As Cumbria County Council Withdraw Their Support for the Coal Mine, We Expose the Public Inquiry as a “Farce”

Theatre Farce (Petrov-Vodkin)

We have called upon Tim Farron MP to ask that Government scrap the farcical Public Inquiry and puts an immediate Block on the Secretive WCM Coal Authority Licences.

Dear Tim,

As the only MP in the County strongly opposing the coal mine you will no doubt share Radiation Free Lakeland’s delight that the County Council has withdrawn its support for the mine and will not now provide any witnesses or evidence to the public inquiry (scheduled for September). 

As nuclear safety campaigners we have long held the belief that we had far more likelihood of persuading the Council to overturn their approval than government who have such vested interests in West Cumbria Mining’s expertise with regards the Critical National Infrastructure project of deep ‘disposal’ of heat generating nuclear wastes.

We now know the public inquiry is a farce.  A farce because the County Council’s decision to approve the mine no longer exists.  A farce because government have appointed the existing coal mine CEO and former Head of Operations to the Delivery of Geological Disposal of Heat Generating Nuclear Wastes with the Irish Sea area adjacent to the coal mine being in the frame. A farce because the government could stop its virtue signalling and actually scrap the coal mine tomorrow by blocking the developer’s application for new Coal Authority licences.  New secretive licences which the public are being refused sight of and have no idea what they contain.

It is now more clear than ever that the enormous expense of a public inquiry could be spared.  The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Kwasi Kwarteng MP could put his ‘coal mine should be blocked’ words into action and put the kaibosh on renewal of the developer’s licence to drill.   The letter below asking for an immediate block on the licence to drill has been signed by organisations as diverse as the  Ethical Consumer Research Association, CND and the Sea Horse Trust.  Leading academics have also signed along with Whitehaven locals who are concerned amongst other things about the enormous ground water withdrawal that this mine would abstract from a named geological fault.  Our letter recieved no media attention (in contrast to blanket coverage of the letter from  organisations focussing narrowly on climate), this disparity is we believe because our letter “outs” the Government’s vested interests in West Cumbria Mining and exposes the scandalous recklessness and cronyism regarding nuclear safety.   Asking the public to pay for an expensive inquiry into a coal mine whose CEO is employed by Government as a nuclear waste advisor, a coal mine which is guaranteed to flout climate and nuclear safety and would end up being a stranded asset (ready to morph into an entirely different asset?)  at a time of austerity is scandalous.  The mine could be stopped today.

The public inquiry is a farce and should be halted with the immediate blocking of Coal Authority licences for West Cumbria Mining.  If this does not happen Government should come clean on its vested nuclear waste interests regarding West Cumbria Mining’s expertise.

Correspondence below with BEIS indicates deliberate obfuscation by Government over their role in protecting WCM interests at the expense of any social licence for the development or public scrutiny.
Thank you for your continued opposition to the coal mine which is far more dangerous than the sum of its parts.

We would like to ask that Government now scraps the farcical Public Inquiry and puts an immediate Block on the Secret WCM Coal Authority Licences. Any help you can give us in achieving this “Big Ask” would be so very much appreciated.

Yours Sincerely

Marianne Birkby
on behalf of Radiation Free Lakeland



To the Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng Secretary of State for BEIS


I am writing to you again on behalf of nuclear safety group Radiation Free Lakeland.  We were the first to call out the proposed coal mine development in Cumbria and remain unequivocally opposed to the plan on both climate and nuclear safety grounds so we were delighted to hear your statement that there are “very compelling reasons” to block the mine.


The position of Secretary of State grants the wherewithal to put these words into action and to actually block the coal mine by ordering the Coal Authority (who report to BEIS) not to renew or extend existing conditional licenses or grant new unconditional licences to the developers West Cumbria Mining whose licence to drill has now lapsed.


This would save the public purse the huge expense of a public inquiry and send a strong message to the UK and our international neighbours that BEIS is committed to both climate and nuclear safety.  


