‘Carbon Border Tax’ Report Author is Coal Mine Lobbyist

 

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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

SUPPORT OUR LEGAL FIGHT AGAINST A NEW COAL MINE IN CUMBRIA

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Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole – demonstration back in 2017

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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!!!

Marianne

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.

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“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.

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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.

 

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

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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

Intro: 

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

COUNCIL PLAN TO RATIFY OUTRAGEOUS ‘YES’ TO COAL MINE 

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

COKING COAL AND JOBS.

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

OUTRAGE

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.  

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

LAWYERS LEIGH DAY

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

WHAT HAS CHANGED SINCE THE COUNCIL’S DECISION?

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.

https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/keep-cumbrian-coal-in-the-hole-its-too-near-sellafield#_=_

Uniper/Fortum briefing paper

 https://beyond-coal.eu/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/EBC_Fortum_Uniper_briefing_paper.pdf

Wildlife Watch – Who will Speak Up for these beautiful creatures ?

 

These pictures were taken in September 2019.

The wildlife is returning to the mining area of Whitehaven following decades of coal extraction. Now three decades after coal extraction stopped the plan is to open the first deep coal mine in the UK here under the Irish Sea off the fragile wildlife habitat of St Bees.

The mine would extend to within five miles of Sellafield. Cumbria County Council voted unanimously to approve the plan back in March and they plan to ratify this on October 31st 2019.

The battle goes on.

Please write, phone, email, speak opposing ratification.

******contact Cumbria County Council stating your opposition to their 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.  You can ask to speak at the meeting in Kendal on the 31st October (see above)  demanding that the original vote by Cumbria County Council is not ratified.  

 

Quote:   Ref No. 4/17/9007  West Cumbria Mining
The meeting will be in Kendal County Offices  on 31st Oct. at 10am  We 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.********

URGENT! Tell the Council – NO! Do Not Ratify Coal Mine Plan on 31st Oct in Kendal

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Protest by Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole following Cumbria County Council’s unanimous approval of the coal mine on 19th March
Dear Friends,
Cumbria County Council Plan to Ratify the Coal Mine Decision in Kendal on 31st October

*******Please ask to speak at the meeting (deadline to ask is tomorrow 25th Oct at 4.30) or write before the meeting on 31st October and ask them not to ratify this outrageous plan. Contact Democratic Services Officer – Nicola Harrison on 01228 226906 or email:Nicola.Harrison@cumbria.gov.uk

Following Cumbria County Council’s approval of the coal mine on 19th March,  top lawyers Leigh Day wrote to them on Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole’s instruction with a set of key questions. The letter to Cumbria County Council put them *on notice* that their approval of the first deep coal mine in the UK in 30 years is putting the Council at serious risk of legal challenge.   These questions were not answered during the planning meeting.  The questions included  the need for coal and the full carbon footprint of the mine.   This letter from Leigh Day was made possible by crowdfunding.  Cumbria County Council have acknowledged but not ‘replied’  directly to the letter from lawyers Leigh Day .  However they are having a meeting about it on 31st October as they say that because of the threat of legal challenge from KCCH they now need to ratify their  original decision (and try to pre-empt a judicial review based on the questions in Leigh Day’s letter)

One of the ‘replies’ to Leigh Days question about the carbon footprint of the mine is that it would be ‘carbon neutral’.  This is magical thinking by Cumbria County Council of the highest order.   Cumbria County Council assert that the Whitehaven coal mine would displace coal from elsewhere – but say campaigners a mine elsewhere is not going to suddenly stop mining because a new  coal mine in Cumbria opens (five miles from Sellafield).

 Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole have asked if they can speak at the meeting or make a statement on others behalf – for example their lawyers, Leigh Day.  

*******Campaigners are urging others 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.  You can ask to speak at the meeting in Kendal on the 31st October (see above)  demanding that the original vote by Cumbria County Council is not ratified.  

