STOP THE COAL MINE IN CUMBRIA -PETITION

PLEASE SIGN THE PETITION –  LETS SEND CUMBRIA COUNTY COUNCIL THE MESSAGE 

STOP THE COAL MINE

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Nearly 4000 people, including Chris Packham have signed the petition to Stop the Coal Mine in Cumbria – Please keep sharing and signing.  As well as signing the petition – People can STILL WRITE individual letters to Cumbria County Councillors who will be making the decision on this to let them know STOP THE COAL MINE!

The main points to make are that this mine would fly in the face of the Council’s own climate commitments and its own stated commitments to protect the health, safety (this is 8km from Sellafield) and well being of all Cumbrians. Send an email to development.control@cumbria.gov.uk –or if you have time to all the Development Control and Regulation Committee members  quoting the application reference number 4/17/9007 and including your name and address.

 

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole say: Turn Down Dangerous Coal Mine Plan, For Cumbria and For the Planet

Yesterday was the last ‘official’ date to send in objections to the new ‘amended’ planning application.  You can still send in letters of objection up to the Planning Meeting which is scheduled for the 8th July (if this goes by previous form the meeting will be rescheduled again and again).  Please do send in letters to members of the planning committee. (They have voted yes to this diabolic plan twice before,).

This is the Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole objection …

                                          15th June 2020

West Cumbria Mining: Planning Application Ref 4/17/9007: 

Woodhouse Colliery, High Road, Whitehaven

Dear Development Control and Regulation Committee,

I write on behalf of Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole, a campaign by Radiation Free Lakeland to ask that the County Council do not approve this amended planning application

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). This would be followed by the ‘profit making’ offshore phase.   On 20 June 2019, our lawyers Leigh Day wrote to Cumbria County Council. The letter addressed a number of legal issues, including Cumbria County Council’s failures to consider:

  • Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of the mining operations
  • The need for, and GHG impacts of, Middlings Coal
  • The Government’s Net Zero target.

Despite being alerted to those concerns, Cumbria County Council ratified its decision on 31 October 2019. Mrs Justice Beverley Lang agreed that those legal issues  we raised were arguable and justified a public hearing.

In order it seems to circumvent the scrutiny afforded by Judicial Review and the criticisms levelled in the Green Alliance report the Developers have now submitted a new planning application.  This is despite the  CEO of West Cumbria Mining publicly stating that : “If you asked me to get planning for another one, I would say it would be impossible right now unless something significantly changed,”  Mark Kirkbride, British Tunnelling Society lecture reported in New Civil Engineer 26th February 2020    

The CEO of West Cumbria Mining went on to say:

“When we applied for planning it was a different set of planning rules. Now if you were to submit planning you’d have to try and do whole life greenhouse gas assessments.”  Given that steel can and should be produced without the use of coking coal – the additional GHG emissions arising from the use of coking coal from this mine to make steel should be taken into account . 

The amended planning application while attemping to address the original challenges we raised has compounded our concerns about the cumulative impacts of this mine. Regarding climate The use of coal from this mine will undermine the government’s net zero target, carbon budgets and policy to adhere to the Paris Agreement. 

NEW PROCESS TO TURN THERMAL/MIDDLINGS COAL INTO COKING COAL

The original big selling point of this mine proposal was that it would produce “premium” quality coking coal. In order to answer legitimate criticisms on the previous ‘by-product’ of middlings, the developers propose now to turn the 15% (or more) by-product of middlings/thermal coal into coking coal.  The details on this are sketchy. WCM say that in order to turn the thermal coal to coking coal there will be an additional process to enhance separation and removal of pyritic sulphur matter but then go on to claim optimistically that: 

“ Since this adjustment relates only to the internal process …. and no difference to external appearance …. it is not considered that it will give rise to any material effects of the proposal.”   This is clearly impossible – the removal of pyritic sulphur and the myriad other polluting imupurites from the middlings would leave an additional and unaddressed toxic footprint.  There would also be additional energy and freshwater usage.   In order to address the issue of the new and inferior quality of product, West Cumbria Mining propose a relaxation of the conditions that determine the specification for metallurgical coal.  The developer justifies a relaxation on the grounds that the original specification does not reflect the (now inferior) product that will be the final output from the Woodhouse Colliery, specifically with regard to ash and sulphur content.  WCM are also asking for removal of the condition that the product must be used only for steelmaking.  This is entirely understandable as once exported, WCM have no way of ensuring their coal is used solely for steel making (despite their considerable PR in this regard). 

