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



“HUGE” Pollution in Whitehaven Harbour Should Be Red Light for New Mining – Will it?

 Image: Pollution continues to pour into Whitehaven Harbour – campaigners wonder if this  mine water pollution would be tolerated with no end in sight in harbours in the Home Counties.

Sent to Press today….


Whitehaven Harbour Mine Water “Huge” Pollution is Red Flag for new West Cumbrian Coal Mine.

Campaigners are urging a halt to new coal mining plans and redoubled efforts to find and control the source of the pollution which has been pouring into Whitehaven Harbour at least since December 2022. 

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole, a Radiation Free Lakeland campaign have, with the help of Tim Farron MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale gained sight of the data from the Environment Agency samples taken in Whitehaven Harbour on December 20th 2022.  

Campaigners asked two independent experts for comment on the data.  Marine Pollution expert Tim Deere-Jones said that: “I’d be very confident in raising coal mining as the source…It would certainly be relevant to demand that the mine owners, Env Agency, MMO, NWS, DEFRA et’ al’ get on the case and identify exactly where the contaminated  water came from, boreholes? faults in the seabed geology? old mine workings on land? If they refuse or fudge, it would be legitimate to postulate “in the absence of empirical evidence to the contrary” that all three (especially faulting and boreholing) were possible causes, that the new coal mine plan should therefore be abandoned and that clearly any sub seabed GDF in the relevant coal field was clearly and very strongly contra-indicated.”

Dr Marco Kaltofen a US based environmental scientist with 30 years experience in environmental, workplace and product safety investigations has said: “no wonder it turned orange, those iron levels are H U G E. Cadmium, ammonia, and other metals (including nickel) are all elevated as well. They should have tested for arsenic and mercury too, especially given the elevated cadmium; but they did not. I strongly suggest having mercury and arsenic tested in the water. A separate sample of suspended solids should also be collected and tested for all of these parameters (plus radium, thorium and uranium) in addition to the water sample already done.

The original material was likely highly acidic, but would be neutralized once it hits seawater.”

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole ask the following:

  1.  To reiterate our plea to the Coal Authority not to issue West Cumbria Mining with a licence to mine onshore at Whitehaven
  2. To remove Mayor Mike Starkie as the lead investigator into the harbour pollution. Mayor Starkie has vested interests in directing investigations away from the existing impacts of West Cumbria Mining’s borehole investigations and future impacts of mass void removal (for coal and nuclear waste) in the Whitehaven area.
  3. Dr Kaltofen strongly suggests having mercury and arsenic tested in the water as well as a separate sample of suspended solids collected and tested for all of these parameters plus radium, thorium and uranium.
  4. Allonby Bay has just been chosen by The Rt Hon Dr Thérèse Coffey, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs,as one of only three Highly Protected Marine Areas in the UK. These sites will be designated before 6th July 2023. The intention of the HPMA is to allow the marine environment to fully recover from any harmful activities. The HPMA at Allonby Bay has been established to complement the existing marine protected areas of which Whitehaven is one.   The contaminated water pouring into Whitehaven harbour water will have been polluting Allonby Bay just several miles away  since December.  Whitehaven itself is a Marine Conservation Zone.  Do these so called “Gold Star”  protections mean nothing? 

Tim Farron MP has listened to concerns and is “ pleased to confirm that I have written to the EA Manager for Cumbria concerning testing.  I have written again to the Chief Executive of the Coal Authority to forward the opinions you have received and I have written to the Secretary of State for DEFRA to urge her to investigate the efficacy of the Highly Protected Marine Area .”

Mine Water Pollution in Whitehaven Harbour is Red Flag for New Coal Mine.

Mine Water Pollution in Whitehaven Harbour is Red Flag for New Coal Mine.

Campaigners have sent a letter (10.2.23) to the Coal Authority via Cumbrian MP Tim Farron urging the Coal Authority not to renew West Cumbria Mining’s conditional licence for onshore mining which expired in October 2022.


Radiation Free Lakeland have opposed the coal mine since 2017 on a wide range of pollution issues including “geological and hydrological damage to an already vulnerable area in close proximity to the UKs nuclear waste stockpile at Sellafield”.

Approval of Coal Mine – Whitehaven Harbour Turns Red

Secretary of State, Michael Gove approved West Cumbria Mining’s coal mine plan on 7th December,  around the same time red mine water poured into Queens Dock, Whitehaven Harbour.  The authorities have not yet found the cause and mine water continues to flow into the harbour and on into the Irish Sea and Solway Firth.

The letter from Radiation Free Lakeland’s Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole campaign states:

“We understand that the Coal Authority are currently working with the Environment Agency and United Utilities to try to understand where the contaminated mine water pouring into the culvert in Queens Dock, Whitehaven is coming from.”

