Whitehaven Harbour Runs Red with Mine Water Pollution While Coal Mine Boss Gloats About “Multimillion pound Funding” for New Deep Mine (coal – the nuclear dump next door- unless!)

Chris Packham was filming in Whitehaven today – I wonder if he mentioned any of this?

Sent today…

An Open Letter to the Coal Authority (an executive non-departmental public body, sponsored by the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero). and the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO)

Dear Coal Authority and Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office,

The first deep coal mine in the UK in 30 years announced on May 16th that “we have now successfully closed out a new multimillion pound funding package” What they fail to reveal is where the “multimillion pound” investment is coming from. The initial millions largely spent on public relations and investigative boreholes came from EMR Capital whose owner Owen Hegarty is now a director of West Cumbria Mining. Owen Hegarty also has coal mines in Siberia which have been bankrolled to the tune of tens of millions of pounds both by the Russian State and by Russian equity bank Baring Vostok whose investors have just left prison in Russia after fraud sentences. This all begs the question given the UK Government’s current war footing with Russia why hasn’t the Foreign Office stepped in to investigate West Cumbria Mining’s clear links with Russian State investment through Owen Hegarty?

West Cumbria Mining’s update also fails to mention that their conditional licence from the Coal Authority lapsed in October 2022. The Coal Authority have told us that they have not received a new licence application. The fact that the Coal Authority are even considering giving a new licence to drill to West Cumbria Mining is breathtaking given that the House of Lords called for a ban on any new licences being issued for coal mines. The Coal Authority is also now tasked with looking into the ongoing and seemingly unstoppable pollution pouring into Whitehaven harbour from historic mines which have been newly activated by disturbance. West Cumbria Mining’s extensive borehole and water flushing investigations above Whitehaven cannot be ruled out in part or in whole as a catalyst for Whitehaven Harbour running red with a toxic burden of metals and other pollutants. The honeycomb of mines in Whitehaven includes the Anhydrite mine which West Cumbria Mining wanted to dewater of its uranium, acids and metal contaminated water in order to use this as access to the sub-sea area off Whitehaven. The Environment Agency said this would be too dangerous to marine life. Another bizarre twist in the tale is that the coal mine CEO who wanted to dangerously dewater the old Anhydrite mine into the Irish Sea is also tasked (by the same government department who sponsor the Coal Authority) with advising Government on investigation techniques, construction and costings for a sub-sea nuclear dump euphemistically called a Geological Disposal Facility. This investigation includes seismic blasting of the Irish Sea which has already taken place over the heads of the public despite a petition of over 50,000 signatures.

We urge the Foreign Office to fully investigate West Cumbria Mining’s Russian connections through EMR Capital and Owen Hegarty.

We urge the Coal Authority to honour the House of Lords call for a ban on any new coal mine licences being issued in the UK. That an earthquake inducing new coal mine should have even been considered so close to Sellafield is utterly reckless with public safety – this could put climate concerns on the back foot.

We urge an inquiry into the dark cronyism surrounding the appointment of the CEO of West Cumbria Mining, Mark Kirkbride, to the position of Government advisor on Geological Disposal of High Level Nuclear Wastes, his coal mine lies between the nuclear dump target areas of Mid Copeland and Allerdale.

Yours sincerely

Marianne Birkby

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole – a Radiation Free Lakeland campaign.

WCM May Updatehttps://www.westcumbriamining.com/wcm-website-news-update-may-2023/

Owen Hegarty new director of WCM https://www.extractiveindustries.co.uk/west-cumbria-mining-appoints-owen-hegarty-as-director/

Funder and now Director of WCM Owen Hegarty Bankrolled by Russian State and Baring Vostok https://www.smh.com.au/business/russians-take-a-large-slice-of-tigers-realm-coal-20140323-35bkq.html

Baring Vostok Fraud Sentences https://www.themoscowtimes.com/2023/03/24/baring-vostok-investors-leave-russia-after-fraud-sentences-expire-a80603

Calls by the House of Lords to ban any new licences being awarded to West Cumbria Mining.