METHANE

The WCM report by Dr Neil Bristow says that “WCM is committed and obliged to install a methane capture and drainage system. …It will be put to use as an energy source of the mine with no atmospheric impact.”    This disingenously suggests the impossible namely that 100% of the methane emitted by the mine (continuously by the exposed and broken coal) would be “used” …”with no atmospheric impact.” In the first two decades after its release, methane is 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide Overall it is roughly 30 times more potent than CO2 as a GHG.   WCM propose to build the methane capture plant by year 5.  Calculations have been done independently which suggest that “ 13.9MCu m of methane could be produced and if the Capture system is not operational by then (year 5) it is possible that 38.75M cu m will be released before then. That is an equivalent effect on the atmosphere of 856486 T of Co2.  From year 5 the Methane capture plant will need to capture about 13.9Mcu m per year if there is to be ‘no atmospheric impact’. Where will it be stored? To put this volume into context the old style town gasometers held about 50000cu m. So WCM are planning to capture and store the equivalent of 5.3 gasometers per week, every week!!!   This is a substantive GHG impact on which the council needs information.

POLICY DC20 THE WATER ENVIRONMENT

Cumbria County Council’s Policy DC20 states “Proposals for developments should demonstrate that they would have no unacceptable quantitative or qualitative adverse effects on the water environment, both within the application site and its surroundings, including surface waters, coastal waters, private water supplies and groundwater resources. Proposals that minimise water use and include sustainable water management will be favoured.” 

FRESH WATER

Despite requests to them for information by us and other NGOs, West Cumbria Mining have not demonstrated what the impact on ground water will be.  There is no information in the public domain regarding the projected quantity of freshwater abstraction from the Byerstead Fault or potential hydrological impact.   This is an important issue in West Cumbria which is already suffering from fresh water stress.   WCM again use disingenous language to suggest that virtually all freshwater would be recycled suggesting that there would be minimal abstraction.  There is no indication of exactly how much water WCM expect to abstract per day from the Byerstead Fault – a named geological fault.  The Marine Conservation Zone documentation describes it thus.. “This site lies within the boundary of the rMCZ11 and is situated in Saltom Bay on the Cumbrian coast north of St Bees Head. The site includes an area known locally as Byerstead Fault, a recovering intertidal zone that is showing a return of species diversity..

“Water is heavily used in coal processing and would be obtained from the following sources: Groundwater (Byerstead Fault) “   

WCM presentation to CCC 19th March 2019

Cumbria County Council’s Minerals and Waste Local Plan states:

  • “16.36  Proposals will, therefore, be required to demonstrate that they do not have unacceptable adverse impacts on water resources. Any adverse impact should be avoided or, if unavoidable, suitable mitigation measures should be proposed. Unacceptable quantitative or qualitative impacts are those which are deemed so by the Environment Agency, as part of the planning application process.
  • 16.37  Sites proposed for development will need to be subject to site specific hydro- geological assessment, in order to determine their acceptability. Some factors influencing this process are the type of facility, the pollution control measures adopted, the potential impacts on groundwater resources and the groundwater vulnerability of the site.
  • 16.38  With respect to mineral applications, there is a requirement to establish the relationship that the development has with the water table. If the base of the excavation is near or below the anticipated water table, then there will be a requirement to establish an appropriate monitoring scheme. In some circumstances, the development may be considered unacceptable if it is carried out below the level of the water table”. 

Not only will WCM be abstracting fresh water from the Byerstead Fault but the development is in the region of the West Cumbria Aquifer – a water resource that is currently used to provide fresh water for much of West Cumbria.  A region that is heavily faulted and complex.

WCM have revealed so litte detail about their fresh water usage that there can be no proper scrutiny or oversight by Cumbria County Council or the public.
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Aquifer beneath West Cumbria in the vicinity of WCM proposal

Image: BGS

 

 

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The image above is from ESI retained by WCM for “hydrological and hydrogeological support”. 

The amended planning application gives no idea of exactly how much water  would be abstracted from the Byerstead Fault (see above) at peak production of the mine – or of the damage likely to be caused by this abstraction

HAZARDOUS INSTALLATIONS – COAL AND NUCLEAR WASTE AT SELLAFIELD (and DRIGG)

When preparing Local Plans, local planning authorities are required to have regard to the prevention of major accidents and limiting their consequences. They must also consider the long-term need for appropriate distances between hazardous establishments and population or environmentally sensitive areas. They must also consider whether additional measures for existing establishments are required so that risks to people in the area are not increased.