Quote:   Ref No. 4/17/9007  West Cumbria Mining
The meeting will be in Kendal County Offices  on 31st Oct. at 10am  We 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.********

Note: We only know about this meeting  because of the diligence of Maggie Mason -a former senior planning officer.    The Council have not replied to Leigh Day apart from an early acknowledgement to the letter

Meanwhile a petition has been handed to Tim Farron MP to give to the Secretary of State asking him to call the decision in for a public inquiry.
This is the full text of the Addendum Report from Cumbria County Council which will form the basis of ratification on 31st Oct.

DEVELOPMENT CONTROL AND REGULATION COMMITTEE 31st October 2019 A report by the Acting Executive Director for Economy and Infrastructure
_____________________________________________________________________
Application Reference No. 4/17/9007 Application Type: Full Planning Permission
Proposal:

Location:
Development of a new underground metallurgical coal mine and associated development including: the refurbishment of two existing drifts leading to two new underground drifts; coal storage and processing buildings; office and change building; access road; ventilation, power and water infrastructure; security fencing; lighting; outfall to sea; surface water management system and landscaping at the former Marchon site (High Road) Whitehaven;
a new coal loading facility and railway sidings linked to the Cumbrian Coast Railway Line with adjoining office / welfare facilities; extension of railway underpass; security fencing; lighting; landscaping; construction of a temporary development compound, and associated permanent access on land off Mirehouse Road, Pow Beck Valley, south of Whitehaven; and
a new underground coal conveyor to connect the coal processing buildings with the coal loading facility.
Former Marchon Site, Pow Beck Valley and area from Marchon Site to St Bees Coast, Whitehaven, Cumbria
This is an Addendum to the Report considered and approved by Members of DC & R Committee on 19th March 2019, together with the Update Report dated 19 March 2019 (referred to together in this report as the “Original Committee Report”). It considers the implications of a potential challenge to that decision.
_____________________________________________________________________
1.0 RECOMMENDATION
Having considered carefully the details of the letter from Leigh Day Solicitors, Committee resolve to ratify their original decision that:
Planning permission be GRANTED subject to:
i. The Committee determining the application on the basis of the reasons set out in the Original Committee Report as updated by this Addendum Report;
Applicant:
Date Valid:
Reason for Committee Level Decision:
West Cumbria Mining Ltd 31 May 2017
ii. the conditions set out in the Original Committee Report;
iii. the applicant (West Cumbria Mining) and other relevant interest holders first entering into a Section 106 legal agreement with the County Council covering the heads of terms set out in the Original Committee Report and an additional financial contribution of £68,327 index linked for improvements to the Mirehouse Road / St Bees Road junction and the Mirehouse Road / rail load facility access road junction; and
iv. The Secretary of State withdrawing the direction preventing the Council from granting planning permission.
2.0 BACKGROUND AND CONTEXT
2.1 In March 2019 the Committee resolved to grant planning permission for the Mine, subject to conditions and a s106 agreement to secure various obligations including highway and heritage improvements and also a restoration bond. The latest redline boundary plan for the planning application as submitted on 10th December 2018 is shown on the drawing in Appendix 1. The s106 agreement is nearing completion. However the Secretary of State has issued a direction under article 31 of the Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (England) Order 2015. This prevents the release of the Council’s decision until the Secretary of States decides whether to call in the application to determine it himself.
2.2 On the 21st June 2019 the Council received a letter from Leigh Day Solicitors acting on behalf of “Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole” (KCCH) who were one of a number of objectors to the planning application. The letter contended that there had been material changes in circumstances since the Committee`s resolution that required the application to be reconsidered by Committee. The letter also contended that there were a number of alleged flaws in our Original Committee Report that could form the basis of a legal challenge to the Council’s decision.
2.3 We have reviewed the contents of the letter carefully and decided to address those matters in an Addendum to our Original Committee Report, given the time available due to the Secretary of State’s direction. This report itemises each of those issues and provides our response to them. We have also taken the opportunity to propose adding an obligation to the S106 Agreement for a financial contribution to the Council to ensure that works to the access with the junction with the public highway and necessary improvements to the Mirehouse Road / St Bees Road junction are carried out. The works are necessary to ensure the safe access and egress to the site and at the Mirehouse Road / St Bees Road junction and this has been agreed with West Cumbria Mining.
2.4 Normally the only recourse to challenge a decision to grant planning permission is a Judicial Review after the planning permission has been issued. However because we have yet to release the formal decision notice, Leigh Day has raised the issues in advance and the additional agreed S106 obligation, it is considered appropriate in this particular instance for the Committee to ratify its original decision having considered the issues raised and the additional S106 obligation.

