The Government has told the High Court that the approval of a new coal mine in Cumbria should be quashed and has withdrawn its defence of a legal challenge against the decision, environmental campaign groups have said.

Friends of the Earth (FoE) and South Lakes Action on Climate Change (SLACC) had brought a High Court claim against the Department for Housing, Communities and Local Government over its decision to grant planning permission for the site near Whitehaven, which was set to be the first new coal mine in the UK in 30 years.

The groups were set to argue that the decision was unlawful at a three-day hearing in London next week, but they said on Thursday that the Government had withdrawn its defence and told the High Court that the decision to grant planning permission should be quashed.

But they said a hearing would still be held as the site’s developer, West Cumbria Mining, is expected to oppose the legal claim.

The decision comes after a Supreme Court ruling last month where justices at the UK’s highest court said that emissions created by burning fossil fuels should be considered when granting planning permission for sites where they are extracted.

FoE climate co-ordinator, Jamie Peters, said: “We’re delighted the Government agrees that planning permission for this destructive, polluting and unnecessary coal mine was unlawfully granted and that it should be quashed.

“We hope the court agrees, and that the mine is then rejected when the Secretary of State reconsiders the application.

“Friends of the Earth will continue to stand alongside SLACC and the other community groups in Cumbria who have fought so bravely to halt this mine.

“The new Government must now ensure that areas like West Cumbria get the jobs and investment they urgently need so that people living there can reap the benefits of building a clean, green and affordable future.”

Maggie Mason, of SLACC, said: “We argued throughout the inquiry and this legal claim that the emissions from using the coal were not properly assessed and it is great to see this acknowledged.

“Our small charity has opposed the mine because of its harmful impacts on the local and global climate, and the appalling precedent created by West Cumbria Mining’s claim that a new coal mine doesn’t increase the global use of coal.

“Building the mine on an old chemical site close to homes and the Irish Sea was also risky. West Cumbrians deserve jobs that don’t cost the earth.”

The groups said that if West Cumbria Mining also drops its opposition to the legal claim, the court could approve an order to quash the decision to grant planning permission next week, with the decision then sent back to the housing, communities and local government minister for reconsideration.

The decision follows the quashing of the approval for an oilfield in the Lincolnshire Wolds, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), earlier on Thursday.

Campaign group SOS Biscathorpe had brought a High Court claim against the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities over the decision to permit exploratory oil drilling and production at the site in Biscathorpe.

At a hearing in June, the group’s barrister, Estelle Dehon KC said that major development in AONBs is permitted only in “exceptional circumstances” and that the approval decision was unlawful.

Law firm Leigh Day, which represents the campaigners, said on Thursday that the government department – prior to the General Election – had agreed to concede the case and quashed the approval, following the Supreme Court ruling.

Leigh Day solicitor Julia Eriksen, who represents the campaigners, said: “We are hugely pleased that this case has resulted in a positive outcome and are proud to represent a local community group in their continuing fight against fossil fuel development.”

She continued: “This case illustrates the significant implications of the Supreme Court’s landmark judgment on fossil fuel production in June, which ruled that planning inspectors must take into account the downstream emissions from burning fuel when considering fossil fuel applications.

“We hope this success in Lincolnshire is a positive sign for similar cases still before the courts.”

Amanda Suddaby from SOS Biscathorpe said: “We are delighted that 10 years of hard work and campaigning have finally paid off, and it was also encouraging to see that these very senior judges seemed to recognise and value the importance of public participation in addressing the enormous issue of climate crisis.

“Our hope now is that this paves the way to a full and proper understanding of the great harm that each and every new fossil fuel development represents.”