Honeycomb of Old Mines -West Cumbria Coast

Campaigners point out that: “The contaminated water could be coming from any one or more than one of the vulnerable honeycomb of old mines in the Whitehaven area.  Even if WCM’s exploratory testing is found not to be to blame for disturbance of the hydrology and geology it is surely prudent not to allow further mining in the area above Whitehaven which is very likely to impact the fragile geology of an already heavily mined coastal area.”  

The Planning Inspector Stephen Normington, a former coal miner himself admitted that induced earthquakes resulting from West Cumbria Mining’s activity “cannot be ruled out.”  


Campaigners warn that “The contaminated water pouring into the harbour is said by the Environment Agency to contain “metals” and our own citizen science test of the surface water’s ph at the far side of Queens Dock nearest the sea and furthest from the culvert, while the gates were open to the sea indicated that it is nowhere near the ph 8.1 that the surface harbour seawater should be.  The test indicated a ph of 6 or below.  This is veering towards acidic.  The pressures on the Marine Conservation Zones of the Irish Sea and Solway Firth are becoming intolerable, including damaging investigation techniques for a high level sub-sea nuclear dump for which the coal mine boss is, incredibly, a key advisor with the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management.”

Do Not Issue New Licence

Campaigners urge the Coal Authority not to issue a new conditional licence for West Cumbria Mining’s controversial and potentially already polluting Onshore Whitehaven South Prospect.  

Additional Notes and References:

West Cumbria Mining -Whitehaven South Prospect conditional licence https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1085211/Whitehaven_South_Prospect_-_CA11.UND.0177.N.pdf

Coal Authority and Mine Water Discharge

[F14APower of the Authority with respect to coal mine water discharge

(1)The Authority may take such action as it considers appropriate (if any) for the purpose of preventing, or mitigating the effect of, the discharge of water from a coal mine into or on to any land or into any controlled waters.

(2)In this section and sections 4B [F2 , 4C and 4CA] below—

(a)“controlled waters” has the meaning given by section 104 of the Water Resources Act 1991; and

(b)references to coal mines are to coal mines vested in the Authority.]


Honeycomb of coal mines in Whitehaven area https://thebeacon-whitehaven.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/CMG9-Coal-mines-in-the-Whitehaven-area-collieries-plotted-on-map.pdf

Abandoned mines and the water environment – Environment Agency: “When the mines close, the pumps are switched off and the groundwater level rises until it reaches the surface or discharges into overlying aquifers. This may take a few months or many years. Flooding of the exposed seams stops the oxidation of the sulphide minerals, but dissolves the metal ions and sulphates to form sulphuric acid.” https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/291482/LIT_8879_df7d5c.pdf

Radon in minewater https://www.researchgate.net/publication/343483994_Radon_Hazard_Assessment_in_Region_with_Intense_Coal_Mining_Industry

Its Grime Up North

The following blog post is by What Lies Beneath Rattlechain Lagoon from 2017 and is reposted here with their kind permission. The article is a deep dive into the Marchon site and the Anhydrite Mine that West Cumbria Mining wanted to dewater in order to use as the route into the proposed coal mine under the Irish Sea. The Environment Agency objected to that plan of dewatering the Anhydrite mine into the Irish Sea as the mine water is extremely toxic. So WCM said they would go above the Anhydrite Mine drift tunnels instead of through to get around their dewatering problem. However WCM HAVE carried out extensive borehole explorations to test the hydrology and geology and who knows what impacts that has had on the honeycomb of mines below Whitehaven – including the acid producing Anhydrite mine. Although it is kept under wraps one of the biggest users of acids is the nuclear industry. The tanker of nitric acid that overturned last year on country roads was heading to Sellafield but not one mainstream media outlet shared that fact with the public.

It’s GRIME up North!

Posted on February 14, 2017 by swanny

Albright and Wilson’s stench extended beyond Oldbury in the West Midlands to up North in the coastal area of Whitehaven. The chemical firm Marchon Products Limited had been based in the town for many years producing raw materials for detergents, and then expanding onto a disused tar plant before “the Quakers” took over there in 1955 and made it a subsidiary producing the detergent raw material STTP- Sodium  Tripolyphosphate. Solway Chemicals Limited, another subsidiary were also producing sulphuric acid from this year from a plant next to the Marchon site. Their main concerns were liquid fertilisers and sodium laurel sulphate- a toothpaste foaming agent.

STTP needed phosphoric acid as an essential agent, produced by “the wet process”. This method is outlined from a 1955 Albright and Wilson publication “The manufacture and uses of phosphorus.”

A £5 million sulphuric acid plant extension completed in 1967 made Albright and Wilson the producer of one tenth of the UK’s total sulphuric acid output. 1968 saw the start up of a new wet phosphoric acid plant at Marchon, replacing the two previous ones. Levels of chemcials produced at the site are reported to have been 350,000 tons per annum of Sulphuric acid, 350,000 tons of cement, 165,000 tons phosphoric acid and 170,000 of STTP.

Whitehaven harbour was utilised to deliver raw materials using specially built vessels, which finally ceased in 1992.

