The decision to approve controversial plans for a new coal mine in west Cumbria has drawn a mixed reaction across the county.

West Cumbria Mining’s proposed development was approved on Friday but while Cumbria County Council’s Development Control and Regulation Committee has given the development the green light, the council can’t formally give it permission yet.

A holding direction has been issued meaning Robert Jenrick, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, is considering whether or not to call in the decision and make the final call himself.

During the meeting that was held on Friday, councillor Chris Whiteside, for Egremont North and St Bees, stressed that the majority of local people were in favour. He said: “The time of coal for making steel is not over. It is better for our people and the environment to make that steel in Britain and Europe with coal mined in an environmentally-sensitive way from under the sea or land off my division and taken by rail to Redcar, Scunthorpe and Port Talbot than to use steel made with coal from Russia and the USA, much of it strip-mined in the Appalachians and shipped across the Atlantic.”

Councillor Alan McGuckin said he supported the steel industry but voted against as he felt, globally, the coal mine was not needed.

Case officer Paul Haggin told members coal is necessary at this present time to make steel and no coal of this grade is produced anywhere the UK or Europe because if there was we wouldn’t be importing it.

Once the vote was announced XR Activists, dressed as forensic investigators, set up the climate ‘crime scene’, with tape cordoning off an area outside the county offices, and chalk-outlined bodies of a human, a bee and a butterfly. One of the activists then delivered a speech charging the county council with a “climate crime”, “a serious offence with grievous impact on the lives of Cumbrians and on every single person living on this planet”.

One of the XR activists, George Smith, said: “The council report contains many claims that are simply untrue, a point made by several of those who spoke today, and we expect these to be the subject of legal challenge.

“It has blatantly ignored the overwhelming evidence presented to it by the scientific community who warn that the coal mine will contribute significantly to the climate crisis. Its decision on Friday is reckless beyond belief. The climate crisis isn’t going away, and neither are the many ordinary people who oppose this coal mine. We won’t accept this decision lying down.”

Another activist, Gwen Harrison, said “the idea that we can just carry on emitting greenhouse gases as normal until a 2050 cliff edge is crazy. We need to be making deep cuts between now and then, otherwise we’ve no hope of averting climate breakdown”.

Friends of the Earth has called for the government to call in the application.

Last month the Secretary of State Robert Jenrick refused permission for an opencast coal mine at Druridge Bay in Northumberland, saying it was “not environmentally acceptable”

Campaigner Estelle Worthington said: “It’s terrible that this new coal mine has been given the go-ahead in the middle of a climate crisis. The Secretary of State must intervene and call in this unnecessary and destructive application or else it contradicts everything the government like to say about taking climate change seriously.”

Copeland elected mayor Mike Starkie said he "wholeheartedly" welcomed the decision.

He added: “This is an important new export-led industrial project. It is a significant employment and new skills opportunity for Copeland and West Cumbria at this extremely challenging and difficult time, and will supply the domestic and European steel industry with high quality metallurgical coal."