PROTESTERS took to the streets of one of the most popular towns in the Lake District to fight plans for coal mining which they fear will take place dangerously close to Sellafield.

On Sunday, hardy opponents of the plan gathered in Bowness in the driving rain to protest against plans to open a colliery under the sea at St Bees. Colourful Banners carried messages including “Stop Coal, Keep it in the Hole”.

Radiation Free Lakeland campaigner, Marianne Birkby, said: “This is a small but determined rally. People have travelled from West Cumbria, Lancaster and even as far away as London to stand in opposition to the coal mine.

"The more people know about it the more deeply angry they are at the thought of deep coal mining in such close proximity to Sellafield. We have just been speaking to a miner from Yorkshire who says the plan is absolutely the most dangerous thing he has heard of.”

Opponents of the coal mine fear that having coal drifts extend to within 8km of the Sellafield ponds, containing high level nuclear wastes, would put the public at risk. They also point out the proximity of the potential mining activity to the proposed new nuclear facility at Moorside.

The plans are to be decided at a meeting of Cumbria County Council on November 1, with the applicants hoping to open the Woodhouse Colliery in 2019.

Approached ahead of the protests last week, a spokesperson for West Cumbria Mining said: "Our planning application is currently with Cumbria County Council for consideration and there is no further comment at this time."