Cumbria County Council are no exception and the Minerals and Waste Local Plan states that:

  • 5.102. “Permission should not be given for the extraction of coal unless the proposal is environmentally acceptable, or can be made so by planning conditions or obligations; or if not, it provides national, local or community benefits which clearly outweigh the likely impacts to justify the grant of planning permission”. 

and…

13.23  In some cases, a proposed development may itself have multiple environmental impacts that would be acceptable on their own, but which may exacerbate adverse impacts caused by other developments. Such cumulative environmental impacts can derive either from a number of developments with similar impacts being operational at the same time in an area, or from a number of concurrent developments in an area with different impacts or from a succession of similar developments over time. They can include the impacts of noise or traffic, and impacts on local communities, the landscape, water resources or wildlife habitats.

  • 13.24  Local Plan policy needs to take account of the extent to which a particular locality, community, environment or wider area can reasonably be expected to tolerate such adverse cumulative impacts. This may involve mitigation of impacts or the timing of permissions and phasing of operations to make a proposal acceptable. Where cumulative impact presents a potential issue, applicants should be able to demonstrate that this has been adequately assessed and addressed in a planning application.

The Office for Nuclear Regulation’s official remit to consult on planning applications is 7.4 km from Sellafield. The coal mine extends to 8km from Sellafield i.e. 600 metres difference. In the absence of any detailed regard to cumulative impacts by either the developers or Cumbria County Council or the regulators we have commissioned a Briefing Paper on the radiological implications of West Cumbria Mining’s plan.

The author of the paper, Tim Deere-Jones is an Independent & non-aligned Marine Pollution Researcher & Consultant whose clients include: WWF, The UK Wildlife Trusts, European Climate Foundation, Greenpeace International, European Coastal Local Authorities and many others.

This comprehensive report concludes that the plan by West Cumbria Mining should be abandoned.

The introduction and Major Conclusions are reproduced below…..

Introduction:                                                                                                                                                        This Briefing offers a review of the possible seabed morphological changes and marine pollution implications of the sub-sea coal mining venture proposed by West Cumbria Mining (WCM) at their Woodhouse Colliery site near St Bees Head.

WCM have designated and identified a sub-sea mining zone of the Irish Sea lying to the west of St Bees Head and extending at least 8kms offshore and southwards to within about 8km of the Sellafield site.

The WCM extraction proposals, using continuous mining methods, predict the extraction of approximately 3 million tonnes of coal per year over a 50 year period. This extraction rate will eventually generate a huge subterranean void space of approximately 136 million cubic metres (a volume greater than that of Wastwater Lake).

This briefing considers the impact of the creation of such a sub-sea void space on the possibility of sea bed subsidence in the area of the WCM designated sub-sea mining zone, and the subsequent potential for marine radiological pollution as a result of the subsidence induced re-suspension of the heavily radioactively contaminated sea bed sediments of the Cumbrian Mud Patch and surrounding sea bed areas.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….  

Major Conclusions

It is noted that there is a lack of data about the status of the existing historical galleries and workings of the West Cumbrian Coalfield. 

It is noted that there is a lack of accurate data about the history and status of any subsidence seismicity in the coalfield.  

It is noted that the BGS have concluded that the coalfield is heavily faulted and has a long history of subsidence and that it appears that there are no plans to monitor for any subsidence prior to, during the operational phase or in the post operational phase of the Woodhouse Colliery.  

It is noted that sub-sea monitoring equipment is available and could be deployed in the region in order to monitor for any subsidence effects arising as a result of the proposed Woodhouse Colliery “mass removal” extraction.

It is concluded that there is a real potential for subsidence to occur as a result of the “mass removal” and the creation of extensive sub-sea void spaces, and it is noted that such subsidence could generate earthquake and liquefaction effects which may extend onshore as far as the Sellafield/Moorside sites.

It is concluded that any seabed subsidence in the WCM designated sub-sea mining zone would generate re-suspension of Cumbrian Mud Patch heavily radioactive seabed sediments. It is noted that such an event would generate elevated doses of man-made radioactivity to coastal zone populations and sea users along both the Cumbrian coast and at “downstream” regions further afield.