But around the late 1960’s with AW’s disastrous loss making Long Harbour venture, the rot appeared to begin to set in for Marchon works as a site. In particular the environmental issues associated with other Albright and Wilson sites began to show a familiar pattern.

Pollution grime

Pollution from this large site appeared like a sore pimple from an outpouring of froth associated with the phosphate manufacture into the Irish Sea. More dangerous were heavy metal laden effluent from the phosphate rock impurities. For many years it had been a source of constant complaint from residents yet Albright and Wilson batted these away as it always did with talk of “jobs being put at risk” and claims it met allowed consents- all the same bullshit they also used when complaints were made about their Oldbury activities.

One of the most infamous associations with this site is the ground breaking prosecution of the company by Greenpeace– at a time when they were a genuine pollution busting environmental charity and not devoted to the pet cause of a failed US presidential candidate.

In 1990 they successfully took Albright and Wilson to court, winning a private prosecution brought under the new Water Act 1989. Whitehaven magistrates fined them a poultry £2000 and greenpeace costs awarded of £20,000.

But Albright and Wilson were always a company in total denial about their disgusting environmental record and the following whinging, whining trite garbage is what they published in Albright World at the time, desperately attempting to convince their workforce that Greenpeace were in the wrong and that these environmental assassins were trying to close the plant down when they attempted to block the discharge pipe into the

The comments made by works director in this article are utterly delusional, “We believe the sample taken was not representative of our normal discharge” he wailed, with “profound knowledge” ,appearing to blindly believe that any transgression of the law should not apply to them. We also get those invented no/low risk “calculations” of theirs, which we have also recently seen offered by Rhodia in their defence of a white phosphorus/phosphine factory fire which were not accepted by the Health and Safety Executive.

We have a similar airbrushed version of events offered by Hugh Podger in his “Albright and Wilson The Last 50 years” and “Marchon The Whitehaven Chemical works by Alan Routledge.” The latter book is fine if you enjoy black and white photos of machinery and people standing in front of them viewed through rose tinted glasses, but the garish reality of long standing environmental pollution is not part of the colour scheme.

When Greenpeace later blocked the pipe discharging the grime into the sea, they were totally justified in doing so, and if I had been around then knowing what I do now about this firms activities, then I would have joined them to happily be arrested for taking a stand.

When challenged on their environmental record, Albright and Wilson and then Rhodia, basically the very same people, consistently were in denial about their activities being harmful and their blind arrogance as “scientists” believed they knew better than anyone else.

An excellent account of the general air pollution coming out of Whitehaven around this time is documented in a Guardian article from 1988, which is archived on the Fluoride Action Network website. It is entitled “a host of roasted daffodils” and details how plants were turned to dust by the factory emissions, as well as the longstanding human health risks which are still there and will be for many decades.

“Marchon is licensed by the North West Water Authority to pour 93 tonnes of uranium into the Irish Sea every year, as well as 27 tonnes of cadmium and 9.3 tonnes of arsenic. Tests carried out by Greenpeace show that the composition of radioactivity found in Whitehaven harbour precludes it being from Sellafield. For five years now, scientists have claimed that cadmium has been a cause of genetic damage. Large doses can destroy cell manufacture and repair.”

“In April over 100 parents and schoolchildren suffered nausea and coughing when a cloud of sulphur dioxide acid leaked from the factory and descended on them as they were leaving nearby Kells infant school. In July, 200 cars in the factory carpark were pitted and stripped of paint after a second acid leak.”

All of this appears to be of a very similar story to the anecdotes of residents living around the Langley area, and also the denials of an operator who appeared to care little about the health concerns associated with the toxic chemicals which it produced. That it “provides jobs for the area” that would otherwise not be there appears to be the standard political shillers comment for justifying appalling and blind eye turning health and safety faux pas.

Of the manner in which it treated its workforce:

“Only relatively recently, local people have become determined to know more about the effects the plant is having on their health. But employees are frightened to speak out for fear of losing their jobs in an area of high unemployment.

One former employee said he found that childhood asthma returned when he began working in the factory’s acid plant. He says the company never admitted that his work was the cause of his disease, but equally it did not insist he return to his job. The man, who still wishes to remain anonymous despite having left, interpreted this as a sign that the company knew it would be difficult to deny his work was the cause. But there are constant denials by the company when the plant is blamed for ill health.”

What one can also take from this is the not uncommon observation concerning how Albright and Wilson treated its community with contempt from a resident who states in the article

“The medical profession has not been remarkably active in trying to identify the source of high asthma, foetal mortality, and genetic abnormality rates which have been found in and around the town. During the past five years rare syndromes have been found in babies born in Whitehaven and nearby Mirehouse. These diseases have led to either mental disorders, cleft palates, cysts, or facial abnormalities. There are also abnormal levels of severe spasticity, premature births, the transposition of body vessels, poor speech, and acute myloid leukaemia…..

….Sheila Smith, who runs the family advice centre in nearby Monkwray, said: ‘It’s the accountability which in some ways concerns me more than the pollution. The thing we have found quite amazing is that Albright and Wilson is a totally closed organisation.