While the significant climate impacts of this coal mine would be exactly the same anywhere else in the UK, this coal mine is not just anywhere in the UK. The mine would be largely subsea off the West Coast of Cumbria, would extend to within five miles of the world’s riskiest nuclear waste site and be directly under a massive nuclear waste dump known as the Sellafield Mud Patch.  Sellafield has been pumping eight million litres of  “low level” radioactive discharges into the Irish Sea every day. It been doing that for decades and nuclear wastes still continue to arrive in West Cumbria.  The nuclear waste discharge pipeline out to the Irish Sea is in constant use.  The coal mine developers say there would be “expected subsidence” of the Irish Sea bed.   Recent reports (attached) have indicated this would most likely result in the resuspension of decades worth of Sellafield’s radioactive wastes now largely immobilised in the Irish Sea bed.  Radioactive wastes including plutonium would be resuspended back into the water column, to ours and to neighbouring shores.  The one thing not to do with a radioactive waste dump is disturb it.


The world has changed since the Coal Authority issued West Cumbria Mining with conditional licences 8 years ago.  Eight years ago there was no public scrutiny as the Coal Authority was permitted to issue licences above the heads of the public and Cumbrian councillors.   Eight years on and many miles of subsea ‘exploratory’ mining boreholes and core samples later, questions of climate and nuclear safety are being asked about this coal mine.  Despite the controversy the Coal Authority have replied directly to us saying that there would be no public consultation into issuing West Cumbria Mining with new licences to drill, this is outrageous.    


As well as being under decades of Sellafield’s discharged nuclear wastes the mine itself would be adjacent to the area being promoted as a possible Geological Disposal Facility for heat generating nuclear wastes under the Irish Sea.  BEIS’s wide ranging responsibilities include the provision of and management of the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM). The CEO of the coal mine Mark Kirkbride has been appointed by BEIS to CoRWM (Nov 2019) to advise government on ‘Delivery”  of a Geological Disposal Facility (GDF).  The proposed coal mine  would make a void of 136 Million square metres.  What destabilising impact would this have on the laterally neighbouring rocks Radioactive Waste Management (advised by CoRWM) tell us are “Possible” for a GDF 


These questions (and more) should, but are not likely to be within the remit of a forthcoming public inquiry focussing on planning rather than issues of governance and nuclear safety.  The public have already paid out £millions for this coal mine, to be precise,  £2.5 Million in Heritage Lottery Funds for the Haig Colliery Museum which was then handed over to the developers for £1 (courtesy of the Coal Authority handing the developers a pre-emption right).   

As Secretary of State responsible for the Coal Authority you could ensure that the public do not have to foot the bill yet again, this time for a public inquiry into a coal mine that should have been scrapped yesterday. Tomorrow would be a good day to order the Coal Authority not to issue West Cumbria Mining with licence to drill.  By taking this action the coal mine would be blocked and the expense of a public inquiry prevented.  


Leading Cumbrian Councillors had already reassessed their former support for the mine and voted “no.”  Through this No vote they have voiced their opposition alongside leading academics, scientists,  politicians, the public and many organisations.   We urge you to honour the wishes of leading Cumbrian councillors and the millions of people represented by this letter and block this coal mine. The reasons for doing so are not just “compelling” they are overwhelming.  

The mine could be stopped tomorrow and the buck stops with BEIS.

Yours sincerely,

Marianne Birkby, founder of Radiation Free Lakeland
Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole – a RaFL campaign
Brian Jones, Vice Chair, CND Cymru
Jo Smoldon on Behalf of Stop Hinkley
Jonathon Porritt,
Rebecca Heaton Cooper, The Heaton cooper studio, Grasmere
Terry Bennett, Emeritus Professor, Nottingham University
Kate Hudson, General Secretary, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
Anita Stirzaker, Bowness business owner
Alison Denwood, George and Dragon Public House, Harrington, West Cumbria
Harry Doloughan, Whitehaven
Simon Burdis, Northern England, family carer
Philip Gilligan, South Lakeland and Lancaster District CND
Dave Webb, Chair, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
David Smythe, Emeritus Professor of Geophysics, University of Glasgow
Dr Paul Dorfman, UCL Energy Institute
Dr Rachel Western
Postcards from Cumbria – artists collectiveDavid and Una Hatton, Wigton, Cumbria,
Sarah J Darby BSc DPhil Associate Professor, Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford
Samagita Moisha, Lancaster. Concerns for nuclear safety presented to Cumbria CC at both committee hearings
Tim Deere-Jones, Marine Research & Consultancy
Joan West, Cumbria and Lancashire Area CND
Martin Kendall, Resident High Walton, Near Whitehaven
Oliver Tickell, journalist and campaigner
Irene Sanderson, North Cumbria Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
Walter Bennett, I am 90 years of age, born in Frizington, Cumberland, son of a coal miner, (former Director responsible for Technology in an International Company)
Dr Carl Iwan Clowes OBE, Fellow Royal College of Physicians Faculty of Public Health, Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of General Practitioners
Mag Richards, WANA, the Welsh Anti-Nuclear Alliance
Ian Ralls, Anti-Nuclear Campaigner
Neil Wilson, Life Long Conservationist, Hodbarrow Mine Action to the Royal Courts of Justice
London Greenpeace, Core Participant within Undercover Policing Public Inquiry (Spycops)
Richard Bramhall, Low Level Radiation Campaign
David Penney, Coordinator, Cumbria and Lancashire Area CND
Martyn Lowe, Close Capenhurst Campaign
Andrew Warren, former special advisor to the House of Commons environment select committee.
Neil Garrick-Maidment FBNA, Executive Director and Founder, The Seahorse Trust
Christine Gibson, Keep it Green, Northern Ireland