Given the potential for such a radiological effect and the delivery of increased doses of radioactivity to relevant coastal zone communities, some of which have already been identified by the authorities as Coastal Critical Groups, the Woodhouse Colliery proposal (especially in the absence of any precautionary mandatory subsidence monitoring) is strongly contra-indicated and should be abandoned”

The full report is attached as a pdf

CONCLUSION

The weight of evidence is overwhelmingly clear that this application should be unequivocally refused.  We urge Cumbria County Council to take eagerly with both hands this new opportunity, via the amended planning application, to turn down this dangerous coal mine plan, for Whitehaven, for Cumbria, and for the Planet.  

 

Refs:

Cumbrian Campaign Group Granted Permission for Judicial Review https://www.leighday.co.uk/News/Press-releases-2020/February-2020/Cumbrian-campaign-group-granted-permission-for-jud

The Case Against New Coal Mines – Green Alliance https://www.green-alliance.org.uk/the_case_against_new_coal_mines_press_release.php

Cumbrian Coal Mine Could be ‘the last one’ in the UK – Tradelink Publications Ltd  https://mqworld.com/2020/02/26/cumbria-coal-mine-last-one-uk/

A more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, methane emissions will leap as Earth warms – Science Daily https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140327111724.htm

Methane https://keepcumbriancoalinthehole.wordpress.com/2020/06/11/big-holes-in-mine-developers-plan/

UU Plans to Keep Drawing West Cumbria’s Water from Egremont Boreholes https://www.newsandstar.co.uk/news/17345135.united-utilities-plans-to-keep-drawing-west-cumbrias-water-from-egremont-boreholes/

Byerstead Fault – Marine Conservaton Zone https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/82717/mcz-i1-irish-seas-20121213.pdf

West Cumbria Aquifer https://www.bgs.ac.uk/research/groundwater/shaleGas/aquifersAndShales/maps/aquifers/CarboniferousLimestone.html

WCM have not demonstrated how much freshwater would be abstracted from the Byerstead Fault at peak production –  https://esi-consulting.co.uk/our-work/minerals-waste/hydrological-hydrogeological-support-proposed-metallurgical-coal-mine/?fbclid=IwAR2xvAcZjPly1AGS0nT8TLVHOuEAzKcciH_–G9NQv_m5kGFNznBdOOMc9s

Nightmare Coalmine Near Sellafield Approved. https://realmedia.press/sellafield-coal-mine/

Two Letters – Burning Questions

This letter was sent to the local and national press on 27th May – unpublished.  Can’t help thinking that the close proximity of this mine to Sellafield is a big taboo.

Dear Editor

The green light that Cumbria County Council unanimously gave for the first deep coal mine in 30 years has now turned back to amber. We now have a new opportunity to stop this outrageous plan in its tracks.  The developers West Cumbria Mining have submitted a revised planning application for their coking coal mine.  This revised plan seeks to answer the legal challenges which were to be brought by me in a Judicial Review, with the support of the group Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole and with the help of top lawyers, Leigh Day.

The developers are aiming it seems to sidestep our challenges regarding climate impacts and the ‘need’ for the “by-product” of “middlings coal”  This lower quality coal was to make up to15% of nearly 3 Million tonnes of coal to be mined from under the Irish Sea every year.  Now, say the developers, the plan is to ‘process’ the middlings coal and sell it on the already saturated world market as coking coal.

The bottom line is that there is no ‘need’ to open any new coal mines, anywhere.  We are living in strange times and it is really strange that the people who have been opposing this mine from the very beginning are nuclear safety campaigners.  The only thing worse than a new coal mine is a new undersea coal mine on the beautiful Heritage Coast at St Bees Head just five miles from the worlds riskiest nuclear waste site, Sellafield.

Please object to this new and cunning plan by West Cumbria Mining by writing to Cumbria County Council before June 15th. Planning Application Reference number 4/17/9007

Yours sincerely

Marianne Birkby

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

Photo sent in with letter of St Bees Head – site of undersea coal mine 
St Bees Lighthouse
Good that there is a letter in this weeks press from Extinction Rebellion (note: XR ‘have no position on nuclear’ )

In March last year, Cumbria County Council (CCC) drew condemnation for its extraordinary decision to grant planning permission for the UK’s first new coal mine in 30 years, despite scientists warning we have just a few short years to avert climate catastrophe.

The developer, faced with the threat of a judicial review, has been forced to alter its planning application, meaning it must once again seek CCC approval.

If enough of us object, it’s possible our elected councillors will listen, but we must act quickly – the deadline is Monday June 15.

Please write to CCC before Monday using Application Ref No: 4/17/9007; either go to http://planning.cumbria.gov.uk/ and click on ‘Comment on this application’ or email development.control@cumbria.gov.uk quoting the Application Ref No. and including your name and address. Please also consider writing to your own councillor, which you can find on the council’s website.

