The only national paper to report on Delivery of our Protest and Petition to the Secretary of State was Le Monde.

Le Monde 15th April 2019

Translated with Google..

Le Monde

“Despite growing concerns over global warming, the UK is about to open an underwater coal mine. The first in thirty years, in the north-west of the country, on the coast of the depopulated county of Cumbria. A group of local opponents sent the government Wednesday, April 10 a petition signed by 1,500 people.  This called for a stay of Cumbria County Council’s decision and the opening of a public inquiry, in which “all aspects of the mine would be examined in detail”.
On March 19th, all-party members of the county council voted unanimously in favor of this offshore submarine mine project led by West Cumbria Mining Limited. In the Irish Sea, a few hundred meters from the coast of Whitehaven (25 000 inhabitants), the exploitation of the ore nested at a depth of 350 meters should begin within two years, according to the company. The mining company is still required to obtain an operating license from the Marine Management Organization (an independent body responsible for the management of marine protected areas) to be able to dig under the sea.
Access will be from the mainland, then through underground galleries. “For the miners who work there, it does not change a conventional underground mine,” says the director of risks in the Bureau of Geological and Mining Research (BRGM), Karim Ben Slimane.

“Desperately need these jobs”
Objective of the “Woodhouse Colliery”, name of the future mine: the extraction of 3.1 million tons of annual coking coal for the European steel industry, for fifty years. And above all, 500 jobs, of which the company guarantees “80% to the inhabitants of the zone”. “The mine will boost the local economy and create well-paying jobs,” said Mike Starkie, Mayor of Copeland District, whose capital is Whitehaven. It is fantastic to see the coal industry return to western Cumbria. ”
The coal has long been part of the industrial landscape of this region, “one of the most disadvantaged in the north of England,” he says. In 1986, the closure of a first underwater mine left 3 500 people on the road. Then in Whitehaven, in the popular neighborhood adjoining the land where the mine offices are already located, the prospect of a salary goes well before the rest. …”

The rest of the article is behind a paywall


Delivering the Petition to Call In the Crazy Coal Mine Plan to the Home Office


Outside the Home Office, Kevin  the West Cumbrian Mining Canary has that sinking feeling! 

Canary Home Office.png

Yesterday in the cold sunshine a couple of intrepid Cumbrians and a naked yellow ‘coal mine canary’ called Kevin made the journey to London.

We were delivering a petition signed by 1527 folk (now risen to 1582) who are asking the Secretary of State James Brokenshire MP to call in the outrageous decision for a new deep undersea coal mine.

We will keep the petition open to demonstrate the strength of feeling against this plan which so many people living nearby are opposed to.

On the same day that we were delivering the petition the Mayor of Copeland sent an extraordinary letter to the Secretary of State. In his letter the Mayor, Mike Starkie restates the view he expressed to Cumbria County Councillors.  The Mayor urges the Secretary of State to ignore the high level expert advice which has described the damage that this plan would do to our planet’s climate,  and to ignore the very real concerns of nuclear safety campaigners who fear this plan would increase the already intolerable and overwhelming radioactive risks from Sellafield to Cumbria and beyond.

West Cumbria Mining have spent £millions on promoting this plan with lobbyists wooing local MPs and government ministers many of whom have been lured by the entirely faux ‘environmental’ reassurances.

The Mayor of Copeland repeats the mantra that this plan has overwhelming support from ordinary West Cumbrians.  We would like to invite the Mayor of Copeland to take a walk with us, in the presence of a journalist to act as a witness, and to ask those we meet in the streets of Workington, Egremont, Whitehaven and Kells what their view is of West Cumbria Mining’s plan.



The Mayor of Copeland and WCM keep on repeating the mantra that this mine is wanted by local folk.  It is true that West Cumbria is desperately in need of jobs and investment. What West Cumbria is not in need of is yet another dead duck and expensive (in more ways than one) industry to suck the remaining life out it.

Here are some excerpts of what locals are saying…


This was the view of everyone we chatted to in Workington (except one)

What are folk saying who live even nearer the proposed mine?

This is an extract from a letter sent by local folk to Cumbria County Council (it may be available on the CCC website  – although our letters of objection from Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole are not on!!)