Mark Jennings, West Cumbria Water (Save our water services}
David Dane, Veteran Campaigner

Rob Harrison, Ethical Consumer Research Association.


BEIS Ministerial Responsibility for the Coal Authority

“Ministerial responsibility 11. The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is accountable to Parliament for the activities and performance of the Authority and it is proposed that any new Minister with responsibility for the Authority will carry out a visit to the Authority within six months of taking up appointment to learn about the role of the Authority and its functions. Typically, we would expect the chair and chief executive to meet with the minister at least annually. 12. Specific responsibilities include:  approving the Authority’s overall strategic objectives and the policy and performance frameworkwithin which the Authority operates (as set out in this framework document and associated documents  keeping Parliament informed about the Authority’s performance  approving the amount of grant-in-aid/grant/other funds to be paid to the Authority, and securing Parliamentary approval  carrying out responsibilities specified in the Act including appointments to the board, determining the terms and conditions of board members, consenting to the appointment of the, approval of terms and conditions of staff (Including pay) in accordance with the latest pay guidance  laying of the annual report and accounts before Parliament”

Sellafield Radioactive Discharge on the Irish Sea Bed directly beneath the coal mine plan and question of ‘Who is Responsible for Safety of the Discharged Nuclear Wastes?’  is subject to complaint being dealt with by the Information Commissioner

Coal Authority Licences

6th Climate Budget     note the Climate Change Committee is appointed by BEIS 

British Geological Society Lack of Testing in West Cumbria

British Geological Society Lack of Testing in Bangladesh

Who is Responsible for Radioactive Waste on the Irish Sea Bed – Call from Nuclear Free Local Authorities NFLA troubled by the UK Communities Minister not ‘calling in’ the decision over a deep underground coal mine in West Cumbria

Haig Colliery and Mining MuseumReturn of final meeting in a creditors’ voluntary winding up

West Cumbria Mining’s documents detailing how assets worth £millions bought for £1would be protected from creditors

24 Nov 2020Registration of charge 071433980002, the document can be found here

The steel industry will soon have little use for Cumbrian coal

Letter from the Coal Authority (who are a BEIS authority)  to Radiation Free Lakeland

.”This site currently has 3 conditional licences which have been in place since 2013/14. A conditional licence allows coal exploration and would need to be replaced by a full licence in order for coaling to begin. On 18th January 2021 date West Cumbria Mining Ltd applied to extend the end dates of 2 of these conditional licences (UND/0184 & UND/0177). They were due to expire on 24th January 2021 but they will remain in place until the application to extend them has been determined. No exploratory works will be undertaken during this time. The application will take approximately 3 months to determine. If the conditional licences were extended the operator would still need to apply for one or more full coaling licences before coaling can begin. When the conditional licence extension application has been determined the outcome will be posted on our website:

note: the Coal Authority later confirmed there would be no public consultation or scrutiny over the issuing of new licences to drill for West Cumbria Mining.  The public are not being allowed sight of the new licence appliations from West Cumbria Mining

Risk To Sellafield from the Coal Mine is ‘extremely low’ say the Office for Nuclear Regulation as Another Pig Flies By.

