COUNCIL TO LOOK AGAIN AT COAL MINE PLAN! Well Done to Everyone who Has Written Asking for the Coal Mine Decision Notice Not to Be Rubber Stamped!

Cumbria County Council are to reconsider the Coal Mine Plan in the light of new information.

Here is our latest letter to Cumbria County Council asking them not to rubber stamp the Decision Notice. Thank You to Everyone who has written asking for more scrutiny. The date for the new Planning Meeting is yet to be confirmed – will keep you posted!

Dear Development Control and Regulation Committee,  Chairman and Secretary

I am writing to you again on behalf of Keep Cumbrian Coal, a Radiation Free Lakeland campaign. On this occasion I write to ask that you do not issue a Decision Notice for the Woodhouse Colliery application until your members have had the opportunity to take into account the significant developments that have occurred since they discussed the revised application. Your Committee decided not to reject the application. I put it this way because you will recall that the Secretary of State placed a holding instruction on the Council which prevented approval being granted. This instruction was removed on the 6 January 2021, as you know, and has not been reapplied despite pressure to do so. The Council is therefore now free to decide the application.

In the intervening time since you decided not to reject the application but were minded to approve it there have been significant events that should be taken into account:

  • Climate Change Committee’s advice on the 6th Carbon Budget
  • Coal Authority lapse of approval for any further onshore and offshore exploration.
  • Sellafield’s lack of taking responsibility for radioactive wastes on the seabed directly above the coal mine
  • New Awareness of Lack of testing by the British Geological Society (hydrology/geology/seismicity)
  • Awareness of Appointments of West Cumbria Mining Executives to public bodies Radioactive Waste Management and Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (two public bodies reporting to Dept of Business Energy and Industrial Strategy)
  • Awareness of Cumbrian Heritage and Land sold for £1

6th Carbon Budget

A Letter has been sent from Lord Deben, Chairman of the Climate Change Committee (CCC) to Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government about the decision not to call in, or review, the recent decision of Cumbria County Council to grant planning permission to a new Cumbrian coal mine saying that ” The mine is projected to increase UK emissions by 0.4Mt CO2e per year. This is greater than the level of annual emissions we have projected from all open UK coal mines to 2050.” We have written to the Committee asking that they also write to their parent Dept of Business Energy and Industrial Strategy urging BEIS not to issue new Coal Authority Licences for Cumbria. Furthermore, on 9 December 2020,  the CCC recommended CO2 emissions to be cut by 78% between 1990 and 2035, which would in effect bring forward the UK’s previous 80% target by nearly 15 years.

Coal Authority LIcences (CA report to BEIS)

The original Coal Authority licenses were given to Riverside Energy and then West Cumbria Mining over and above the heads of councillors and the public in 2013/14. The original licences for WCM ran for five years with an extension of 3 years. Two of the three have effectively now lapsed and West Cumbria Mining have applied for an extension of those conditional licenses. The lapsed licenses have been temporarily extended pending the Coal Authority’s consideration of the application, but meanwhile any works under those licences is prohibited. Under the original licence many miles of exploratory boreholes were drilled and a methane gas pocket was accidentally hit under the Irish Sea off St Bees necessitating the call out of the Irish Coast Guard.

Lack of Testing/Scrutiny by British Geological Society

The British Geological Society informed us in August 2020 that they have not carried out any hydrological surveys despite much of West Cumbria’s drinking water being drawn from boreholes in South Egremont a few miles away. We are mindful that the BGS gave a clean bill of health to arsenic contaminated water in Bangladesh which resulted in the biggest poisoning event in history and is still ongoing today. Also of concern is the BGS signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with Radioactive Waste Management/CoRWM who have appointed at least one former executive and one current executive from West Cumbria Mining to facilitating Geological Disposal. We consider this a conflict of interest.

Responsibility for the Safety of Radioactive Wastes on the Irish Sea Bed

The Chief Executive Officer of WCM has stated that ‘the mine has nothing to do with nuclear waste’ despite the mine being situated beneath decades of Sellafield’s discharges. When it comes to taking responsibility for damage to health and environment coal mining companies are almost as notorious for evasion as the nuclear industry. We have tried repeatedly to find out just who is responsible for the undiluted and largely undispersed radioactive wastes on the Irish Sea bed. These wastes should not be disturbed and resuspended by, as WCM say “expected” subsidence.. Sellafield have refused to admit responsibility for the radioactive wastes on the seabed merely restating their commitment to “monitoring”. We endorse the call by the Nuclear Free Local Authorities for the Decision Notice not to be issued until this issue of responsibility has been addressed. We have put in an official complaint to the Information Commissioner.