‘Trying to get the company involved in the community is impossible. You just meet with closed doors. As a result, there’s an awful feeling of apathy and despair. The health authority also turns a blind eye, even though this part of the town has the highest death rate from heart disease among women in the northern region, and is among the worst for general health.’

One can perhaps see why after the Greenpeace incident and concerns like this, Albright and Wilson attempted a charm PR offensive with “open days“, which of course, were more like an advertisement for what they made than a factory tour of any real benefit to the put upon polluted.

Political grime.

As at their Oldbury headquarters in the West Midlands, it is apparent that Albright and Wilson at Whitehaven were well represented in political circles. The May/June 1986 edition of Albright World reported that the new mayor of Copeland- the borough in which the works sat, was an employee, and not only that but boasted that he was the fourth employee mayor of that pocket borough to hold the title!

There may well have been others that followed him, but how can anyone really believe that having top councillors onside- especially in matters relating to planning and environmental concerns was not likely to be a very beneficial arrangement for all concerned- with protecting the company polluter?

And then there is the former MP – John Cunningham- now “Baron Cunningham of Felling”. Between 1970-1983 he was MP for the Whitehaven constituency, which then became the Copeland constituency where he would serve another 22 years as the elected representative.  He deserves a special mention in how a political friend “who never worked for the company” was actually working for it for many years.

The following article appeared in Albright World, where the then fledgling Labourite was joined on a factory tour of the works by the useless former Prime Minister Jim Callaghan who held talks with union officials and managers- Orwell’s “man to pig and pig to man” comes to mind here .

“He told them that Dr Cunningham, who was his Parliamentary Private Secretary during Mr Callaghan’s government, was “constantly preaching about A+W’s virtues and is a very good advertisement for you”

With this type of ear to the top man, one wonders what the good doctor was actually diagnosing him with about the wretched company, but it is plain to see in the subsequent years that he persisted in this “advertisement” shillery for AW.

“Bottom’s up” champagne socialist

In 1980, he would go on to become a paid “industrial policy adviser” for Albright and Wilson, a title he held throughout his time as shadow environment secretary until he  became Minister for Agriculture, fisheries and food under the odious Blair administration. So back to pouring “advertisements” into the ear of the premier. Of course this would be short lived, as Albright and Wilson by now were  in terminal decline, so his advice cannot have been of much use in the 80’s 


With takeover assured, Rhodia did not waste much time in flogging off the Whitehaven site to “Huntsman”- another metamorphosising pillock of a chemical manufacturer. In June 2005, time was called on the entire site, as it shut down for good, with Rhodia diverting its operations abroad.

There are some interesting footnotes to the fallen polluting behemoth of Whitehaven available on the internet.

An excellent urban exploration of the way in which Albright and Wilson/Rhodia and its associates left the site before demolition, almost as though it was Chenobyl can be found HERE.  Another on the excellent 28 days later website gives a ghostly tour of the abandoned factory.

from 28 days later- a discarded map of the AW Whitehaven site

It is clear that this post apocalyptic scenario is one very familiar with Albright and Wilson and the manner in which it operated as a company- especially at its demise into the French hands of Rhodia.

Uncharacterised chemicals of all types and colours appear to be scattered everywhere mixing freely with mould alongside office equipment and personal identification tags serving as wafers in the toxic cream. How little the company must have valued the personal data protection of its staff to leave the site such as this!

freedom of information request from Sarah Turnbull in 2012 asks the following.

Clearly the Environment agency will be monitoring this area for many years to come  this, one of the many Albright’s bastards.

From the perspective of an ex worker at the site there is a rather whimsical ditty concerning the demise of the works at Whitehaven which can be found below, but it is somewhat unusual for the usually brainwashed ex workers of an Albright and Wilson company to be somewhat critical of both the employer and the union facilitating the destruction of the operation. It is quite clear that longstanding Marchon workers resent Albright and Wilson and Rhodia’s control of operations, as it began to unravel. Ultimately, with the type of chemicals that it made and which will no doubt persist for several decades, what one “couldn’t believe what they’d done” is how they managed to get away with it for so long.

And so to the inevitable talk of “regeneration” from toxic crap. We have this document entitled “West Whitehaven Draft Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) February 2012″, which can be read at the link below.


So when politicians are no longer able to spin their PR about jobs being vital from polluting industry, thus they like to play lego land and  still pretend that the toxic legacy does not appear by wanting to build “quality homes” on or near to contaminated land. We do however get the truth of the past in this document about this dirty polluting shambles of a chemical site too late from this self serving council, now that its chemical factory paymasters are no longer  there in situ.

“The public perception of the area locally is often poor due to the recent history of the industrial / chemical activities of the Marchon plant.  The environmental impacts of the production processes resulted in unpleasant odours, gas clouds, and residue deposits on cars and gardens, as well as ground water contamination leading to foam licks and radioactive deposits in the sea.  Visual impacts, noise and lighting pollution affected local residential amenity as did the heavy road traffic generated by the many tanker trips taking raw materials to the site from the harbour.”

