New Partner – Javelin Global Commodities “aims to ramp up its coal trading”

This is PLANNED Under the Irish Sea just five miles from Sellafield – what could go wrong? We need to STOP THIS! 

New partner for West Cumbria Mining. London-based Javelin launched in 2015 and is 34 percent owned by U.S. coal miner Murray Energy, 28 percent owned by German utility E.ON and 38 percent owned by its principal traders, some of whom were previously at Goldman Sachs…
WCM have just published this here:
“West Cumbria Mining is pleased to announce that it has entered into an exclusive marketing and offtake agreement with Javelin Global Commodities.

This agreement represents a major milestone in the development of WCM’s flagship Woodhouse Colliery project and is a key step towards a world class underground metallurgical coal mine. It also demonstrates the confidence that Javelin has in a premium UK source of steelmaking coal and the long-term market demand for this sector critical product.

The agreement will see Javelin purchasing 100% of WCM’s production output and selling this to steelmaking customers in the UK and Europe, on terms which will reduce the payment time for coal deliveries from weeks to days. The structure will free up several million pounds of working capital facility on WCM’s balance sheet, providing significant assistance during the early years of the mine’s production.

West Cumbria Mining CEO, Mark Kirkbride, commented; ‘I am delighted to be able to announce this exclusive agreement with Javelin, following on from extensive dialogue and a very clear joint objective to ensure that Cumbrian steelmaking coal is supplied into the UK and European steel industry via a world class, highly respected specialist commodity trader. This is a key step for the project, and my team and I are looking forward to working collaboratively with Javelin to demonstrate real value and innovation to our customers.’

Peter Bradley, CEO of Javelin Global Commodities, (formerly MD of Goldman Sachs) commented; ‘Javelin is very pleased to be partnering with such an outstanding mining project and with a group of management and investors that have a history of delivering world class mining operations.

I am particularly excited to introduce this strong steel making coal to the domestic UK and European export markets at a time where competitively priced feedstock is needed to support the industry in its efforts to compete with low cost imports of steel. I am confident the project will get the final funding it needs, and Javelin looks forward to supporting West Cumbria throughout the development.”

SUPERFICIALLY this is being given a most shiny PR SPIN.   But there is a lot for sceptics to take notice of.
One of our Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole colleagues has made the observations that:
“Firstly, Javelin has been going less time than WCM has.  Founded in 2015 it has a complex control and accounting structure but it is essentially a couple of city blokes backed by a German finance company and a US coal company.  Secondly, you can see from both Kirkbride’s and Bradley’s comments that they are having difficulties getting funding and for why that might be you only need to research Sirius Mineralsover in the NYMNP.  Thirdly, Javelin has picked bad’uns before, see here.  Finally, Murray Energy, the coal company, are the main backers of Javelin and they are in deep trouble.  All in all they can spin it up but this looks like desperation from both of them.”

Good News that Sir David is On the Case!

This is an open letter to Sir David Attenborough who has recently voiced concern, and to all who have influence to stop the Cumbrian Coal mine in its tracks.

Dear Sir David Attenborough,
Thank you so much for recently voicing your concerns about the planned coal mine in West Cumbria.  
As a nuclear safety group concerned about the safety of Sellafield we have been opposing this nearby coal mine from the outset.  As you will know Sellafield is the most hazardous place in Europe with stockpiles of the most dangerous radioactive wastes on the planet. Given that this coal mine would extend to just 8km from Sellafield the possibility of liquefaction at Sellafield resulting from earthquakes in the West Cumbria area would be catastrophic on a planetary scale.  When I stood at the planning meeting and spoke to councillors about Sellafield being at high risk of liquefaction (as described in a recent geological report) they laughed.  
There are other considerations.  
The area is the last breeding place in England of the black guillemot and the RSPB have voiced opposition to the mine.  
Former Director of Friends of the Earth, Jonathon Porritt pointed out very early on that :”As I understand it, the sole justification from a sustainability point of view is that the extracted coal will be coking coal, not thermal coal (for use in power stations), with some preposterous notion that this will apparently produce a lower carbon footprint than coking coal imported from other countries. Yet so far as I can tell, no detailed lifecycle analysis, both direct and indirect, has been done by West Cumbria Mining, so why would anyone swallow that particular pile of coking crap?”    The coal mine would also have to mine ‘middlings” coal, cynically described as a ‘byproduct’ in order to get to the coking coal.
It seems to us that there are two very powerful things that you are uniquely placed to do to stop this coal mine entirely in its tracks.  