The former leader of Cumbria County Council Eddie Martin has this week raised concerns with us about the links between the coal mine developers and the plan for a geological disposal facility in the Irish Sea area adjacent to the coal mine.

He has said: “Clearly the mine is a precursor to a GDF”

This statement is evidence based. Following the County Council’s 31st Oct 2019 meeting at which the first WCM application was approved (pending 106 agreements and Decision Notice), the Chief Executive Officer of West Cumbria Mining was appointed to the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management. This appointment was just days after the Council’s approval of WCM’s planning application. As well as the appointment of Mark Kirkbride to CoRWM, the former Head of Operations of WCM Steve Reece is now the Site Selection Manager at Radioactive Waste Management.

We are extremely concerned at the lack of transparency of governance in the appointments of executives of West Cumbria Mining to public bodies facilitating Geological Disposal despite those same executives being party to the most controversial coal mine development in the UK. These public bodies of CoRWM and RWM report directly and indirectly (RWM reports to NDA) to the Department of Business Energy and Industrial Strategy. The same Department BEIS is also responsible for the public body issuing Coal Authority licenses who first issued WCM (originally Riverside) with a license to drill over the heads of councillors and the public in 2013/14. 

Haig Mining Museum and Land bought for £1

The narrative WCM and its supporters like to present is one of a financial boon to West Cumbria. It is no secret that mine companies use administration or bankruptcy laws to avoid paying out on health damage, remediation or just to consolidate their assets and the CEO of WCM has a track record of this legal but unethical practice. It has not been widely reported that West Cumbria Mining have already fleeced West Cumbria of its publicly owned Heritage Lottery Funded Haig Mining Museum and lands. WCM waited until the planning application was secured before offering £1 for the land and buildings and £39,000 for the historically important and valuable fixtures and fittings in the visitor centre and powerhouse. Following this “purchase” WCM put in place the paperwork to ensure that when the developers go into administration to divest/regroup – the Haig Museum, land and assets would not go to creditors but to unknown persons via EMR Capital. Competition rules apparently did not apply in the WCM “purchase” of West Cumbria Minings valuable heritage and land whose actual value runs into £Millions, now lost forever to EMR Capital’s initial backers. Radiation Free Lakeland whose membership includes some with expertise in Industrial Heritage, Interpretation, Museums and Conservation would have liked the opportunity to have offered far more than £1. That opportunity was not given to anyone as the plan to hand over publicly owned heritage to WCM was as far as we know not made public. Another “buyer” could have kept the heritage and museum intact and publicly available, offering a social hub and adding to the intrinsic value of the Heritage Coast. That the Heritage Lottery Funded Museum and extensive Land has now been sold for far less than a mess of pottage to venture capitalists under the homely guise of a ‘local coal mine’ is an unreported national scandal. (19 Feb 2020 Return of final meeting in a creditors’ voluntary winding up )

We are grateful that Cumbria County Councillors are scrupulous about declaring conflicts of interest. However, the vested interests surrounding this coal mine are raising huge concerns such as that voiced to us by the former leader of Cumbria County Council Eddie Martin. ““Clearly the mine is a precursor to a GDF”

We urge the Development Control and Regulation Committee to take control of this spiral of corruption of governance and refuse to issue a Decision Notice for this Development in the most transparent way possible. That is to put this application on the first available meeting, air the issues once more and to follow the example of leading councillors in refusing the application.

yours sincerely

Marianne Birkby

On behalf of Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole (a Radiation Free Lakeland campaign)

Radiation Free Lakeland

Campaigns :  

Lakes Against Nuclear Dump

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole


6th Climate Budget     note the Climate Change Committee is appointed by BEIS who awarded West Cumbria Mining Coal Authority conditional license in 2013/14

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

Steve Reece WCM/RWM

Mark Kirkbride WCM/CoRWM

Mark Kirkbride 

Above extract 

19 Feb 2020Return of final meeting in a creditors’ voluntary winding up

West Cumbria Mining 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

2 thoughts on “COUNCIL TO LOOK AGAIN AT COAL MINE PLAN! Well Done to Everyone who Has Written Asking for the Coal Mine Decision Notice Not to Be Rubber Stamped!

  1. Pingback: West Cumbria Mining Pay £1 to Aquire £1.6 Million of Heritage Lottery Funded Mine Museum and Lands – Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole

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