Now when did Jack Cunningham and co ever admit to any of this at the time?

There is a parliamentary by-election in the Copeland constituency looming with the departure of Cunningham’s successor as MP there Jamie Reed who is taking up the position of  “head of development and community relations” at the Sellafield Nuclear plant in the area. One could strongly argue that this former PR man for the company never left the job during his time as an MP. Perhaps voters should look very closely at the cv’s of the candidates for any grimy links with longstanding pollution.

Read more at Rattlechain Lagoon

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: InquiryDocuments4@planninginspectorate.gov.uk

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.

‘Carbon Border Tax’ Report Author is Coal Mine Lobbyist



Old King Coal Dug a Great Big Hole 

and said:

No Worries, its Carbon Free.  

The Coal is for Steel

And we’ve made a Deal 

…….(to be continued)

THANK YOU to all who have donated to our legal fund so far. We will have some news very soon on the legal case..but for now just wanted to let you know the strange truth about a widely published new report making the case for a “carbon border tax.”

The report backing a “carbon border tax” sounds  just like the sort of thing green minded folk would welcome  However, there is more to this narrative than meets the eye.

Environmental Journalist Simon Pickstone has today written an excellent article in ENDS which exposes the fact that the “widely reported briefing making the case for a carbon border tax on imported goods, including on metallurgical coal, was written by a policy adviser for a company planning to construct the UK’s first new deep coal mine since the 1980s. The briefing, which received coverage in ENDS, the Scotsman and the Times, was published by the Centre for Policy Studies (CPS) and written by Tony Lodge, a research fellow for the influential free market think tank, which describes him as a “political and energy analyst.”

Yes thats right – Tony Lodge, author of the green sounding report on ‘carbon border tax’ also works as a political adviser for West Cumbria Mining.

It seems to us that Tony Lodge has been advocating for this ‘carbon border tax’ for many years.  He wrote a report back in 2012 for the Coalition government called the Atomic Clock which argued that the Coalition could have their ‘clean environmental’ credentials on the extreme energies of nuclear, shale gas and coal whilst still being able to eat their industrial cake…if only they went about carbon accounting and taxing in the right way.

Strange Times.

Support our Legal Fight Against a New Coal Mine in Cumbria


Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole.jpg

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole – demonstration back in 2017


Many groups including KCCH and individuals demonstrating outside Cumbria County Council offices on the day of ratification 31st October 2019

NEW – LEGAL CHALLENGE – We need your help. 

Check out the CrowdJustice page here – we have donated £50 already but- we need £5000 to take forward the Legal Challenge.  If you cannot donate then please do share and get the message out that this fight against the first deep coal mine in the UK in decades is far from over.

Thank you to Lawyers Leigh Day who have already put so much work into paving the way and ensuring a legal challenge is possible.

UPDATE: What a rollercoaster!  Firstly on 31st October we had an amazing demonstration of opposition outside Cumbria County Council offices with many groups and individuals taking part to show the strength of feeling against this coal mine.  This was despite the fact that we only found out last minute by accident about the ‘ratification’ meeting for the first deep coal mine in the UK in decades.  As you will have heard the committee again voted unanimously to pass the plans…shocking!  Then on the same day as the much publicised announcement on the halt to fracking there was a much more subdued announcement that the Secretary of State will not call in Cumbria County Council’s outrageous decision on the coal mine for a public inquiry.

Thank you so much for the donations so many of you have already made for the initial advice from top lawyers Leigh Day.  This has been of such enormous value and has paved the way for a legal challenge so we can continue to fight this terrible plan..

A new crowd justice fundraiser is now live and can be found here.  We now need to up the ante and raise enough funds to cover the costs of a full legal challenge. We can’t do it without your help.  If you can share the page or donate no matter how small the donation then please do.

If this coal mine is not stopped the carbon emissions alone would be likely to result over its lifetime to one full year of UK national emissions.  This is crazy given that the UK government has declared a climate emergency.

Not only would this coal mine produce 9 million tonnes of CO2 emissions every year (not including methane, radon etc)  but the plan is to extend mining activity under the Irish Sea to within 5 miles of Sellafield.

The results of induced seismic events of any magnitude at the worlds riskiest nuclear waste site could be catastrophic on a planetary scale.

There are so many reasons to oppose this coal mine plan from climate catastrophe to nuclear catastrophe.  That is why we are  campaigning hard to stop the plan.

Please check out the CrowdJustice Page  and PLEASE continue to Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole!   All donations made will go direct to the legal challenge!

With Many Thanks!!!


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

Major force behind Javelin Global Commodities – the new partner of WCM has now gone into the US bankruptcy procedure….hot off the press

West Cumbria Mining entered into partnership with Javelin Global Commodities whose major stakeholder is Murray Energy on October 14th.

Today the New York Times reports….