1. Ask the new Secretary of State, Robert Jenrick MP to call Cumbria County Council’s flawed decision in for a public inquiry.
2.   Ask Prince Charles to rip up the Crown’s existing and future planned agreements with West Cumbria Mining for the mineral exploitation of the coal under the seabed.  Without these agreements with the Crown, the coal mine cannot proceed.
This would make you our true knight in shining armour.  The black guillemots would not be the only ones celebrating!
Thank You.

Yours Sincerely,

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


YOU can help – please sign the petition and also write to the Secretary of State asking him to call Cumbria County Council’s crazy  decision in for a public inquiry 

The Momentum Grows to Stop the Coal Mine!



The momentum grows to stop the coal mine and the more that folk find out about this plan the more determined they are to oppose as evidenced by the protest yesterday organised by a Whitehaven lass and quite a few Whitehaven folk taking part including those whose lives would be directly blighted by this plan.

Good coverage from ITV Border but still the same old mantra repeated that this is coking what!  The enormous amount of ‘middlings coal’ also to be mined is cynically dismissed by West Cumbria Mining as a “by product.”  But middlings and coking coal will emit both methane and co2 in their mining and in their use.  There is no need for this mine either here or overseas there is no shortage of coking coal and certainly no need to open a new mine.

The risks of earthquake and subsidence of the sea bed in this vulnerable location near Sellafield is pretty much a taboo subject we have found.

Many thanks to organiser of the protest – a Whitehaven lass, Melanie – more power to all our collective elbows.  This is not a done deal and people can take action by writing to James Brokenshire and asking him to call in Cumbria County Council’s decision  

Here are some photos of the protest

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ITVs Border’s Lunchtime Coverage below.

(if anyone has a copy of the evening coverage we can share and post that here too.

Cumbria County Council Put On Notice

Dear Friends,

Thanks to so many of you who supported our call out for crowd funding way back in November 2017. Only With your help did we secure the advice of top Lawyers,  Leigh Day.

Leigh Day have on our instruction written an excellent letter to Cumbria County Council putting them *on notice* that their approval of the first deep coal mine in the UK in 30 years puts the Council at serious risk of legal challenge.

The downside to this is that we now have no funds left for legal challenge and we are exploring the possibility of a brave soul stepping up who is eligible for legal aid.

Below is a press release sent out to all press (the press most notably the national press have so far abandoned any attempt at journalistic honesty in reporting on this coal mine and our battle to stop it)



Campaigners battling to stop the first deep coal mine in the UK in 30 years have issued a warning to Cumbria County Council that their unanimous vote of approval on 19th March 2019 could be the focus of a legal challenge.

The letter issued by top environmental lawyers Leigh Day acting on behalf of Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole puts the Council on notice that there is a *serious risk of legal challenge.*

In March Cumbria County Council’s Development Control and Regulation Committee resolved that planning permission should be granted for a major new underground metallurgical coal mine on the former Marchon Chemical Works site in Whitehaven, Cumbria. Finalised planning permission is not actually expected to be granted for at least a few months as West Cumbria Mining and others need to enter into a special 106 agreement for example with surrounding landowners in advance of that final permission being granted. KCCH was also informed, on 13 June 2019, that the Secretary of State is still considering whether to call-in the application for his own determination and that he does not expect to make a decision on this before July.