“Pow Beck has the railway and a couple of wind turbines but in the main it is a tranquil, fairly secluded and pretty place. In our opinion the Railway Loading Facility will affect our environment with emission, dust, noise and light, and detrimental to the ecology here. The facility will impact the peaceful enjoyment of our home, St. Bees village and Pow Beck wildlife.

The building is large and railway sidings extensive. The facility will be visually overbearing and no amount of tree planting or timber clad buildings will soften its appearance on the landscape. They have planned technically advanced building to keep the dust, noise and emissions to regulation levels, but the Loading Facility will still be a noisy, dusty and bright facility in our quiet, dark valley.

By its very nature mining is a messy business and we are not convinced by the marketing and bright coloured CGI animations used to demonstrate how this MODERN mine will operate. The animation makes it looks so clean but we have the opinion that is far from the facts. It does not show the shunting of wagons to the sidings, the plumes of dust as each wagon is loaded; We read somewhere 4 trains’ daily transporting coal to Redcar. These quieter modern trains can pull at least 21 large covered coal wagons, not the 7/8 shown on the CGI.

In our estimate that must be a train over 200m long. The CGI does not show those large trains trundling past homes through Mirehouse, Parton or Harrington to name a few. Pow Beck is going to be a very different place at all times of the day and night. We thought the United Nations and EU have in place regulations to reduce carbon emissions to meet climate targets, yet here we are in Cumbria giving consideration to digging out millions of tonnes of coal. We would have thought political policy would have put the kibosh on mining in this country, indeed in March of this year our government rejected an open cast mine in Northumberland saying the environmental impact outweighs economic benefits.

In Wales, only last month, they have reached the decisions no new mining unless under exceptional circumstances. WCM say 80% will be exported. We produce the coal and let someone else burn it. What a legacy, will we ever learn? Mining coal is a retrograde step, Apologies to all those miners past and present, We don’t wish to be ungrateful for their legacy, but we should not be thinking of building a new mine, burning coal is never going to be clean enough and that’s the facts.

Since 2014 WCM Ltd have marketed the mines with the creation of jobs for a lot of people over a very long time, benefits for the economy; an investment for West Cumbria. It is our belief that the environmental costs and environmental risk are too high a price for all that. The coal is not an asset anymore, the burning of fossil fuel is a liability that our children will be paying for. Therefore, we ask that Cumbria County Council refuse this planning application and keep Copeland coal, and other pollutants locked beneath the sandstone out of harm’s way.”

That last line from folk living near this proposal is worth repeating

..”we ask that Cumbria County Council refuse this planning application and keep Copeland coal, and other pollutants locked beneath the sandstone out of harm’s way.”

These are the locals that the Mayor Mike Starkie wants the Secretary of State to ignore – having sucessfully urged the County Council to ignore them!    Is this what a Mayor is for?


Call in Request to the Secretary of State by Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole


CEO of West Cumbria Mining , Mark Kirkbride (who interestingly also happens to be an expert in ‘geological disposal’ ) going into the Council Meeting past Protestors

Here is our letter to the Secretary of State.  Anyone can write requesting that the decision be called in and the more individuals and  groups that do this the better.

If you don’t have time to write a letter then there is a petition here 

(some folk may have already signed it – it has been updated – but the more shares the better!)


The Rt Hon James Brockenshire MP,
Secretary of State for Housing, Communities & Local Government, Ministry of State for Housing, Communities & Local Government, 2 Marsham Street,
London SW1P 4DF.

3rd April 2019 

Dear Secretary of State, 

Re: Application Reference No. 4/17/9007 – Former Marchon Site, Pow Beck Valley and area from Marchon Site to St Bees Coast, Whitehaven, Cumbria 

I write on behalf of Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole, a campaign by Radiation Free Lakeland to ask that the Secretary of State calls in the above decision. 

We are a civil society group that aims to remove the risk of environmental damage both nationally and internationally that may arise from the presence of an extensive nuclear industry close to the Lake District National Park, a World Heritage Site. 

On 19th March Cumbria County Council (CCC) granted conditional planning permission for a resumption of the long abandoned onshore coal mining at St Bees to West Cumbria Mining Limited (WCM). 