A letter template is available here: https://www.xrsl.earth/.

Extinction Rebellion (XR) South Lakes Coordinators

OBJECT!!! To the New Plan for the Coal Mine Before 15th June

Dear Friends,

Thanks to our continued challenges the Developers of the first deep coal mine in the UK in decades have put forward an amended planning application.  The difference with this plan is that the developers propose to make the lower quality middlings coal (previously called a “by product”) into coking coal.

Even if  you have written previously to oppose the plan PLEASE PLEASE write and object again BEFORE 15th June – and ALSO ask to speak at the planning meeting (July 8th).

We have prepared a list of potential issues that you can object to – (this is not an exhaustive list – there are plenty more arguments you can make against this diabolic plan)

So please do use this as inspiration for your own letters of objection.  Even it you can write just a line or two saying that you strongly oppose this plan. – it is all valid and it all helps!!

Send your letters of objection to

developmentcontrol@cumbria.gov.uk

If you have time to write to all the members of the committee then the details are here 

You can tweet Cumbria County Council here ..  @CumbriaCC 

Please include:  West Cumbria Mining – amendment to Application Reference No. 4/17/9007. 

 

OPPOSITION LETTER TO THE COAL MINE

                              

Application Reference No. 4/17/9007. 

Proposal: 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.

West Cumbria Mining have resubmitted this previously unanimously approved appliction with the change that high quality coking coal would now comprise up to 15% of middlings coal processed on site to render it into coking coal.   

OPPOSITION ON THE GROUNDS OF:

Cumbria County Council Minerals and Local Waste Policy DC13 15.16

This proposal will have unacceptable social and environmental impacts which cannot be mitigated against and would fly in the face of Cumbria County’s own Policy DC13   

a. Loss of Ancient Woodland and degradation of remaining woodland area by the proposed rail conveyor  to cut through two areas of woodland.West Cumbria Mining Rail Conveyor

b. Large Coal Yard Sidings and Trains Local residents are opposed to Pow Beck Valley hosting  a large coal yard with six daily coal trains “The facts are; a train over 400 metres long; weighing +1500 tonnes; emitting 25.3g CO2e per tonne km” “126 Coal wagons in their sidings are hardly inconspicuous in our green landscape. More WCM rhetoric at the expense of local residents”.  Local Resident.

c.  Methane Rich coal seams are now safely contained under the Irish Sea. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas.  The developers consultant AECOM has estimated that 74% of the on-site emissions would be the methane emitted from the exposed coal in the mine.  The developers say that “The installation of a methane capture and utilisation plant will potentially eliminate the majority of fugitive methane emissions.”

Methane would continue to be emitted from the broken up coal up till and including the point of use at a steel works.  Methane drainage would potentially only remove a small fraction of total methane.
d.  Zero Carbon Britain – The developers state If the emissions are less than 1% of the relevant carbon budget, the level of significance is considered to be minor adverse”.   In the context of this long lived coal mine this is nonsensical.  The coal mine is set to continue over 70 years.  By peak production the wildly optimistic 1% of UK carbon emissions from this coal mine would be 5%, 10%  – 20% or even more of an otherwise decarbonised Britain.  In June 2019 the UK became the first major economy to pass net zero emissions law.  The new target will require the UK to bring all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.

e. Carbon Neutral.  Cumbria County Council declared a climate emergency in September 2019 and says it is committed to becoming carbon neutral.  West Cumbria Mining have stated in their amended planning applicationand in response to theGreen Alliance Report, that the Coal Mine would NOT be carbon neutral (despite having previously led people including Cumbria County Council to believe that it would be).  In their amended planning statement West Cumbria Mining propose that they have ongoing monitoring requirements on the Development (from 2033 onwards) in order to stop operations past this date if the coal mine compromises the UK’s ability to meet its emissions targets.  This is disingenous.  Cumbria County Council should be brave enough to call a halt to this coal mine sooner rather than later.  

f.  Subsidence and Cement Paste.  The developers propose to fill the voids left by mining with a cement paste in an effort to avoid subsidence of the vulnerable Irish Sea bed and onshore area.  They say the cement backfill :  “will be primarily targeted to sensitive areas including all onshore panels and selected panels close to the Marine Conservation Zone.”  