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole is a Radiation Free Lakeland campaign, RaFL is a small civil society group whose primary focus is on nuclear safety, the mine would extend to 5 miles from Sellafield. KCCH was one of the many objectors to the planning application focussing its objections on environmental grounds.

The letter sent to Cumbria County Council on 20th June from Leigh Day informs the County Council of a number of flaws and omissions in their planning assessment and invites the Committee to formally re-consider its resolution to grant permission.

The issues and legal flaws are listed and described in detail in the letter. They include Cumbria County Council’s failures to consider:

GHG emissions of the mining operations
The need for, and GHG impacts of, Middlings Coal
GHG impacts of an increase in coal production.
4. Failure to consider and apply Policy ENV2 of Copeland’s Local Plan (2013 to 2028)

The letter 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. The Council’s officers are asked to facilitate that process. In the event that the Council refuses to reconsider its resolution to grant, KCCH requests that the Council provide its reasons for doing so.*

Marianne Birkby from KCCH says *we are delighted that Leigh Day have agreed to represent campaigners battling to stop this coal mine which is disastrous on so many different levels and we hope that Cumbria County Council take this opportunity rethink their decision which will impact on so many generations to come*

Anna Dews, solicitor at Leigh Day, said: *We are in the midst of a global climate crisis and our client is strongly of the view that Cumbria Country Council must now rethink its resolution to grant planning permission for the Whitehaven Coalmine. In doing so it will have to reconcile the fact that coal-fired power was the biggest single contributor to the rise of emissions in 2018 with the need to urgently tackle the climate crisis in the local area.*

Rowan Smith, solicitor at Leigh Day, added *Since the Committee resolved to grant planning permission, British Steel (one of the proposed main recipients of the coal) went into compulsory liquidation and the UK government laid legislation in parliament for a net zero Climate Change Act target. Our client KCCH strongly believes that these developments are very persuasive reasons for the Committee to rethink its decision. If it does not, then KCCH will be prepared to take legal action.


Main Text of the Letter to Cumbria County Council- references available


As you are aware, on 19 March 2019, Cumbria County Council’s Development Control and Regulation Committee (the Council; the Committee) resolved that planning permission should be granted for a major new underground metallurgical coal mine on the *former Marchon* site in Whitehaven, Cumbria subject to various matters including the execution of a section 106 agreement. This permission, if and when actually granted (presumably by an officer acting under delegated powers), will allow for 50 years’ of continuous coal-mining operations. At full capacity, the mine will produce 2,430,000 tonnes per annum of *coking coal* and 350,000 tonnes per annum of *middlings coal*(otherwise known as *industrial coal*).

KCCH was one of the many objectors to the planning application, focussing its objections on environmental grounds. KCCH noted the lack of any carbon footprint assessment of the emissions from the mining activities and it doubted the applicant’s (West Cumbria Mining) allegations of expected CO2 savings from import substitution of coking coal.

KCCH does not expect planning permission actually to be granted for at least a few months from the date of this letter, having regard to the need for WCM and others to enter into a significant section 106 agreement in advance of any permission being granted. KCCH was also informed, on 13 June 2019, that the Secretary of State is still considering whether to call-in the application for his own determination and that he does not expect to make a decision on this before July.

Consequently, it may be some time before a grant of planning permission could be made. KCCH nonetheless seeks – by way of this letter – to inform the County Council of a number of flaws and omissions in the planning assessment underlying the Committee’s resolution to grant. We consider that these flaws also represent a number of grounds for a legal challenge, should any subsequent decision to grant planning permission be based on the same reasoning/assessment. Through this letter we, therefore, intend to put the Council on notice that there is a serious risk of legal challenge, should any such planning permission be granted.

Furthermore, we invite the Committee to formally re-consider its resolution to grant permission (and by this letter ask officers to refer the matter back to the Committee for that purpose), taking into account the substance of each of the matters raised below. Each of the matters is plainly a material consideration which could, and we believe would, lead the Committee to reverse its previous resolution.