Credit…Joshua Roberts/Reuters

Murray Energy, once a symbol of American mining prowess, has become the eighth coal company in a year to file for bankruptcy protection. The move on Tuesday is the latest sign that market forces are throttling the Trump administration’s bid to save the industry.

The collapse of the Ohio-based company had long been expected as coal-fired power plants close across the country.

Its chief executive, Robert E. Murray, has been an outspoken supporter and adviser of President Trump. He had lobbied extensively for Washington to support coal-fired power plants.

Mr. Murray gave up his position as chief executive and was replaced on Tuesday by Robert Moore, the former chief financial officer. Mr. Murray, who will remain chairman, expressed optimism that the company would survive with a lighter debt load.


Continue reading the main story

“Although a bankruptcy filing is not an easy decision, it became necessary to access liquidity,” he said in a statement, “and best position Murray Energy and its affiliates for the future of our employees and customers and our long-term success.”

Murray, the nation’s largest privately held coal company, has nearly 7,000 employees and operates 17 mines in six states across Appalachia and the South as well as two mines in Colombia. It produces more than 70 million tons of coal annually.

But with utilities quickly switching to cheap natural gas and renewable sources like wind and solar power, Murray and other coal companies have been shutting down mines and laying off workers. Murray’s bankruptcy follows those of industry stalwarts like Cloud Peak Energy, Cambrian Coal and Blackjewel.

Murray was most closely identified with Trump administration promises to reverse the industry’s fortunes.


Continue reading the main story

Mr. Murray contributed $300,000 to Mr. Trump’s inauguration. Shortly after, he wrote Mr. Trump a confidential memo with his wish list for the industry, including shaving regulations on greenhouse gas emissions and ozone and mine safety, along with cutting the staff at the Environmental Protection Agency by at least 50 percent. Several of the suggestions were adopted.


Continue reading the main story

“Magical Coal Mine” Demo Outside County Offices Kendal, 31st Oct from 8.30am till the meeting starts at 10am

Bloody Magical Coal Mine I am!  .jpg


The presentation below has been sent to the Development Control & Regulation Committee.  I will read a shortened version of it out on behalf of Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole at the meeting on the 31st in the County Offices, Kendal.

There will be a demonstration ahead of the meeting from 8.30 for people to make their views known about this outrageous plan. Bring Banners – bring yourselves!

You can send your own letter of objection in before 31st (do it quick) doesn’t need to be loads just a few lines of why Cumbria County Council is wrong to be ratifying this outrageous decision.  They even say this coal mine would be “carbon neutral” and make “carbon savings” this is incredible magical thinking.  Phone, Write to

01539 713 548

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole –

Presentation to Development Control and Regulation Committee 31st oct

Application ref no 4/17/9007


Keep Cumbrian Coal the Hole is a campaign by civil society group Radiation Free Lakeland.  We were first alerted to this coal mine as it would extend to within 5 miles of Sellafield. The risks are multiple and are on a planetary scale.

Carbon Neutral?

The overriding and often repeated message from the council’s reply to Leigh Day’s questions is that the mine would be “broadly carbon neutral”.  This assumption is crucial; yet, neither the addendum report, nor in fact any of the underlying application documents,  provide the evidence to support it.

It seems that this “carbon neutral” claim is simply based on vague assumptions that “coal production at Whitehaven would substitute for coal production elsewhere.”   Really?

Clearly, the consideration of the likely emissions output from this development is absolutely key for any decision made by this committee. The Committee must come to a reasonable conclusion on the expected level of greenhouse gas emissions that will be produced over the next 50 years.  It must do so, so that it can decide how much weight to give to that factor in the planning balance. The Applicant has simply failed to provide the Committee with sufficient information to carry out this task – this was a key point highlighted in the Leigh Day letter and it has not been addressed by the addendum report – which merely reiterates assertions about how the market might respond to the increased output in Whitehaven.

  1. With respect, the addendum report has raised more questions than it has answered. Notably, it states at para 4.4 of the addendum report, that the original Committee Report attached “moderate weight” to the “CO2 emissions from the extraction and processing of the coal and their impact upon climate change” which weighed against the proposal.  That must have been based on an understanding that the mine would produce CO2 emissions (as undoubtedly is the case).  Somewhat oddly, the Addendum Report now seeks to clarify that this should have said that “greenhouse gas emissions globally as a result of the extract and processing of coal would be broadly in balance”.  It refers to other paragraphs of the original report (6.47 and 6.406) where the import-substitution point was made – however, the import-substitution point concerns emissions from reduced transportation.  It does not support the argument that the coal produced further afield will stop being produced at all.  So it cannot be relied upon to factor out the additional emissions associated with bringing a new coal mine into operation.  
  1. On the emissions expected from exports of coal from the mine, we must emphasise that the vast majority of output is expected to be exported. The proposed amount of coking coal for export to Europe and beyond would be a staggering 2 million tonnes annually.  Whereas the amount earmarked for UK use would be a more modest 360,000 tonnes. So most of the coking coal produced is destined to travel abroad.  In relation to this, the addendum report relies on assumptions that this will all be exported to “Europe” and will replace alternative sources of coking coal from further afield.  Yet there is absolutely no restriction on where the coal would be exported to.  Nothing prevents it from travelling further afield.  And, if it does, all the assumptions on emissions savings through import substitution fall on their face. 