The applicant has confirmed that their onshore proposal is commercially dependent upon the extraction of coal from under the adjacent coastal waters of the Irish Sea for which they would need agreement from the Marine Management Organisation. 

Our concerns primarily relate to potential cross boundary radiation impacts resulting from damage to Sellafield as a result of aggressive deep mining activity in methane rich coal beds and freshwater extraction to wash the coal (from a geological fault). We are, however, also concerned about wider environmental impacts arising from the mine, including climate change. 

We support the call in by Tim Farron MP, and we refer you to the climate scientists and experts (Dr Laurie Michaelis, Dr Henry Adams and others) who have outlined the cross boundary climate impacts that would result from this mine (impacts as outlined by the Climate Change Act 2008). 

We request the Secretary of State calls this application in for his own determination on the basis that the proposal fulfils the following (Caborn) criteria for call-in: 

1. The proposal conflicts with national policies on important matters 

We refer to paragraphs 205, 211, 7 and of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) 2019. 

NPPF Paragraph 205 states: “When determining planning applications, great weight should be given to the benefits of mineral extraction, including to the economy” except in relation to the extraction of coal, in which case reference is made to paragraph 211. 

Paragraph 211 states: “Planning permission should not be granted for the extraction of coal unless: 

a) the proposal is environmentally acceptable, or can be made so by planning conditions or obligations; or 

b) if it is not environmentally acceptable, then it provides national, local or community benefits which clearly outweigh its likely impacts (taking all relevant matters into account, including any residual environmental impacts).” 

It is our view that the proposal cannot be made acceptable by planning conditions or obligations and that any national, local or community benefits do not outweigh the likely impacts. 

We also refer the Secretary of State to key paragraphs of the NPPF concerning sustainable development (as set out in paragraphs 7-14). 

We also refer to a paper published by the Interdepartmental Liaison Group on Risk Assessment (ILGRA), in 2002 entitled The Precautionary Principle: Policy and Application. This paper highlighted a number of important points including noting that the precautionary approach should be invoked when: “there is good reason to believe that harmful effects may occur to human, animal or plant health, or to the environment; and the level of scientific uncertainty about the consequences or likelihood of the risk is such that best available scientific advice cannot assess the risk with sufficient confidence to inform decision-making”. 

The proposal potentially conflicts with paras of the NPPF concerned with “Meeting the challenge of climate change, flooding and coastal change” (see pages 44-45). 

2. The proposal could have significant effects beyond their immediate locality; give rise to substantial cross-boundary or national controversy. We draw your attention to the close 8km proximity of this coal mine to Sellafield’s uniquely dangerous storage of high level wastes and highly active liquors (see Consequences in Norway of a hypothetical accident at Sellafield: Potential release – transport and fallout Strålevern Rapport 2009:7. Østerås: Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority) 

Cross boundary impacts: For example, there is no guarantee that subsidence will not occur following mining and backfill of the voids with a cement mix. If subsidence does occur, there is a significant risk that highly carcinogenic and dangerous radioactive and chemical sediment and silt will be re-suspended from the Irish Sea bed and mobilised with the tides not only to Cumbrian beaches but also to European beaches (and beyond). Similarly, mining and freshwater abstraction from faults is known to increase seismic activity. It is significant that the only area of the UK ever to experience a liquefaction event from a minor seismic event is a small village not far from Sellafield in the 1800s. A recent paper published by the Yorkshire Geological Society (The susceptibility of glacigenic deposits to liquefaction under seismic loading conditions: a case study relating to nuclear site characterization in West Cumbria by Martin Cross, Anass Attya and David J. A. Evans Proceedings of the Yorkshire Geological Society,18 September 2018) found that Sellafield and its surrounds are at “high risk” of liquefaction. 

If a liquefaction event happened at Sellafield as a result of mining the consequences would be catastrophic, not just for Cumbria but for the rest of Europe. Given the catastrophic radiological impacts that a seismic event at Sellafield induced by nearby coal mining could have on other EU countries this proposal is potentially subject to Article 37 of the Euratom Treaty. Article 37 requires Member States to provide the Commission with general data so that they may give an opinion on whether the proposal is likely to have an impact on other Member States. Post Brexit we hope that this protection afforded to other European Countries is honoured. 