With that in mind we note that British Steel went into compulsory liquidation in May, putting 5,000 jobs at risk and prompting a Parliamentary inquiry which will consider the serious challenges being faced by the UK steel sector. We consider that this recent news fundamentally undermines the *need* case for *coking coal* in the UK market. As a result, it materially impacts on the Council’s assessment that 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” and its conclusion that there will be a *likely need* for metallurgical coal for the steel industry which has the potential to result in *national benefits* of *considerable weight* (officer’s report at 6.514).

For this reason alone, we request that the Committee formally reconsider its resolution to grant. There has been a clear change to the factual circumstances underlying the resolution made on 19 March and it cannot be known whether the Committee would reach the same conclusion again in light of these new facts.

Issues and legal flaws

Failure to consider GHG emissions of the mining operations

There can be no doubt that the mine will emit green-house gases (GHG) through its production processes. This was accepted by officers in the report to the Committee (OR) at 6.44. KCCH can see no evidence that the applicant provided any estimate for the GHG emissions arising from the mining operations themselves. It appears that the only assessment of site emissions is in Chapter 15 of the Environmental Impact Assessment, but this concerned local air quality impacts and dust emissions.

The development’s impact on climate change was central to the planning balance. The Committee was required to consider this under both national and local policy. In carrying out the balancing act at *stage 1* of the NPPF paragraph 211 test (and the policy test in DC13 of the Cumbria Minerals and Waste Local Plan), the emissions from mining operations were afforded *moderate weight”*(officer report at 6.503). This is the same broad category of weight (“moderate”) afforded to the potential benefits alleged to arise through GHG savings from import substitution of coking coal (at 6.502). However, whilst a crude estimate (5.3 million tonnes of CO2) was provided for the alleged GHG savings, there is no equivalent estimate for the expected emissions from the operations themselves.

It follows that the mine’s GHG emissions was a material consideration that was left out of account. Furthermore, the Committee could not rationally balance (as it needed to do) (i) the alleged GHG savings against (ii) the new GHG emissions, without comparable (and robust) information on each.

Failure to consider the need for, and GHG impacts of, Middlings Coal

The production of middlings coal will constitute up to 15% of total output. This is roughly 364,000 tonnes per annum and is a significant amount of production. It correlates, for example, to the 360,000 tonnes per annum of coking coal that will be supplied to UK steel plants.

In stark contrast to the Committee’s assessment of the coking coal to be produced from the mine, the Committee has failed to lawfully consider the need for the middlings coal – both in terms of the level of demand for it and where that demand will arise.

The OR states, at 6.70 that:

…since government policy is to move away from coal as an energy source, the likely market for this product will be industrial processes such as cement manufacture. Since the middlings coal would otherwise be disposed of with the waste rock material, I consider that if markets are available for this product for non-energy uses, this is potentially a beneficial use of a product that would otherwise be disposed of as waste. (emphasis added)

There is no further assessment of whether such markets are available, nor where they are located (whether in the UK, Europe or elsewhere in the world). There is no consideration of the likelihood of import substitution for middlings coal, or the CO2 emissions associated with transporting it to its end destination. Moreover, the Committee failed to consider whether – if permission were to be refused – any *need* for middlings coal would be likely to be met by imported industrial coal or lower carbon-emitting sources.

In short, the Committee failed to have regard to the carbon footprint of the middlings coal and its potential GHG emissions impacts. This failing fundamentally undermined any assessment of the development’s overall impact on climate change.

It was irrational for the Committee to consider only the potential carbon footprint of the coking coal and not all coal to be produced. What is more, the Council has suggested a 15% restriction on the production of middlings coal, without providing any reasons why this is a suitable limit (see the officer’s report at 6.72-6.74).

Failure to consider the GHG impacts of an increase in coal production

The UK Parliament passed a motion to declare a climate emergency on 1 May 2019. As the High Court recently stated, the increase in global temperatures is *potentially catastrophic* (R (Spurrier and others) v Secretary of State for Transport [2019] EWHC 1070 (Admin) at [559]). In this context, it was imperative on the Committee to scrutinise any potential for an increase in GHG impacts arising from increased coal production at Whitehaven. It failed to do so.