Write to the Planning Inspectorate asking that the County Council’s approval is overturned by Midnight Tonight – please include concern about nuclear and water impacts – induced seismicity -even “low risk” (which we think is overly optimistic ) is too much of a risk. Email:
Quote reference ‘APP/H0900/V/21/3271069

Shape of things to come?

Since 2017 Radiation Free Lakeland have been asking questions about the risks to Sellafield from the proposed coal mine. The replies from the top regulators Office for Nuclear Regulation are deeply unimpressive and in many respects deeply uninformed and just plain wrong for instance they accepted advice that the water would be coming from the public water supply (hundreds of cubic metres PER HOUR )rather than from the Byerstead Fault and mined out voids. Incredibly the big NGOs have paid no attention whatsoever to this issue. They are focussing myopically on climate and sod the impact on the world’s riskiest nuclear waste site. God (or anyone) help us.

Here is the first part of the trail …

West Cumbria Mining – COAL CRIMES

Date released13 May 2019 Request number201904001Release of information underFreedom of Information Act 2000

Information requested

Please could you ask the ONR for…

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Planning Inquiry told Cumbria County Council were Misled on Fresh Water Usage and Impacts of Cumbria Coal Mine

Sellafield Outlying Planning Zone

Memorandum attached to our Evidence to the Public Inquiry. 

5/5/21  Memorandum from Radiation Free Lakeland

Applicant’s name:                                West Cumbria Mining Ltd

Call-in reference:                                  APP/H0900/V/21/3271069


We would like to make it clear regarding the Byerstead Fault that County Councillors were, as far as we can see, not properly appraised of West Cumbria Mining’s profligate need for fresh water and what the likely impacts of such a huge, ongoing withdrawal of groundwater from the area would be.

We note that the developer’s “Project Description” predicts water usage at 261m3/h. Rather conveniently the water ‘available’( largely from the Byerstead Fault and newly mined voids) is stated as being 262 m3/h.   This is an enormous amount of water and would inevitably impact  groundwater and geology.   This was not discussed at all by councillors who were satisfied with the developer’s assurances that 98 m3/h of the water would be “recycled.”   We believe the councillors have been deliberately misled into believing that 98% of the total water would be recycled.

The water that West Cumbria Mining envisage obtaining due to ingress from the Byerstead Fault is 136m3/h.  This is far higher than the threshold above which an abstraction licence from the Environment Agency is required, and the Officers’ Report for 19 March 2019 notes at para.6.329 that “the removal of water from the mine would require an abstraction licence”.  The Environment Agency have told us there are no applications for abstraction.   There is no indication in Environmental Statement Ch.5 of how water will be obtained if the mines experience lower levels of water ingress than predicted (Public Supply?  Sharing Sellafield’s Supply?).


Historically “Mine pumping in the Cumbrian Coalfield has abstracted up to about 20% of the reliable yield, dominating the flow pattern, and drawing in sea water to pollute the aquifers. Chemical analyses of mine drainage water reflect the infiltrated sea water, but suggest that normal groundwater is probably a sodium sulphate type with subordinate amounts of chloride. Mine workings in the Northumberland and Durham Coalfield were extensively interconnected and pumping maintained a water table at about 150 m below the ground surface. With the end of mining activity, groundwater levels are rising.”,_geology_and_man,_Northern_England

We note that the County Council’s Minerals and Waste Local Plan states:

  1. 16.38  With respect to mineral applications, there is a requirement to establish the relationship that the development has with the water table. If the base of the excavation is near or below the anticipated water table, then there will be a requirement to establish an appropriate monitoring scheme. In some circumstances, the development may be considered unacceptable if it is carried out below the level of the water table.
  2. 16.39  The current licensing exemption on dewatering is likely to be removed in 2017, subject to Ministerial approval, after which, dewatering activities will be brought into regulation by the Environment Agency.

