DOZENS of demonstrators - some dressed as canaries - gathered to protest a new coal mine in Cumbria.

The protesters, including members of Extinction Rebellion (XR) Furness, assembled outside County Hall yesterday morning ahead of a meeting where the prospective mine was discussed.

The demonstrators remained outside the council’s Kendal offices for several hours, requesting dialogue with councillors.

Anthea Hanson, a member of XR Furness, took part in a Green Brigade march as part of the demonstration.

“There was a great turnout for this morning’s demonstration," she said. "One person came from Millom. Others came from Carlisle and Blackburn to take part.

“This mine would make a mockery of the government’s climate change declaration, reducing all of their statements up to this point to greenwash.”

Ms Hanson, an education officer and Backbarrow resident, recognised the coal mine’s appeal for residents in one of England’s most deprived wards. West Cumbria Mining, the firm bringing forward the project, says it will create around 500 jobs.

“None of us want the West Coast to be without jobs,” Ms Hanson said.

“But now is the time to turn away from the industries of the past and to invest in more sustainable forms of steel production. Allowing this project to go ahead would represent a backwards step on the basis of a very debatable jobs creation promise.”

A spokesman for XR Furness said: “To say a coal mine could be ‘carbon neutral,’ as councillors who gave it the go-ahead were told, is absurd. We support today’s action against this ludicrous plan for a new coal mine.”

The county council approved the development of the coal mine near Whitehaven last March.

The project, which has recently been made the subject of a legal challenge, would be the UK’s first new deep mine in decades.

Unlike with other recent mining applications in the North East, the government has not called in the decision for review.

Aside from taking aim at county council leaders for their approval of the mine, protesters scolded the council for not having declared a climate emergency - in contrast with Barrow Borough Council, Ulverston Town Council and a number of other local authorities in the region.