Any addition to the global stock of fossil fuels will de facto increase the likelihood of GHG emissions. If the Whitehaven Coalmine were to be permitted, a very substantial amount of coal will be added to the global stock over a very significant amount of time (50 years). This will clearly increase GHG emissions and is a highly material consideration that the Council should have had regard to.

This is notwithstanding any (non-binding) intentions of the applicant that the coal to be produced will not be used for power-generation industries (KCCH have particular concerns that there is little guarantee on how the middlings coal will eventually be used and nothing to prevent it from being used in power-generation industries).


It is also notwithstanding any (again non-binding) intentions of the applicant that some of the coal to be produced will substitute for imports that would otherwise have had to travel further (with associated transport-related CO2 emissions). In addition to there being no assessment of import-substitution in relation to middlings coal (see point 2 above), KCCH highlights that the vast majority of coking coal will be exported (only 360,000 tonnes is destined for the UK steel plants at Scunthorpe and Port Talbot).

Nothing in the proposed planning permission restricts these exports to Europe (or Western Europe) and it remains entirely possible for the applicant to export the coal further afield (particularly as the permission will remain in place for 50 years, over which time the markets for both coking coal and middlings coal will continue to change). If the coal is exported further afield, the alleged GHG savings from import substitution could easily be cancelled out, or outweighed by additional transport emissions associated with exported coal from the mine to non-European destinations.

The Committee should have considered these possibilities but failed to do so.

Worldwide prices

Finally, the increase in coal production could lead to a depreciation in the worldwide price of coal which could, in turn, lead to an increase in demand for coal. The OR noted that this concern had been raised (at 6.45) but concluded that it was an issue *far broader than can be addressed or influenced through this planning application* (at 6.50). That is not a sustainable answer.

This conflicts with the approach taken by the Secretary of State in his decision on the Highthorn open cast coal mining development at Druridge Bay in south-east Northumberland. In assessing this application, the Inspector did consider whether the additional production of coal could affect international prices, albeit he concluded that it could not (at C114 of the report) and the Secretary of State did not disagree with this position (para 34 of the letter). Notably, the Highthorn mine proposes to extract significantly less coal than at Whitehaven (the total amount of coal to be extracted will be a maximum of 3 million tonnes) and for a much shorter period (5 years).

Climate Change Act 2008

The failings noted at points 1-3 above also prevented the Committee from fully appreciating, and having regard to, the Development’s contribution to the UK’s CO2 emissions, in a context where the Government has set legally binding national targets to cut emissions by 80% of 1990 levels by 2050 through the Climate Change Act 2008 (in order to comply with the UK’s international commitments to keep the global temperature rise to 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels in 2050).

What is more, on 12 June 2019 legislation was laid before Parliament designed to implement the Government’s announcement that the UK will eradicate its net contribution to climate change by 2050. The legislation will amend the Climate Change Act 2008 to achieve this and it is expected to greatly enhance the duties imposed by the Act. We consider this recent announcement to be another material change in circumstances, since the resolution to grant, mandating reconsideration by the Committee.

Failure to consider and apply ENV2

Policy ENV2 of Copeland’s Local Plan (2013-2028) is not listed as a relevant policy for the Development in the OR. However, it states 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.

The Development clearly impacts on the St Bees Heritage Coast area. Officers advised that it would have a *moderate adverse impact* on the heritage sensitivity of St. Bees Heritage Coast (at 6.375 and 6.383).

However, there appears to have been no consideration whatsoever of development plan policy ENV2 and whether the *intrinsic qualities* of the St Bees Heritage Coast could be protected. As a result, the Committee has unlawfully failed to have regard to a relevant policy in the development plan.


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. The Council’s officers are asked to facilitate that process.

In the event that the Council refuses to reconsider its resolution to grant, KCCH requests that the Council provide its reasons for doing so.