Has the Committee properly considered this? Where is the evidence for this idea of “substitution”?  Do the councillors really believe that a mine elsewhere will stop producing coal because a mine in Cumbria has opened up under the Irish Sea, five miles from Sellafield? More importantly, do they have before them sufficient evidence to support such claims.  In our view, they clearly do not.

Demand for Coking Coal for Steel

You acknowledge that the demand for coking coal is led by the demand for steel.  However there is no acknowledgment in your report that technology and politics has moved on with the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) announcing in August,  new measures to “enable a pathway to lower carbon steel production and support broader efforts to decarbonise industry”.  

Nor is there any recognition of the possibility that greater supply of coking coal might impact on worldwide prices, with a real chance that demand will increase (for both the coking coal, itself, and for steel) due to reductions in the price.

Middlings Coal

The middlings coal you say would be up to 15% of coking coal extraction.  To describe up to 15% of production as a “by-product” is disingenous. It is a significant amount of production, in and of itself, and members should not be distracted by this type of terminology.  The level of middlings coal produced could easily be a development in itself, so the impacts of it need to be fully considered.

You say that an assessment of CO2 emissions “would not be a reasonable requirement.”   Given that the UK government has just signed up to a Climate Emergency we say that a full and comprehensive assessment including the various scenarios of transport exports to near Europe, far Europe and beyond, of the CO2 emissions from both coking and middlings coal is an entirely reasonable requirement.

At paragraph 6.71 of the original report, it stated in relation to middlings coal production that “There are valid arguments made in respect of climate change, but we consider these issues could be better managed by applying regulatory controls at the point of use.” The addendum report now seeks to clarify, at para 4.14, that the mere reference to there being “valid arguments made in respect of climate change” meant that the issue was weighed in the planning balance but was not considered of sufficient weight as to justify the refusal of permission, or to require a condition requiring disposal of the middlings coal.  That is not how we read the original report.  It is not clear at all what the “valid arguments in respect of climate change” referred to were and by reference to other regulatory controls, it was clear that the officer did not factor emissions from middlings coal production into her assessment.

Interestingly, the addendum report now recognizes that the burning of middlings coal would “undoubtedly” result in the generation of CO2 but argues that it would not be a “reasonable requirement” to expect the decision-maker to assess possible emissions associated with it.  This is a fundamental failing in a case where the officers are nonetheless arguing that the “greenhouse gas emissions of the mining operations would be broadly carbon neutral” and the “greenhouse gas emissions globally as a result of this extraction and processing of coal would be broadly in balance”.  

With respect, you cannot reach a conclusion that operations are carbon neutral if you have failed to estimate the emissions associated with 15% of production.

If you are going to assess the net carbon output of a development, then you have to assess the whole of it.  To do otherwise is irrational.

Finally, on middlings coal, we can still see no reasoning as to why the level of output has been limited by condition to 15%? Why not 10% or 25%? What evidence or understanding rationalises this conclusion and how has it been shown to be necessary, relevant to planning, relevant to the development to be permitted, or reasonable in all other respects?

Net Zero

The addendum report concludes that whilst the new net zero target makes the Climate Change Act 2008 target more challenging, it does not change the original report’s assessment on the impact on climate change and efforts to reduce CO2 emissions, which were both treated as key considerations in that report.

With respect the addendum report fails to appreciate the substantive change brought about by the new net zero target.  By 2050 there needs to be a 100% reduction in emissions as compared to 1990 levels.  That means that all emissions need to be offset, or somehow compensated for, so as to produce a “net zero” emissions output level overall.

This development will result in significant emissions far beyond 2050.  If consent were to be granted next year, the permission would last until 2070.  Even if the Committee were to accept – what we say are the incorrect – assumptions that the production of coking coal will be carbon neutral, it now seems accepted by officers that the production of middlings coal will result in unquantified levels of emissions.  That – at the very least – needs to be properly factored in.

The Committee must have due regard to the emissions output that any permission will grant consent for beyond 2050 and what will be needed to offset this.  This is clearly a material consideration in light of the legally binding net zero target.

And, it only supports the need for the Committee to obtain robust evidence from the Applicant on what exactly the likely emissions output will be.  To reiterate, we do not consider the Committee has sufficient information at present.

Carbon Savings?

Finally and without any supporting evidence at all the report claims that “whilst greenhouse gas emissions of the mining operations are very likely to be carbon neutral, it is still considrered that some carbon savings must exist  from reduced transportation distances.” (4.6)  Incredible!  So this massive coal mine which proposes to operate over 50 years would actually result in carbon savings from reduced transport with this ‘home grown’ coking coal-?   Even though the plan is to export the majority of coal to Europe and beyond. 