    “human activity – like water extraction – can cause the stress to be released quickly, rather than dissipating slowly over time. “It’s not just that you’re advancing an earthquake that would have happened anyway. It’s that you’re creating more or larger earthquakes,”
    Given the common knowledge that the activities of mining and dewatering can induce seismicity it is puzzling as to why Cumbria County Council have not demanded bullet proof evidence from the regulators that this mine would be safe.  This mine is not just anywhere it is 8km from Selalfield. A recent paper explains that the Sellafield site area is at high risk of liquefaction.
    The lack of scrutiny on impacts is especially troubling as the County Council has a key role to play in the new regulatory requirements demanded by the Outlying Planning Zone of 50km from Sellafield  “Cumbria County Council has accepted the report at a meeting of the cabinet, which was chaired by Cllr Stewart Young. “It demonstrates the role of the county council in the nuclear industry,” he said. “This new concept of an Outlying Planning Zone is new. The zone is determined by kilometres from the centre of the Sellafield site. It takes you way beyond the boundaries of Copeland, showing that other areas of Cumbria would also be affected by a serious incident. “It includes BAE and the docks at Barrow. So, the implications of an accident are so significant for the whole county. It is a responsibility that sits then with Cumbria County Council as well as Barrow, Copeland and Allerdale. This is an important piece of work.”—new-map-shows/
    We reiterate our request to the Planning Inquiry that Water and Nuclear Impacts are not only included but that they are central to the considerations of the Inquiry.  These issues are important (not just to Cumbria) and we feel strongly that they must not be smothered under the blanket of climate concern.
    yours sincerely
    Marianne Bennett (aka Birkby)
    on behalf of Radiation Free Lakeland

Powerful Letter to the Cumbria Coal Mine Public Inquiry from Whitehaven

The following letter is reproduced here with kind permission of the author. Please, if you are drinking bottled water in Whitehaven and surrounding area, do write urgently before May 6th to the Planning Inquiry opposing the coal mine. The water in West Cumbria is already intolerably stressed without a coal mine abstracting 148 cubic metres every single hour from ground water through the Byerstead Fault. This is unacceptable even if West Cumbria’s drinking water situation was not already stressed.

Image from – “Project Description” – West Cumbria Mining

Sent by Email:

Applicant’s name:                                West Cumbria Mining Ltd

Call-in reference:                                  APP/H0900/V/21/3271069

“To whom it may concern,

I have been reading about the new proposed coal mine in West Cumbria and I need to put in my penny worth.

I have been fighting for four years now to have the boreholes, the water of which is mixed with the residents’ tap water, turned off.

The reason for this is that when the boreholes went to a 50/50 mix, hundreds, upon hundreds of animals died within the space of 48 hours! The animals ranged from fish, to cats and dogs, chickens sheep and cattle. The residents were vomiting; had diarrhoea and nasty sore skin, as well as mouth ulcers, headaches and other symptoms.

United have constantly said that there is nothing wrong with the water, however over 6,500 people have given me a completely different story.

On investigating I found, by talking to local witnesses, that for approximately 40 years, the old mines had been used as dumping grounds for everything from cars to hazardous waste!

No one at the time dreamt that the water in the aquifers would ever be used for drinking purposes.

Getting rid of hazardous waste is an expensive matter, so companies took the decision to dump it in the mines for free.

Cumbria County Council have no records of this, they claim, but why would they, if this dumping was done, mostly on the quiet.

Even now with the mix of borehole water and Ennerdale at a 20/80 . very few people can stomach the tap water and have turned to either zero filters or bottled water. The skin rashes are awful. I have had complaints from over 6,500 residents who are sick to death of the water. If they leave the area for a few days, all their symptoms vanish! 

10’s of thousands of bottled water are bought every week in Copeland. When people have a shower, the hospital has advised that one rinses with warmed bottled water and apply cream.

So, my point is, that WCM want to use ground water to wash the coal. Really??? Given that there are God knows what chemicals in said water, let alone what other muck has spread from Sellafield in the past 70 years. Much of what was kept very secret during the war – for obvious reasons.

All this coal mine is going to cause is further climate changing muck.

The 500 jobs it says it will create for the locals is hogwash, as they will have to be bringing in experts from outside the area as no one here has a clue as to the new machinery.

Is that why a whole street has been bought up in St Bees I am told?

Work, to use electricity in the steel Industry has been leaping forward at a pace. This mine will probably not be needed after 2030 and then what?


Mark Jennings NRDC


The Ecologist Article from March 2017 measuring contamination in the Esk Estuary, compares to Fukishima!

“What do all these numbers mean to the non-scientist? Well, the Geiger counter dose rate of 3 uSv/h tells us that the area contamination is about 900 kBq/m2 in that tidal area of the River Esk. The particle analysis tells us that the radioactivity is mainly in Plutonium and Americium hot particles with some Caesium-137.