Please send all future correspondence in this matter to Rowan Smith and Anna Dews, solicitors with conduct of this matter, using the details in our letterhead.
Yours faithfully,
Leigh Day


Thank you for signing the petition Call in the Decision and Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole (its too near Sellafield), can you help spread the word by forwarding the link below to your friends?

MANY Thanks

Marianne Birkby

Tweet of the Day! Stop the Cumbrian Coal Mine – Only Nesting Place of Black Guillemot in England

Dear Friends,


as you may know Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole is a small group, with a small reach so we need all of you to help and please sign the petition to the Secretary of State James Brokenshire asking him to CALL IN CUMBRIA COUNTY COUNCIL’s OUTRAGEOUS DECISION

You may not know that St Bees is the only place in England where the amazing black guillemot nests – this coal mine so close to Sellafield threatens us all, not just the black guillemot!




Nightmare Coal Mine Near Sellafield – Ooops don’t mention Sellafield.

Many thanks to Real Media for posting a guest blog – the background story and info about the coal mine fiasco that you won’t see in the main stream media.  There is an updated version below…


Featured Image -- 13693

Like one of those nasty nightmares that pulls the dreamer to an inevitable conclusion it is shocking that on March 19th in Kendal, Cumbria County Council approved the plan for the first deep coal mine in the UK in decades. Nevertheless it is rather suspicious that the Committee voted unanimously to give the green light to the diabolic plan. But then, there were no background noises of dissent in the years ahead of the planning decision that might have made the Committee think twice. Quite the opposite. There was almost universal silence from the national media.


Protest staged by Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole after the Unanimous vote by the Development Control and Regulation Committee of Cumbria County Council on 19th March.  Photo credit: Philip Gilligan South Lakeland  CND

Silence, apart that is, from the occasional coverage which seemed to
come direct from the developer’s press releases. There were no outraged editorials or national campaigns by big NGOs. No mention from climate guru George Monbiot. This is despite the fact that the obscene coal mine plan was rumbling nightmarishly along for so many years. Only the blogosphere was raising the alarm. Including a very strong and early shout out from Jonathon Porritt.
Radiation Free Lakeland are a civil society group concerned with nuclear safety. We started a dedicated campaign in 2017 to Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole because we could see that this plan was going massively under the radar and because it is so damn near Sellafield’s growing stockpiles of highly active and uniquely dangerous radioactive wastes. Our frustrations grew about the coal mine and the big silence from big hitters. As a voluntary group our public reach is small. We witnessed the aggressive PR and lobbying campaign by the developers. This lobbying by the developers included winning the hearts and minds of Green minded folk  MPs and Government Departments with the hugely deceitful mantra of we ‘need a massive new coking coal mine to make the steel for wind turbines’ and presenting to the public a homey image of West Cumbria Mining despite the major shareholder being a Cayman Island fund controlled via Singapore by managers based in Australia and HongKong. For ourselves we had a premonition about the way this was going and crowdfunded to enable us to continue to fight the plan with a Judicial Review should Cumbria County Council be led down the enticing garden path to the coal mine.
At the 11th hour it was such a relief to see some big hitters publicly putting their shoulders to the wheel to stop the mine. This included Scientists for Global Responsibility whose Director Dr Stuart Parkinson spoke at the Planning Meeting saying : “I have calculated that during the main production phase the mine would lead to emissions of over 9 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent for every year it is in operation. This amount is similar to the annual emissions of over 1 million British citizens. ”

And Dr Laurie Michaelis who has “worked on climate-related issues for thirty five years, been a lead author for reports of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – the IPCC – and provided technology policy advice for the UK government, European Commission and UN climate negotiators.” Dr Michaelis went on to say that: “Speaking to you feels like possibly the single most important thing I’ll do in my life….Your officers have not obtained suitable expert advice to correct the misinformation…When coal is used to make steel, 99% of the carbon content ends up as CO2 in the atmosphere….Thousands could die early because of heatwaves, disease and other causes. You will share responsibility with WCM, steel manufacturers and final users. If you refuse, coal might be sourced elsewhere; that’s the kind of argument people often use to justify wrongdoing. You can prevent this coal from being used.”