We ask that the Council do not ratify this disastrous and planetary damaging application for the first deep mine in the UK in 30 years extending to within 5 miles of Sellafield.  There is no supporting evidence at all to back up the false claims of the mine being “carbon neutral” and making “carbon savings.” 

Ratification of Coal Mine? NO!! NO!! NO!!

sent to press


Back in spring of this year the first deep coal mine in the UK in decades was given unanimous approval by Cumbria County Council. 


Following the threat of legal action by campaigners Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole, the Council have nervously decided that they need to ratify their approval.  Their unanimous approval was based on the need for coking coal and jobs in the West Cumbrian town of Whitehaven.  Coal mining ceased in Whitehaven in 1986 when the Haig Pit closed.  Since then this harbour town has increasingly become a satellite of Sellafield with new offices being built by demolishing heritage architecture and decanting workers from the nuclear waste site.  One of the trendy new offices housing Sellafield staff is adjacent to a foul chimney which has been left as a feature.  The foul chimney originally vented methane out of the old mines. 

Foul Chimney and Sellafield Office


Following the council’s decision based on the ‘need for jobs and coking coal’ there was outrage expressed in a previously rather muted national press despite letters to The Guardian and others.  Perhaps because of this outrage and surprise that plans for a coal mine under the Irish Sea bed should be approved, the then Secretary of State, James Brokenshire MP issued a ‘holding direction’ under article 31 of the Town and Country Planning Order 2015. This prevents the release of the Council’s decision until the Secretary of States decides whether to call in the application for public inquiry.  


Demo outside County Offices, Kendal prior to the 19th March unanimous approval vote by Cumbria County Council .


The letter sent to Cumbria County Council on 20th June from lawyers Leigh Day opens the way for legal action in the form of a  Judicial Review should the Secretary of State not call in the decision.  Leigh Day’s letter which was made possibe through crowdfunding by Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole informs the County Council of a number of flaws and omissions in their planning assessment.  The letter invites the Committee to formally re-consider its approval.

These flaws include Cumbria County Council’s failures to consider:

  1. Green house gas emissions of the mining operations
  2. The need for, and GHG impacts of, Middlings Coal
  3. GHG impacts of an increase in coal production.

Demo in Whitehaven following the Council's Decision

Demo in Whitehaven attended by various groups, following the County Council’s ‘Yes’ vote

The letter from Leigh Day states in conclusion: 

“For the reasons given above, KCCH formally requests that the Committee reconsiders its resolution to grant planning permission for the Whitehaven Coalmine development and asks that the Committee has full regard to each of the considerations listed above when it does so.” 

No Coal - cumbria

Demonstrators in Whitehaven after the Council’s ‘Yes’vote


Since Leigh Day wrote their letter putting the council ‘on notice’ of legal action in June for their flawed decision in March there have been further developments.

This makes Javelin Global Commodities a venture capital company that sees coal and nuclear hand in hand.  Murray Energy is on the verge of bankruptcy having left a trail of devastation in the US and is looking to squeeze the pips out of other stressed communities such as that of West Cumbria which is already suffering from the skewed socio-economics of nuclear.  Uniper, the subsidiary of the Finnish state operated nuclear corporation Fortum, has recently produced a briefing paper of “analysis and recommendations to assist investors, insurers and banks in achieving a coal phase-out from Fortum and Uniper in line with the climate targets of the UN Paris Climate Agreement and protecting citizen’s health”.   OK so why are they investing in a coal mine?

The civil society nuclear safety group Radiation Free Lakeland was founded over 10 years ago out of sheer frustration over the lack of unequivocal opposition to the government’s ‘Managing Radioactive Wastes Safely’ plan for geological ‘disposal’ of intermediate and high level nuclear wastes.  Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole is another Radiation Free Lakeland campaign that was borne out of similar frustrations with seeing West Cumbria Mining get away with outragous PR spin for its mine proposal just five miles from Sellafield.   Marianne Birkby the founder of Radiation Free Lakeland says “the plan for the mined out Irish Sea bed is to hyraulically backfill the mine with goodness knows what into the voids.  Adding nuclear partners into the mix inspires apprehension that there is more to this coal mine than meets the eye and what meets the eye really is bad enough!”

Campaigners are urging people to contact Cumbria County Council with their opposition to ratification of the coal mine plan.  People can email the Development Control Committee developmentcontrol@cumbria.gov.uk asking that this outrageous coal mine plan is not ratified

The meeting will be in Kendal County Offices  on 31st Oct with a demonstration outside the offices from 8.30am.  Campaigners hope  that as many people as can get to Kendal  County Offices on 31st October will come along and demand that the Council do not ratify the decision to open the first deep coal mine in the UK in decades.

A petition of almost 2000 signatures has also been handed to Tim Farron MP by Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole to give to the Secretary of State asking him to call the decision in for a public inquiry.


Uniper/Fortum briefing paper