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole has a following of approximately 1500 supporters including academics and scientists. We have been campaigning to raise awareness about this development since 2015. In 2016 Radiation Free Lakeland received a personal letter of thanks for our ongoing civil society work in nuclear safety from Austria’s Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management who are equally concerned at the danger Sellafield poses to Europe even without deep coal mining under the Irish Sea. 

Finally, we would also highlight that there remains a significant question about the extent of the climate change impacts arising from this scheme (even if coal used in steel production, there will be CO2 emitted). In this respect, we note the purpose of the power under s.77 Town and Country Planning Act 1990 is to give the Secretary of State the power to call in planning applications where he considers that this is “necessary or desirable in the national interest” (R. (on the application of Adlard) v Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions [2002] 1 WLR 2515). We would submit this is clearly one such case.

In light of the above, we urge the Secretary of State to call this application in for his own determination at the earliest opportunity. 

Yours sincerely,
Marianne Birkby
On behalf of Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole A Radiation Free Lakeland campaign sellafield 


WCM (with Cumbria County Council’s help) Puffed Up At the Planning Meeting Their Plan for “Recycling Water.” Get Real!! How Much Fresh Water Will You Use? From What Fault?.

We have written asking under Freedom of Information about West Cumbria Mining’s fresh water use.  WCM have years ago (really!)  stopped answering any questions from us and Cumbria County Council told me over the telephone last week that they have no clue as to how much fresh water WCM plan to abstract from a fault near Whitehaven.
So we are forced to write and ask for this information under Freedom of Information This important information on fresh water should already be highlighted in the public domain and be easy for the public to access.   WCM have puffed themselves up mightily over “recycling surface water” and this was repeated at the planning meeting by Cumbria County Council officials as though WCM were some kind of super duper eco warriors.
The tiny percentage of ‘recycled standing water’ would be a drop in the vast ocean of fresh water necessary to wash the coal and other processes that WCM plan to do.
We have repeatedly asked the developers West Cumbria Mining and Cumbria County Council for detailed information on WCM’s projected water use .  WCM’s  PR makes much of the notion that WCM will “recycle” water, the public only heard briefly (and for myself for the first time)  about ‘abstraction from a fault’ at the planning meeting .
 We have recieved no reply to our questions either from WCM or from Cumbria County Council.
Under Freedom of Information, Radiation Free Lakeland ask the Environment Agency for sight of:
Fresh Water Abstraction From the Named Fault by West Cumbria Mining.
1. What is the name of the fault that WCM propose to use?
2. How much water per day do WCM propose to abstract from the fault?
3.  Has this proposed abstraction had an EIA from the EA?
4.  Does the fault proposed to be used by WCM have linkage with the Lake District Boundary Fault or is this unquantifiable?
Thank you
yours sincerely,
Marianne Birkby
Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole (a Radiation Free Lakeland campaign)

Bad News and Good News

Dear Friends,

There is bad news and good news.  Bad news is that apparently the Development Control & Regulation decision cannot be ‘called in’ internally by Cumbria County Council

Good news is that all your fantastic emails and messages to councillors and others has resulted in Tim Farron MP requesting that the Secretary of State calls in this diabolic decision to give a green light to the first deep coal mine in the UK in decades.

We shall give an update on how we can best support this request for a call in by Tim Farron MP to the Secretary of State as soon as possible.

In the meantime – for those folk who were not able to get to the meeting, here are a few videos taken on the day (sorry I didn’t get all the speakers including myself!)   Grab a cuppa and watch the terrible drama unfold – and make no mistake this will make your toes curl.  It is significant that the proximity to Sellafield was not even brought up as an issue by the Council officers.  Sickeningly the members of the committee laughed their socks off when I pointed out that a liquefaction event had taken place in Barrow in the 1800’s – the ground at Sellafield is at high risk of liquefaction in the event of seismic activity.  The last thing we need is earthquake inducing deep mining and massive fresh water extraction to wash the coal (to be extracted from a fault near Whitehaven – they kept that freshwater extraction quiet!).