While we have as a group been lobbying climate activists for years now to actively oppose the coal mine, we have also been campaigning on the uniquely dangerous environmental impacts of this coal mine. The close proximity to Sellafield’s stockpiles of highly active radioactive wastes could have catastrophic impacts not just for Cumbria but for the whole of Europe. The deaths resulting from a seismically induced catastrophe at Sellafield could be in the millions, not the thousands described by climate scientists as a result of climate impacts from the coal mine.

Sellafield from St Bees

Sellafield viewed from St Bees

Despite this the Office for Nuclear Regulation has washed its hands of any responsibility and has provided the County Council with an excuse to be nonchalant about the close proximity of the mine to Sellafield . The ONR’s official remit to consult on planning applications is 7.4 km from Sellafield. The coal mine extends to 8km from Sellafield ie 600 metres difference.


Gov Map  GDF.png
It has not gone unnoticed by Radiation Free Lakeland that the coal mine plan extends to right up to the area under the Irish Sea that is has been earmarked as ‘suitable’ as a possible site


Image based on West Cumbria Mining’s own map

for the geological disposal of the decades of nuclear wastes resulting from the nuclear civil military industrial complex.

Nor has it gone unnoticed that there is a revolving door between the government body tasked with “facilitating geological disposal” and West Cumbria Mining. Mark Kirkbride West Cumbria Mining’s CEO has a portfolio which includes “deep geological disposal investigations” while Steve Reece formerly Operations Director of West Cumbria Mining is now Head of Site Evaluation at the government body Radioactive Waste Management who are tasked with ‘delivery’ of a Geological Disposal Facility for high level nuclear wastes.  There may be nothing suspicious in this revolving door but we have to say that the silence over this diabolic new coal mine has been almost deliberate, almost like a Defence Advisory notice or something along similar lines has been issued on this coal mine plan. A coal mine which has, ironically the full support of the nearby nuclear industry!  The Guardian’s Adam Vaughan told us in all seriousness that the paper’s editors have said they would ‘report on the plan when a decision has been made.’ That kind of Orwellian journalistic policy was guaranteed to keep the public in the dark. When the coal mine was approved what they and other media outlets did not report in their crocodile tears of mock shock and horror was that the folk who have been actively campaigning against the plan from the beginning are nuclear safety campaigners.  This not been mentioned anywhere in the National press neither has the close proximity to Sellafield, with one exception – the German Newspaper, Taz.

This coal mine should have been stopped as a result of public outcry on climate grounds alone, but it wasn’t because the public have effectively been kept in the dark about it. We are wondering Why?  


We have already delivered a petition of 1527 signatures to the Secretary of State James Brokenshire. We are however keeping the petition open to show the strength of feeling against the coal mine.  PLEASE SIGN AND OR SEND James Brokenshire a letter urging him to call in the decision (see below).

Westmorland and Lonsdale MP, Tim Farron has written asking for the decision to be called in and he has been vehemently condemned for this by the Mayor of Copeland, Mike Starkie who was reported in the local press as saying that Farron should “Butt Out of West Cumbria” Tim Farron has pointed out that Climate impacts from the mine won’t stop at Scafell. We agree and would also point out that neither would Nuclear impacts.

We believe that the more people and groups that write and request that the Secretary of State calls in the decision made by Cumbria County Council the better as a show of force will demonstrate the strength of feeling against the mine.

The letter should be addressed to James Brokenshire MP, the 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

Our full letter can be found here – even a paragraph would be good to send to the Secretary of State– the main point to make is that West Cumbria Mining has not given figures on CO2 Emissions. There are no independent assessments. There has been no detailed scrutiny or debate on the close proximity of deep mining to Sellafield’s high level radioactive wastes.

Marianne Birkby
Founder of Radiation Free Lakeland
Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole is a RaFL campaign



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