The key considerations are whether any of the issues raised would have been capable of affecting the outcome of the Council’s original decision.
3.0 ALLEGED CHANGES IN CIRCUMSTANCES
3.1 The Council needs to consider whether any alleged new factor would have been capable of affecting the outcome of the Committee’s decision. What is required is a change that might have had a material effect on the Committee’s deliberations had it occurred before the decision was made. The crucial question is whether the new factor might have led the Committee to reach a different decision.
3.2 It is considered that neither the liquidation of British Steel, nor the change to a zero net carbon target might have led to a different decision. However, given that the Committee is being updated in this report on other matters, for completeness and, as a matter of prudence, these matters are addressed below.
3.3 a) Leigh Day consider that with the liquidation of British Steel in May, this reduced the need for coking coal in the UK and as a result undermined the rationale for approving the planning application.
3.4 The position regarding the liquidation of British Steel naturally has the potential to be a fluid situation, which might potentially evolve or change again, but it is not considered a factor that might have led to a different Committee decision in any event.
3.5 However, an update is provided on what is understood to be the current position from publicly available information. British Steel now has a preferred buyer. A subsidiary of the Turkish Military Pension Fund has agreed Heads of Terms to buy the Company subject to a two month period of due diligence (Reported in BBC news 16th August 2019).The expectation is that the Company will continue to produce steel and with that, there will be a need for coking coal at British Steel.
3.6 In any event our recommendation was not premised on the need for coking coal being solely dependent upon the fortunes of British Steel. In paragraph 6.514 of our Original Committee Report we said that “the UK`s steel manufacturing industry requires a supply of suitable grade metallurgical coal and that this proposal will be able to provide the industry with this essential raw material for the foreseeable future”. Furthermore, “the supply of indigenous metallurgical coal to support the UK steel industry in place of imported coal is positive and should be afforded considerable weight”. It was clear that we were talking about the British steel industry as a whole in paragraph 6.514 and not one particular company. In paragraph 6.404 of the Original Committee Report we clearly identified not just British Steel as a major UK steel producer but also Tata Steel and Celsa. However, it was also noted in the Original Committee Report that the target markets were wider than the UK in that “A mine located at Whitehaven would therefore provide a more local source of this essential raw ingredient for the European steel industry (including the UK)” (paragraph 6.406) and that in this context “The proposed scheme envisages that around 180,000 tonnes of coking coal would be supplied annually to the UK steel plants at Scunthorpe and Port Talbot (360,000 tonnes total), with the remaining tonnage (just over 2 million tonnes) being transported to Redcar for onward distribution and / or export” (paragraph 6.412). Whilst there may be some current uncertainty around the future of British Steel, we do not accept that there has been a change in circumstance of such magnitude that it undermines or materially changes the overall “need” case for coking coal as set out in the Original Committee Report.
3.7 b) Leigh Day assert that the amendment to the Climate Change Act 2008 (on 27th June) to change the carbon reduction target for the UK from 80% lower than the 1990 baseline to 100% represents another material change in circumstance that impacts upon our original decision.
3.8 Our view here is that whilst the amendment makes the target more challenging, the assessment made in the Original Committee Report in respect of the impact on climate change and efforts to reduce CO2 emissions would not change materially as a result of the change in the carbon reduction target for the UK. In the event both were treated as a key considerations in our Original Committee Report. (See paragraphs 6.39 to 6.56 of the Original Committee Report).
4.0 ALLEGED FLAWS IN DECISION MAKING
4.1 a) Leigh Day argue that there has been a failure to consider greenhouse gases (GHG) resulting from the mining operations.
4.2 The greenhouse gas emissions of the mining operations were not estimated, because our assessment in the Original Committee Report proceeded on the basis that coal production at Whitehaven would substitute for coal production elsewhere. Therefore, we consider that the greenhouse gas emissions of the mining operations would be broadly carbon neutral.
4.3 In paragraph 6.47 we said that “the opening of the mine would be unlikely to create additional demand for coking coal as the demand for coking coal is led by the demand for steel. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that coking coal produced from a mine in the proposed location is very likely to end up as a substitute for coking coal produced further away”. Furthermore in paragraph 6.406 we said “since the opening of the new mine is unlikely to have any impact on the overall demand for steel, it is reasonable to assume that the coal extracted would be used primarily as a substitute for (as opposed to in addition to) coal currently extracted in other parts of the world and imported by ship”. What we meant by this is that the emissions from mining operations at Whitehaven would most likely be a substitute for those of similar operations elsewhere rather than being a source of additional emissions. Perhaps put more simply, if the coking coal from Whitehaven proved more competitive because it is located closer to steel manufacturing plants of the UK and Europe than the rest of the world, then mining operations elsewhere would be very likely to reduce their output by a similar level of production, leaving CO2 emissions from extraction and processing in balance globally. Furthermore, if the coal from