Part 1. Council Officials addressing the  Development Control and Regulation Committee of Cumbria County Council. The full council did not have a chance to debate this.  We heard Lib Dem Cllr and Chair of the meeting Geoff Cook clearly approve of the first deep coal mine in the UK in decades. Incredibly the close proximity (8km) to Sellafield was not discussed at all by councillors or by their officials.



Part 2 . Part 2. Official of Cumbria County Council outlining how adverse effects can be mitigated from the first deep coal mine in the UK in decades (really?)


Part 3. Dr Henry Adams of SLACCtt making a presentation to Cumbria County Council “SLACCtt most strongly objects to West Cumbria Mining’s application because the carbon emissions it would add are so huge that they would have very significant negative consequences that would far outweigh the benefits claimed.”


Part 4.  Dr Laurie Michaelis IPCC Emissions report author and coordinator of Living Witness.  making a breathtaking presentation to Cumbria County Council –

“Speaking to you feels like possibly the single most important thing I’ll do in my life.”

which they totally ignored.


Part 5. Sam of Radiation Free Lakeland/Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole exposes West Cumbria Mining’s false promises over jobs. “It would be truly difficult to find a bigger dead duck proposal than producing fossil fuels for a declining European steel industry. …Cumbria has had it’s fair share of dead and dying industries – old coal and now nuclear – we do not need another dead duck industry . . . Coal is not the future. It could perhaps be said of the WCM proposal that it was a well-intentioned attempt to bring employment to the area. It could equally be said that it was an unrealistic bubble from the start What we need are jobs that do have a future. Please look to the future stability of jobs in Cumbria and JUST SAY NO.”


Part 6.  Dr Stuart Parkinson, Executive Director of Scientists for Global Responsibility   “In summary, approving this application for a coal mine would be a huge step backwards for efforts to tackle climate change – and thus would increase the risks of extreme weather events such as storms and floods. Meanwhile, the economic case for the mine is flawed. Therefore, I strongly urge the planning committee to reject the application. ”   

Part 7. Mayor of Copeland, Mike Starkie tells councillors to Ignore the “sensationalist” claims of the objectors who have nothing to do with West Cumbria and the objectors views should carry no weight whatsoever (?! what a brass neck this Mayor has… many objectors are local to Whitehaven  and WCM is a dodgy company funded by who knows who from who knows where). Councillors agree entirely with the Mayor of Copeland (who makes the ‘Jaws’ Mayor look quite reasonable) and vote unanimously to approve the first deep coal mine in the UK in decades.  The Mayor points out that Sellafield are right behind this plan to mine deep holes in Cumbria.




Will 3 Councillors Please Step Up to Protect Cumbria and the Planet??


Mark Kirkbride CEO of West Cumbria Mining going into the Council Chamber. Photo credit Philip Gilligan of South Lakeland CND

Dear Friends,

We are shell shocked but regathering our resolve to challenge this outrageous decision taken by just a handful of Cumbria County Councillors.   There are legal actions we can take and are looking into but we feel the first course of action should be for CCC to have the chance to rethink this shameful decision.  We do not have much time to do this – just till early next week (we think – any advice welcome!)

There is a way to do this with an internal ‘call in’.

So it would be fantastic if folk could write to Cumbria County Councillors and ask for this decision to be ‘called in’.

The Councillors details are here…

An example letter is below but using your own words making these points would be really good.

On the 19th March The Development & Regulation Committee  voted unanimously in favour of the plan for the first deep coal mine in the UK in decades not far from Sellafield. This terrible plan hassuch damaging consequencesfor the planet and for Cumbria it should be discussed and debated by the whole council.   The Scrutiny and Overview committee decision can then be informed by the feeling of the whole council rather than by a handful of committee members.
It would just take 3 councillors step up to protect Cumbria and agree to a *call in* . If you are one of those councillors and would like to have a briefing to advise on wording for the call in then please urgently contact
From CCCs website:  The *call in* requires three non-Cabinet members to email the Assistant Director- Corporate Governance, giving reasons and identifying a Lead Member.  The notice must specify which aspect or aspects of the decision the members wish to question or challenge.
Yours sincerely,

There is also a petition which we are keeping open can you help spread the word by forwarding the link below to your friends?

Many Thanks

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole