the same government that approved the mine."

Friends of the Earth say that the principal market for the coal, which would be used by the steel industry, was cited by its developer as “Northern, Southern, Western Europe and Turkey”, with UK customers due to buy 13 per cent of production. 

The group say that in the year since permission was granted, the owners of the UK’s four remaining coal-fired blast furnaces (Tata Steel and British Steel) have revealed plans to replace them with electric arc furnaces, which only use a tiny fraction of the coal.

Friends of the Earth, and campaign group South Lakes Action on Climate Change (SLACC) are taking legal action to challenge the government’s decision. 

But the mayor of Whitehaven, Chris Hayes, said: "I'm the Kells councillor, the unemployment rate on that ward is unbelievable - we need the jobs."

Whitehaven business owner, Gerard Richardson said: "The economic case is still there, otherwise the private investment wouldn't be available. 

"As for whether the government should withdraw its support I would question why because it is still legal."