Whitehaven became less financially competitive than alternative sources, then there would be no market for its product, which would mean it would then remain in the ground, leading once again to a carbon neutral situation.
4.4 In paragraph 6.503 of the Original Committee Report we attributed moderate weight against the proposal from the release of CO2 emissions resulting from the extraction and processing of coal. It would have been clearer if this statement in 6.503 had simply said that greenhouse gas emissions globally as a result of the extraction and processing of coal would be broadly in balance. However, this point was made in other paragraphs of the Original Committee Report (paragraphs 6.47 and 6.406), and additional explanation has been provided above in respect of the thought processes behind the views set out in the Original Committee Report.
4.5 The applicant has made provision for the capture and reuse of methane when the mining system is sufficiently developed to freely liberate methane and allow it to be effectively captured. This is encouraged by Policy DC13 and a proposed planning condition is included as part of the Original Committee Report that requires a Mine Gas Capture Management scheme including for methane to be submitted and approved before mineral working takes place and requires the gases to be managed and used beneficially in accordance with the approved scheme.
4.6 In summary, whilst the greenhouse gas emissions of the mining operations are very likely to be carbon neutral, it is still considered that some carbon savings must exist from reduced transportation distances associated with the more locally sourced coking coal at Whitehaven, as noted in paragraphs 6.43 and 6.46 of the Original Committee Report. This supports the original recommendation in the Original Committee Report.
4.7 b) Leigh Day believe that there has been a failure to consider the need for, and GHG impacts of, middlings coal.
4.8 In the Original Committee Report at paragraph 6.68 we assessed middlings coal as a by-product of coking coal alongside waste (predominantly rock). In other words it would be extracted from underground at the same time. By implication therefore it would produce no more CO2 emissions than that necessary to extract coking coal.
4.9 Although the Original Committee Report did not calculate what CO2 emissions might arise from the eventual use of middlings coal, we identified cement manufacture as a possible use (paragraph 6.70) and in paragraph 6.71 we said “I do not consider its use a substitute for other products for non-energy generation uses in processes such as cement manufacture would result in unnecessary environmental or social impacts. There are valid arguments made in respect of climate change, but I consider these issues could be better managed by applying regulatory controls at the point of use. The planning system has no direct control over the eventual uses to which this product is put, but it would be expected they are used in accordance with government policies and regulations which are requiring a shift away from the use of coal as an energy source. If there was no demand for middlings

coal, it would be disposed of within the mine in the same way as the rock”.
4.10 The premise of the Original Committee Report was that middlings coal could have a beneficial use that would not result in unacceptable environmental or social impact and that it was not unreasonable to allow material extracted as a by-product of the coking coal operation (up to a maximum of 15% of coking coal production) to be used as a substitute for other sources of fuel in industrial processes (instead of requiring this product to be disposed of as mine waste).
4.11 The exact markets would be likely to change over time, although the applicant suggested the cement industry was one possible customer. The burning of middlings coal would undoubtedly result in the generation of some CO2, and it is for this reason that the Original Committee Report drew attention to the fact that “there are valid arguments made in respect of climate change” on that issue (paragraph 6.71). However, the Original Committee Report went on say that we considered that the control of climate change impacts from the middlings coal by- product would “be better managed by applying regulatory controls at the point of use” (paragraph 6.71).
4.12 The reason we considered regulatory controls at the point of use would be the best method of managing CO2 emissions is because of the difficultly in attempting to control the use of the middlings coal product through the planning system, since the uses to which a product is put is not a land use issue, and could not be controlled through the use of planning conditions or legal agreements. Furthermore, we do not consider that it would be possible to predict all the future markets for the product at a variety of unknown sites during the lifetime of the mine and be able to assess the environmental effects of using middlings coal or weigh the emissions in a carbon balance on the basis of what it might substitute for in any meaningful way. An assessment of this basis would not be a reasonable requirement to expect.
4.13 Industrial uses for the middlings coal would have impacts proportionate to the alternative fuel source it was substituting for, and in some cases this might be carbon neutral, but in others cases potentially not. However, an important issue that was made clear in the Original Committee Report at paragraph 6.70, is that middlings coal was not suitable for burning in thermal power stations due to its inherent characteristics and the nature of the boilers. Government policy in any case, is to stop coal being used to generate energy in the near future.
4.14 In acknowledging the valid arguments made in respect of climate change and the middlings coal, we were clear that this issue was weighed in the planning balance, but was not considered of sufficient weight as to justify the refusal of the planning permission for the extraction of coking coal, or to require a condition requiring disposal of the middlings coal product within the mine in order to make the development acceptable, as there were other determinative factors as set out above and in paragraphs 6.70, 6.71 and 6.74 of the Original Committee Report, including that there would be a condition restricting the output of middlings coal from the mine to a maximum of 15% as considered necessary as a matter of planning judgement.
4.15 c) Leigh Day allege a failure to consider the GHG impacts of an increase in