Mark Kirbride Government Nuclear Dump advisor https://www.gov.uk/government/people/mark-kirkbridg



A Quarter of a Century Ago NIREX was Refused Its “Rock Characterisation Facility” For Low to Intermediate Level Radioactive Wastes on the Lake District Coast – Now the Nuclear Industry Thinks It Can Get Away With Dumping Far Hotter Wastes Because Cumbria Has a Short Memory?

A week to tell Government to Stop its Nuclear Dump plans (you know, the one planned next to the coal mine whose boss is advising Govnt on the nuclear dump)


Poster Against the 1990s NIREX plan for a Rock Laboratory to test the geology for deep dumping of low to intermediate level radioactive waste – now in a vicious mission creep the plan is Much Worse and Government and Nuclear Industry are ALREADY on with the rock characterisation over the heads of the public. It doesn’t matter how much more the rock is “characterised” in this area which has seen more rock characterisation than any other part of the UK – the rock is complex and faulted – and even if it was homogenous granite 25km square and 1000 metres deep (it isn’t) then dumping hot radioactive wastes beneath the ground would still be too dangerous.

Folks in Lincolnshire are rightly up in arms about the plan to use them as a dangerous nuclear dumping ground – parish and district elections have seen anti-nuclear dump candidates sweep the board. Meanwhile…

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Tell Government to Dump the Planned Nuclear Dump (next to the coal mine whose boss is advising Govnt on the Nuclear Dump)

Beyond Time To Get Off the Nukiller Ride (photo credit: Wendelin Jacober) Please write with your objection to the Government plan to dump very HOT High Level Radioactive wastes under the seabed – Intermediate Level wastes under the Coastline and generally looking for any which way to get shot of nuclear wastes in order to […]

Two Weeks to Stop the Dump and Tell UK Government To Get the Hell Off the Nukiller Ride — RADIATION FREE LAKELAND

Tell UK Government STOP Undersea Nuclear Dump NOW!


Radiation Free Lakeland have just put together a reply to the Government’s consultation on the nuclear dump plans. You don’t have to write a long reply to all their (loaded) questions. The main thing is to say that the GDF and Near Surface plans are too dangerous and that the Government should think again. Please do use the below for inspiration for your own replies to the consultation which can be found here https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/managing-radioactive-substances-and-nuclear-decommissioning

Your reply does not need to be long – even a sentence or two explaining why the Government should halt GDF plans would be good – Email your reply to the consultation here: RSNDPolConsult@beis.gov.uk

Managing radioactive substances and nuclear decommissioning

Consultation by: Department for Energy Security and Net Zero

Published 1 March 2023

Notes from Radiation Free Lakeland sent by email to:


3rd May 2023

(address supplied)

Radiation Free Lakeland are a volunteer civil society…

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Many thanks to Ecohustler for exposing the Government sponsored cronyism between the coal mine boss and the nuclear dump plan.

What happens to the UK’s nuclear waste?

Article by:

Full Article can be read here https://ecohustler.com/technology/what-happens-to-the-uks-nuclear-waste


“Coal consipracy?

It gets worse. The community I am describing is in West Cumbria. Many of you will know of plans to open a new coal mine there. We have heard the arguments that it is for coking coal and that we need it for the steel industry or otherwise we’ll have to import it, stated to be the unsustainable option. The pro’s love to pull this sustainability argument out of the hat; they think they sound so green.

Now, did you know that the CEO of West Cumbria Mining is none other than the same guy the Government has appointed to be its chief advisor on dumping nuclear waste? Something stinks, doesn’t it? His name is Mark Kirkbride. The two areas in Cumbria assigned for the nuclear waste dump are absolutely adjacent to the proposed under the sea coal mine. And this is a deep coal mine, prone to worse earthquakes than fracking. I have checked major news outlets for linking the new coal mine approval with nuclear waste dumping but cannot find one item.”

The CEO of West Cumbria Mining is providing advice to Govnt on “investigation techniques” including seismic blasting and deep boreholes for a deep nuclear dump next to his coal mine.

Press Release sent off this morning

Calls for Halt into Nuclear Waste Service’s Seismic Blasting Following Marine Deaths



25th April 2023

photo credit: Ian Finlinson



Marine Deaths of harbour porpoise, dolphin, pilot whale, seals and other protected species following last August’s seismic blasting looking at the geology of the Irish Sea for a deep sub-sea nuclear dump have prompted calls for a halt and an investigation.