This hot particle scenario is the same as in the inner Chernobyl contamination zones. The dose rate is about equal to the level of contamination in the 30km zone of the Fukushima reactors shortly after the disaster.”

“The United Nations developed a contamination classification scheme after Chernobyl. Its definition of contaminated land was 37-185 kBq/m2. The Chernobyl Zone of Permanent Control was set at 185-555 kBq/m2 [4]. So we can say that the estuary is ‘radioactively contaminated land‘ and should be a ‘zone of permanent control’ under the United Nations definition.

“But there are no United Nations warning notices at the beaches and estuaries near Sellafield.”Inline image

AN EXAMPLE OF SKIN CONDITIONS If you want more examples, please ask – I have hundreds!”

Image from United Utilities – One Cubic Metre of Water = 13 baths or 28 showers or 111 toilet flushes. West Cumbria Mining propose to draw 148 Cubic Metres Every Hour for their onsite processes.

Evidence Sent to the Public Inquiry – Please Send Your Own in Before May 6th

Dear Friends,

below is our evidence to the public inquiry – please do feel free to use this as inspiration for your own letters to the Planning Inspectorate.

Our evidence is not a full list by any means – for example we havn’t mentioned the re-routing of the Wainwright Coast to Coast or the fact that this area is the last breeding place of in England of the black guillemot.

In conclusion we have said :

Radiation Free Lakeland strongly urge the Planning Inspector to consider issues which he may initially have felt were outside the scope of this Inquiry but which have been central to our concerns from the outset. Issues including nuclear safety and drinking water quality.  Issues which may in the final analysis be of even more overwhelming concern than climate impacts.   Nuclear impacts would be catastrophic for the immediate and long term future and viability of not only Cumbria’s health and safety but the health and safety of our neighbouring countries.  Our final thought is to leave the image of our first thought upon seeing West Cumbria Mining’s vision of the coal mine.  It looks uncannily similar to the view of the Chernobyl sarcophagus and for those living in the shadow of Sellafield looks like the threat of a nuclear sacrifice zone rather than a promise of a “green mine.”   

We urge the Planning Inspector to overturn Cumbria County Council’s approval for this uniquely dangerous coal mine.

Please do write to the Planning Inspectorate, include your name and address and write before May 6th to this address, if you would like to speak at the inquiry please do let the Planning Inspectorate know.

Quote reference ‘APP/H0900/V/21/3271069
By post. (please send 3 copies written in black if possible)
Letters can be sent to:
Ms Elizabeth Humphrey
The Planning Inspectorate
Room 3/J Kite Wing
Temple Quay House
2 The Square
Bristol, BS1 6PN

Our full letter is below – please do use for inspiration for your own letters to the Planning Inspectorate

on behalf of Radiation Free Lakeland


(1) GDF plan halted 2013

(2). Keekle Head

(3) Legal Challenge

(4) Leigh Day Judicial Review granted permission,the%20UK%20to%20be%20built.&text=On%2020%20June%202019%2C%20Leigh%20Day%20wrote%20to%20Cumbria%20County%20Council.


(6) Copy attached  of Final Judgement between Marianne Bennett and Cumbria County Council and West Cumbria Mining 18/08/2020

(7) “Despite the applicant declaring on the company website that the raw material has very low ash and moderate sulphur levels, the key coking characteristics reflected in the current set of conditions are already and generously set high, at 8% for ash and 1.25% for sulphur.  The applicant now requests to relax this to 9% and 2% respectively but is not offering a credible reason why this is necessary”.

(8) Anhydrite mine

(9) Potential for Contamination of Egremont boreholes used by UU as potable drinking water source for parts of West Cumbria (Appendix 12-9 Response to EA Comments by ESI Consulting – attached)

(10) “This group is dedicated to improving the water quality in West Cumbria and has been created as a result of the recent introduction of borehole water into our supply which many feel is unsatisfactory to say the least”. .

(11) Groundwater monitoring at Sellafield

“workers repairing the leak were asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement, preventing them from discussing the details of the work, however Sellafield has denied this. The spokesman said: “We have been open and transparent about this incident. We have kept our regulators and stakeholders informed throughout and published details on our website on 18 November.” Last month there was another leak in the older part of the site and work is due to take place in the new year. Sellafield said: “The current suspected leak is in an inaccessible part of the building, which is underground.

(12) Byerstead Fault questions asked of the EA and BGS

(13) Troubled Waters

(14) Citizen Science – Radioactive Beaches


(16)  Cronyism

(17)  Coal Authority


(19) enclosed The Pit and the Polar bear – comic book.

Top Trump Cronies: Nuclear Waste and the UK’s First Deep Coal Mine in 30 years.

Accusations of Climate Hypocrisy are far preferable to our Nuclear Obsessed Government than accusations of High Level Nuclear Waste Corruption and Cronyism.

This article is from our dedicated Lakes Against Nuclear Dump campaign website.

Image from “The Pit and the Polar Bear.” Coal Boss, Mark Kirkbride Welcomed to HM Govnt’s Deep Nuclear Dump Planning Dept.

Lucrative Govnt contracts guaranteed for Critical National Infrastructure plan of a Geological Nuclear Dump – worth £Billions to business interests

Top Tier Cronies: Nuclear Waste and the UK’s First Deep Coal Mine in 30 years.

Close relationships between companies and government have recently been aired widely in the public arena and rightly condemned as intolerable. Australian financier Les Greensill ran a company offering supply chain finance for “future and prospective receivables” (such as Bluestone metallurgical coal company in the US) and had insinuated himself into the upper echelons of UK government.

That is a big deal – a big corrupt deal.

But there is a far bigger deal going on between business interests and UK…

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Whitehaven Town Council, West Cumbria’s Water and the Mine

In this weeks Whitehaven news are two letters that dovetail each other. One is about the “Ongoing fight over water from our taps” and another is about the ethics of Whitehaven Town Council’s petition. The Town Council’s petition supports the coal mine that would literally undermine the borehole water that West Cumbrians have coming out of their taps. There are likely to be more Whitehaven and Egremont folk per capita using bottled water than Londoners, this is not because West Cumbrians are metropolitan types but because so many West Cumbrians already do not trust the water that is coming out of their taps as safe to drink. A new and aggressive coal mine in the area near Sellafield would make a truly bad situation even worse.

What is the Public Inquiry For? – The Developer Has Submitted Secretive New Applications for New Coal Authority Licences.

Haig Mining Museum and Land Bought for £1 by West Cumbria Mining on the “Colourful Coast”

We are asking for two things.  Firstly for the Secretary of State for BEIS Kwasi Kwarteng MP to acknowledge that he has the authority to block new licences/variations to existing licences for the Cumbrian coal mine and to use that authority to stop the Coal Authority licences and this coal mine dead in its tracks. This would save the public the huge expense of a Public Inquiry.   If the Secretary of State for BEIS / the Coal Authority are minded to approve the licences for what now amounts to an amended development then what on earth is the point of the public inquiry founded on the previous licences?

Secondly, to let the public actually have sight of the developer’s new licence applications. If the licences are exactly the same as previously then why cannot we have sight of them?

The Public Inquiry is asking the public to comment on a development which has changed the goal posts. The public has no idea what the developers have now applied for within their new licence applications (we do know they want to drill 1000 m deeper than the deepest coal seam).

Here is some correspondence below with many thanks to local expertise!

Please do keep on signing and sharing our new petition to BLOCK THE COAL LICENCES and save the expense of a public inquiry.

Our Reply to BEIS  A response to your recent enquiry – Ref: TOSL2021/10724

20th April 21 by email

Dear Ms Huish,

Thank you for your letter dated 19 April 2021 sent on behalf of the Secretary of State in response to our email to him dated 29 March 2021. The apology for the delay in responding is unnecessary as it hopefully reflects the serious nature of the subject matter and the consideration that was given to it. That said, the response is quite unhelpful as the content simply duplicates the standard wording of correspondence from the Coal Authority on the same subject. You may be aware in this regard that the Coal Authority has refused to supply us with a copy of the West Cumbria Mining (WCM) variation request on the grounds, firstly, that it prejudices the company’s commercial interests and, secondly, because the CEO of the company has refused his permission for them to respond positively. Your response also misrepresents somewhat the situation with regard to the powers of the Secretary of State and the relevance of the planning application with regard to coal industry license applications. The essence of the WCM application is that they are seeking a second extension to two of their three licenses. These have already exceeded the normal maximum of eight years without any consideration of introducing competition, as required by law. It has little or nothing to do with planning permission or the division of responsibility between government departments.

In light of the above, we would like to draw to your attention the relevant clauses in the principal legislation that empowers the Secretary of State and restricts the Coal Authority in matters such as these. The first is Article 6 of the Coal Industry Act 1994. This is written in such a broad way as to give the Secretary of State the power, if he is so minded, to call in all available information from the Coal Authority, form his own opinion and then direct the Coal Authority to decide accordingly. This is to all intents and purposes the power to call in. The second is Article 5 of the same Act which, inter alia, states that the Coal Authority does not have power to take any steps for the benefit of another for obtaining planning permission. In this regard the delaying steps being taken by the Coal Authority are consistent with the tenor of your letter but not with Clause 5 of the relevant legislation. We would therefore hope the Secretary of State recognises this and chooses to exercise his power to intervene in order to protect the Coal Authority from erring further. Naturally, in light of his widely publicised statements on this project, on coal in general and his response to the recent parliamentary debate on the future of coal, we hope he will refuse to extend the licenses. In summary, the WCM planning application is not a material factor in determining both of the license variation requests and particularly the inshore area license.

The Secretary of State may find it helpful to be reminded that the citizen opposition to this highly speculative financial project, with its Australian origins and controllers, is made up of at least three strands. The most public strand is, of course, that articulated by those concerned about worldwide climate change and the mixed messages currently being projected by the UK government. Secondly, I speak for many who have concerns at the grave risk to nuclear safety around the licensed nuclear sites at Sellafied and Drigg that the mine and its influential CEO are introducing. The third strand relates to the topical issue of cronyism and financial suspicions that come from the ten year relationship between the CEO and the former Energy Minister Charles Hendry (who in office was keen to “accelerate” Geological Disposal of nuclear wastes), the contracted involvement of New Century Media Ltd and the obscure funding chain routed via funds in Singapore and the Cayman Islands. When these strands come together they really do make a compelling case for refusing these licence variations without waiting for the Planning Inspectorate to act on behalf of another Secretary of State.

In conclusion, we request that you review the above and provide us with a more thoughtful response to our initial email but, if you disagree with our understanding of the legal position, would you kindly explain why that is?

Kind regards

Marianne Birkby on behalf of Radiation Free Lakeland / Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole


Photo by Sebastian Voortman on

Nuclear safety group Radiation Free Lakeland have asked for and been refused sight of the new conditional coal mine licence applications from West Cumbria Mining to the Coal Authority.  The controversial Irish Sea coal mine developers had originally been granted conditional exploration licences eight years ago over the heads of Cumbria County Council and the public, with no public scrutiny at all.  These have now lapsed and the developers have applied for new licences.

Radiation Free Lakeland have asked for sight of the licence applications from West Cumbria Mining.  The Coal Authority have refused sight of the licence applications based on two clauses in the Freedom of Information Act 2000: Section 43(2) Commercial Interests and Section 44(1)(a) Prohibition by Enactment.   

Campaigners say that there is no justification offered by the Coal Authority for the protection of the developers at the expense of public scrutiny into the new licence applications. 

“Your refusal does not begin to explain why the nature and extent of the requested variation needs to be protected in order not to prejudice WCM’s commercial interests.   You simply assert that it does”.   Radiation Free Lakeland

The nuclear safety campaigners state that information regarding the applications could have been released for public scrutiny in redacted form to protect “commercial interests.” However the campaigners go on to say that there are actually no other “commercial interests” interested in mining the high sulphur and high ash content coking coal as proposed by West Cumbria Mining.

The campaign group have asked the Coal Authority for an internal review into the refusal for sight of the developers’ new licence applications and have also asked that their original request should be dealt with under the Environmental Impact Regulations 2004 noting that where any information relates to an emission to the environment no commercial confidentiality can be claimed.  

The Coal Authority are denying any public scrutiny at all of what the developers have planned for Cumbria.  What can be seen raises alarm bells for example the plan to mine 1000m deeper than the deepest coal seams in the area nearest to Sellafield where there is, according to the British Geological Society, no known coal resource.

A new petition has just been launched asking that instead of protecting the developer’s “commercial interests” the Coal Authority should Block West Cumbria Mining’s Licence to Drill.   This decisive action to Block the Licences would put an end to a development that should have been blocked from the outset on the grounds of both climate and nuclear safety.