coal production.
4.16 This ground of alleged error is based on the assumption that the Whitehaven mine would add substantially to the global stock of fossil fuels and thereby increase the likelihood of GHG emissions. However, we did not consider that this was likely to be the case and this point has already been covered by my paragraph 4.1 a); there would be no increase in CO2 as the opening of the mine would be offset by the very likely reduction in production elsewhere due to competition.
4.17 The middlings coal by-product of the coking coal is addressed in 4.6 b) above.
4.18 It was also claimed that it would be possible for metallurgical coal to be exported further afield from Europe. In the Original Committee Report at paragraphs 6.408 and 6.410 however we confirmed that there was “undoubtedly a current demand within the UK and EU for coking coal” (para 6.413) and concluded that it was “reasonable to assume that demand for steel and coking coal will continue to exist both within the UK and EU for the foreseeable future” (para 6.414). In addition the Committee was told by Mr Kirkbride of WCM (see Committee minutes) “that two large steelworks (at Scunthorpe and Port Talbot) have expressed a desire to buy their product and that major steelmakers in Europe have expressed a wish to source coking coal locally instead of imports coming from afar, including the USA”. Whilst it is always possible for coal to be exported outside Europe and this cannot be controlled by the planning permission, there appeared sufficient demand for coking coal within it to justify the “need” case. Furthermore, if demand in Europe is lower than expected, then production would very likely reduce so it remains in balance with the available local markets. The more remote the potential market from the proposed Whitehaven mine site, the more likely a closer source to that potential market would be more economically competitive.
4.19 Leigh Day contend that the Whitehaven mine could depress the worldwide price of coal, which in turn could lead to an increase in demand. We acknowledged this as a duly made objection in paragraph 6.45 of the Original Committee Report. The issue was addressed in paragraphs 6.46 and 6.47 and we went onto say “however the opening of a mine would be unlikely to create additional demand for coking coal as the demand for coking coal is led by the demand for steel. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that coking coal produced from a mine in the proposed location is very likely to end up as a substitute for coking coal produced further away” (paragraph 6.47). The whole basis of our view now and then was that there is only a finite demand for steel and if you add capacity to the supply of coking coal, it is very likely that coking coal producers further afield would reduce their production whilst they sell off their surplus stocks and that coking coal produced from a mine in the proposed location would end up as a substitute for coking coal produced further away. As such, we consider that worldwide prices would generally be unaffected.
4.20 d) Leigh Day consider that we have acted unlawfully by failing to apply Policy ENV2 of the adopted Copeland Local Plan.(2013-2028)
4.21 Policy EV2 was not listed as a relevant Policy at paragraph 6.5 of the Original

Committee Report. What that Policy says is that:
“To reinforce the Coastal Zone`s assets and opportunities the Council will:
e) Protect the intrinsic qualities of the St Bees Head Heritage Coast in terms of development proposals within or affecting views from the designation. At the same time encourage schemes which assist appropriate access to and interpretation of the Heritage Coast area”
4.22 Although not listed, we took full account of the policy in the Original Committee Report and considered it to be relevant to the application. A Policy does not have to be specifically referred to by name as long as it is clear it was otherwise fully considered. That is how the policy was addressed in the Original Committee Report, which did deal with the implications for the Heritage Coast. At paragraph 6.375, the Original Committee Report states that “the development would have also have a moderate adverse impact relating to the heritage sensitivity of the St Bees Heritage Coast” This is repeated in paragraphs 6.383 and 6.507. I am satisfied that the matter was adequately addressed in the Original Committee Report and the Committee should take account of it.
5.0 S106 OBLIGATION
5.1 The Original Committee Report states that “Works would also be carried out to the Mirehouse Road / St Bees Road junction where the turning radius will be adjusted to improve the operational safety of the junction” (paragraph 6.267). Improvements are also needed to the Mirehouse Road / rail load facility access road junction. These works are necessary in relation to the development and the applicant has agreed to fund the Council to do the works as part of the S106 Agreement. It is proposed that the additional financial contribution will be added to the Agreement.
6.0 CONCLUSION
6.1 It is unusual to have such a long gap in time between Committee making a resolution and the release of a decision, but this has been unavoidable, given the Secretary of State direction to the Council not to grant planning permission until further notice from him. However, this has given Officers the opportunity to update and advise the Committee on the matters raised by Leigh Day, along with seeking Committee approval of the additional S106 contribution. In this case I am content on the basis of this report that there is nothing that would warrant a different recommendation or that would put the Council’s original decision at significant “risk” and members should take into account all of the previous material considerations as updated by this report, including the previous representations and objections.
6.2 Officers continue to consider that the proposed development accords with the Development Plan as a whole, it is recommended that planning permission is granted and there are no other material considerations that indicate otherwise.
Appendix 1

Ref No. 4/17/9007 Development Control and Regulation Committee –
APPENDIX 1 – PLAN OF SITE LOCATION/EXTENT 31 October
2019