A legal challenge has been threatened by campaigners against further seismic blasting in the search areas which include the Irish Sea and Allerdale’s Solway Firth area. The Copeland seismic blasting went ahead for 20 days from the 1st August 2022 despite a petiton of over 50,000 signatures. The testing of the Copeland Irish Sea area centred off Sellafield was contracted by Nuclear Waste Services in their quest to find a place to dispose of high level nuclear wastes in a Geological Disposal Facility.

Environmental Lawyers Leigh Day acting for Lakes Against Nuclear Dump, a Radiation Free Lakeland campaign have now written to the Environment Secretary Thérèse Coffey and to the Marine Management Organisation.

The letter includes an Appendix of “Events” beginning with strandings of protected species including dead seals and harbour porpoise at Drigg on the 8th August and includes deaths of dolphin, pilot whale and jellyfish (food for protected turtle species).

The letter highlights that Nuclear Waste Services assured the Marine Management Organisation that testing would be carried out in July to mitigate disturbance to marine species and this was the basis for approval : “The Applicant (NWS) is proposing to undertake the survey in July and has clearly stated that regardless of weather conditions, the survey will only take place during this month, over a maximum period of 20 days.” Similar conclusions were reached by the Centre for Environment Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) in respect of the impact of underwater noise on marine wildlife.

Marianne Birkby of Lakes Against Nuclear Dump said “as well as the reckless timing of the seismic blasting, the blasts of sound from the airguns were every 5 seconds rather than 10 seconds (as for oil,gas and wind exploration). This would have been an intolerable wall of deafening sound for Irish Sea marine life over 20 days. We are urging an investigation into the deaths of marine species following NWS seismic blasting and call for a halt into further NWS contracts for “investigation.”

The Leigh Day letter concludes with:


  1. We are extremely concerned that the Survey may have been causative (at least in part) of the Events, given:
  • the Events happened immediately after the Survey and in exactly the same geographical area; and
  • NWS was aware that the Survey was likely to disturb exactly the same species that were killed as part of the Events (namely common dolphin, harbour porpoise and whale).
  1. Consequently, we ask for the following urgent confirmation, namely that:
  • the Secretary of State will immediately initiate an investigation into the Events (the “Investigation”);
  • the MMO will issue a stop notice prohibiting any future survey activities by the NWS relating to the siting process for a GDF, pending the outcome of the Investigation and/or the NWS obtaining a marine licence for those activities.

Further request for information

  1. In view of the circumstances and duties outlined above, and the reported Events contained in Annex 1, please explain (in addition to answering the questions in bold above):
  2. What steps the Secretary of State and/or Marine Management Organisation are taking to investigate the Events;
  3. What monitoring arrangements the Secretary of State has made to satisfy its duties under reg.50, 52 and 53 of the Habitats Regulations and how these have been actioned in relation to the Events;
  4. What steps the MMO has undertaken to assure itself that the EPSL for the Survey, including any conditions placed on it, has been complied with;
  5. What steps have been, or are being, taken to confirm whether the number of deaths of animals linked to the Events has affected, or has the potential to affect, the population levels, and therefore, favourable conservation status of any protected species; and
  6. What, if any, further consultations or assessments the MMO or Secretary of State has carried out in order to reassure themselves that the impacts of the Survey period changing from July to August 2022 would not affect species at a favourable conservation status.
  7. Please also provide:

i. A copy of any reports, published as per the MMO’s duties under reg.55(15) and (16),

which specifies the supervisory conditions taken to check that the required conditions of the EPSL for the Survey have been complied with, any monitoring that has been carried

out of compliance with the conditions of the licence, and the results of any monitoring;

  1. A copy of any documents demonstrating the MMO’s decision not to include all the EPSL conditions recommended by Natural England;
  2. A copy of any records kept during the Survey, including (but not limited to) the marine mammal recording form as per the Guidance;
  3. All data you hold on similar strandings to the Events which have occurred in the last 10 years in the same geographical area as the area in which the NWS is carrying out surveys in relation to the siting process for a GDF;
  4. A copy of annual reports published by CSIP since 2018;
  5. Details (including time, location and any related documentation) of any upcoming surveys the NWS proposes to undertake in relation to the siting process for a GDF; and
  6. Any documents evidencing how the UK is implementing the aims of ASCOBAN.

Next steps

  1. If you do not provide a satisfactory response by the requested deadline, we will advise our client on whether to send a formal pre-action protocol letter for judicial review.



Leigh Day Letter and Appendix Listing Events – attached




Seismic testing for nuclear disposal risks harming marine life by Charlie Jaay https://environmentjournal.online/articles/feature-seismic-testing-for-nuclear-disposal-risks-killing-marine-life/

UK Gov News – Marine Geophysical Survey Successfully Completed https://www.gov.uk/government/news/update-nws-marine-geophysical-survey-successfully-complete:

Extinction Rebellion – why I am not going to take up Chris Packham’s demand that “everyone should join”.

This exchange below is just a small example of the conversations with Extinction Rebellion regarding the Cumbria coal mine and the proximity to Sellafield. XR climate focussed folk here in Cumbria went from ignoring the coal mine and endless attempts to engage with them : “we are too busy fighting fracking” “we don’t know enough about it” “No NGOs are fighting it so it can’t be that bad”. Then when finally engaging XR railroaded the nuclear impacts of the coal mine away from public consciousness with a seemingly complicit media.

So, Sorry Chris – I won’t be joining XR. If it sounds like sour grapes – it isn’t – it is a truthful consequence of experience lived. There are people who are totally invested in XR who I really like and respect a lot but as an organisation its amorphous messaging (and its many spin offs) feels off to me . The fact that pro-nuclear zealots like George Monbiot, Mark Lynas, James Hansen etc are held up as XR gurus seals the deal of XR wrongness. XR look at everything through the distorting prism of climate – even war – blimey – if only we could make war more climate friendly the world would be a much safer place!

Below is an actual screenshot of an exchange in November 2019 on an XR facebook site- the legal fight I was asking for support for (any support) was taken on in my name and ultimately at own risk because at that time no-one else would, not even those with resources like XR, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth or South Lakes Action on Climate Change – and it was the only legal challenge against the coal mine to have gained the approval of a High Court judge to go forward. The reason it didn’t go forward is because West Cumbria Mining circumvented the legal challenge by changing their planning application making it essentially a new development. With the support of many folk donating to the legal fund we did significantly delay the plan. We continue to fight the earthquake inducing mine near Sellafield which is bankrolled by a director, Owen Hegarty, who is bankrolled by Russia and whose CEO is advising the UK Government on the dumping of nuclear waste beneath the Irish Sea directly next to his coal mine. None of these issues are flagged by mainstream NGOs. The UK government must be laughing their socks off at the myopic focus on climate over this coal mine. Will the good folk dancing to the XR party in the streets of London continue to follow the tune laid out for them by XR (which suits our government fine) or make their own music?

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole Write a Letter to Michael Gove MP, former Communities Secretary of State – July 13th 2022

July 2022 – the ongoing Wastwater Chronicles …

Wastwater Chronicles

A letter from Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole 13th July 2022

Dear Michael Gove MP,

It was baffling to see that in amongst all the resignations from Boris Johnson’s government there was only one sacking. The sacking of yourself, Communities Secretary, due to give a verdict on the Cumbria Coal Mine on 7th July, the very next day. Now Postponed.

As the first group to oppose the coal mine back in 2017 we see your sacking in a different light to climate focused groups, given your achievements in establishing Marine Conservation Zones while you were Environment Secretary.

3 Million tonnes of coal a year would be hauled beneath the M.C.Z causing “likely” subsidence and resuspension (into the water column) of decades of Sellafield’s discharges on the Irish Sea bed. To add insult to injury the coal boss is advising Government on digging a big hole for sub-sea burial of…

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Coal Authority Asked to Provide Evidence that WCM’s Activities Have Had Zero Impact on Local Geological Conditions in Whitehaven Area.

Polluted water continues to flow into Whitehaven Harbour. A letter has been sent today through Tim Farron MP to the Coal Authority and asks for evidence that WCM’s activities have had no impact on geological conditions. Also asks for notification of and sight of West Cumbria Minings renewed licence application. Their Coal Authority licence to drill expired in October 2022.

image – Painting of Whitehaven by Matthias Read 1730s. WCM’s boreholes on land are on the hill behind Whitehaven extending hundreds of feet down below sea level -more detailed view of painting here https://www.bl.uk/picturing-places/articles/the-view-from-brackenthwaite-matthias-reads-whitehaven-prospects

Dear Tim,

Thank you for the letter recieved from the Coal Authority (pasted below). Given that the Coal Authority say that in issuing new licenses they “are not able to take unrelated matters into account” please could you ask them to provide us with the following:

a) Full documentary evidence that West Cumbria Mining’s extensive borehole investigations on land and sea have not adversely impacted existing geology in the coastal area of Whitehaven.

b) Notification of When the new licence application/s is received by the Coal Authority from West Cumbria Mining (Whitehaven South Prospect Onshore Area) and Sight of that licence application. I understand if financial information has to be redacted for commercial reasons but sight of the renewed licence application by West Cumbria Mining is in the public interest.

Thank you very much for pursuing this.


Latest Correspondence from the Coal Authority below

22 March 2023

Dear Mr Farron,

Re: West Cumbria Mining and Whitehaven Harbour

Thank you for your email of 9 March 2023 raising further points on behalf of your constituent Marianne Bennett.

I’m sorry that I can’t add much more information than I have in my response of 14 February 2023. In that letter I advised that the chemistry of the discoloured water discharging into the harbour shows that it is not coming from the local historic coal mine workings.

It makes sense that the independent consultant water sampling shows high metal levels and water consistent with that which has had contact with coal / minerals and I understand that this is consistent with the monitoring undertaken by the Environment Agency. Whilst orange / metal contaminated water can come from mines they are not the only cause.

There is significant coal- related geology in the local area which has not been mined. Any water running through the coal (in a tunnel, drain or similar) may pick up metals and colour and cause this type of discolouration. We have supported the Environment Agency, Copeland Council and other partners from the start of this incident to determine whether mine water was the cause and then to use our expertise to support the wider investigation.

We manage 76 mine water treatment schemes across Great Britain and treat more than 128 billion litres of mine water each year to protect drinking water, rivers and the sea. If the evidence showed that the Whitehaven Harbour pollution was being caused by local historic mine workings we would take action. We have shared your email with Mike Starkie, Mayor of Copeland, who is leading this water quality investigation and with Peter Bardsley at the Environment Agency for their information. I would encourage you to send any future enquiries about the discolouration in Whitehaven Harbour to them directly. I shared their contact details in my previous responses.

Any licence application we receive has to be considered and processed in line with coal mining policy (set by UK Government) and the legislation we operate under – the 1994 Coal Industry Act. We are not able to take unrelated matters into account. If you would like to discuss this, or any of our work in your constituency further in the meantime we would be very happy to meet at this site, in your constituency office, in Westminster or virtually as suits you best.

Yours sincerely, Lisa Pinney MBE Chief Executive, Coal Authority

Radio 4 ANY QUESTIONS – Coal Mine

I caught part of the Any Questions and Any Answers Radio 4 programme yesterday. Trudy Harrison MP extolled the virtues of “sustainable” nuclear and said that the equally “clean” Cumbria coal mine would mean we could cut out reliance on Russian imports of coal to Europe. The programme also talked about water quality in rivers and sea.

I rang the programme up and managed to speak to the researcher. I explained that the coal mine, Russia and water quality issues actually meet in Whitehaven where with incredible timing of the Government’s approval of the coal mine in December the waters in Whitehaven harbour turned red with huge amounts of iron and other metals most likely from newly sprung cracks in the honeycomb of existing pits along the Whitehaven coast. Regarding cutting out Russian coal, the newly appointed director of the Cumbria coal mine is Owen Hegarty whose Siberian coal mine has been bankrolled by the Russian government to the tune of £millions. What I didn’t say is that, the War Game in Ukraine with the UK sending depleted uranium tipped military hardware aiming to ‘destroy’ Russia and Putin is just that, an insane and suicidal War Game. Meanwhile the UK Foreign Office turns a blind eye to Russian involvement in Owen Hegarty’s Russian bankrolled mining empire now with its claws in Cumbria.

The researcher said that was interesting and they might get back to me for the Any Answers – they didn’t.

Good that some people did manage to call in and expose the other lies that nuclear is “sustainable” .