The planned annual production after 5 years will reach a steady state and is estimated at 2,780,000 tonnes of metallurgical coal, and 

pastedGraphic.png

150,000 tonnes of reject. The reject will be blended with water and a binder (e.g. cement) and the resultant paste material will be pumped back underground and placed directly behind a working panel as it is mined. When used, the paste will fill an estimated 65 % of the void space behind a worked panel. The use of the paste backfill will significantly increase the stability of mined-out areas and subsidence over backfilled panels will be reduced by at least 65 %. This applies to both single panels and to groups of panels. For example, for a single panel with 65 % backfill the maximum vertical displacement will be reduced from 21 cm to 9 cm. There will be sufficient paste produced each year to fill two of the eight panels mined each year, i.e. 25 % of panels will be backfilled. Backfill will be primarily targeted to sensitive areas includ- ing all onshore panels and selected panels close to the MCZ.

(MCZ referee to Marine Conservation Zone – quote above from WCM Process Change_R10) 

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Marine Conservation Zone Areas – Map by North Western Inshore Fisheries and Conservation

 

Where is West Cumbria Mining's Plan
This is the area of West Cumbria Mining’s Plan

Cement Paste Backfill (of the “panels” – the voids left by the mining process)   is a relatively new and unstable process.  “many factors such as sulfate presence, geothermal factors, and rock pressure in a mine water context have significant effects on the properties of Cement Paste Backfill.”   The last thing needed near the Sellafield nuclear waste plant is a new coal mine with unstable ‘cement paste backfill.’

The Colourful Coast Partnership has noted that : “The impact of any level of subsidence upon the terrestrial or marine hertiage assets and designated sites and landscapes could be significant and permanent, therefore having a detrimental impact…the history of contamination of watercourses in the area raises concerns…”

The Irish Sea bed has been in reciept of Sellafield’s reprocessing wastes for many decades and any resuspension of those radioactive and chemical wastesis to be avoided.

Local planning authorities such as Cumbria County Council are required to have regard to the prevention of major accidents and limiting their consequences.They must also consider the long-term need for appropriate distances between hazardous establishments and population or environmentally sensitive areas. They must also consider whether additional measures for existing establishments are required so that risks to people in the area are not increased.   Sellafield is less than five miles from the area of mining proposed in the WCM development.  We have seen no detailed risk assessments for this.

g.  “Water is heavily used in coal processing”   Exactly how much Groundwater would the mine abstract daily from the Byerstead Fault at full peak production ?  West Cumbria Mining have not given any indication of fresh water abstraction. No research has been done on the hydrological and geological impact of this abstraction from the Byerstead Fault?   

“Water is heavily used in coal processing and would be obtained from the following sources:

    • Groundwater (Byerstead Fault)
    • Recycled from the CHPP
    • Mine water ingress
    • Moisture in the coal
    • Harvested rain-water “

(WCM presentation to CCC 19th March 2019)

h.  Blight from Construction and operation.  West Cumbria Mining’s own Environmental Assessement says “the construction and operational activities of the proposals ‘have the potential to generate a number of land contamination related adverse impacts on identified receptors.’ And that “the significance of residual effects related to potential geological and contamination related impacts associated with the Proposal during the construction and operation phases are likely to be minor or moderate adverse, and therefore not significant.”  The blight for  people living near the proposal would be Very Significant. The would experience the coal mine blight of toxic mine tailings, coal dust, chemical pollution,  rail wagons,  and associated noise.  The beginning of the first section of Wainwright’s Coast to Coast walk would be impacted by the noise and disturbance of the coal mine’s rail loading facility.  Should Cumbria County Council approve this plan they would be in contravention of Cumbria’s Statutory Development Plan (SDP)-Cumbria Minerals & Waste Local Plan; POLICY SP15 Environmental Assets. “Protect, maintaintain and enhance people’s overall quality of life and the natural, historic and other distinctive features that contribute to the environment of Cumbria and to the character of its landscapes and places

 

 NOTE:

Cumbria County Council Minerals and Local Waste Policy DC13 15.16

“Planning applications for coal extraction will only be granted where; 

  •  the proposal would not have any unacceptable social or environmental impacts; or, if not
  • it can be made so by planning conditions or obligations; or, if not
  • it provides national, local or community benefits which clearly outweigh the likely impacts to justify the grant of planning permission.
  • For underground coal mining, potential impacts to be considered and mitigated for will include the effects of subsidence including: the potential hazard of old mine workings; the treatment and pumping of underground water; monitoring and preventative measures for potential gas emissions; and the disposal of colliery spoil. Provision of sustainable transport will be encouraged, as will Coal Mine Methane capture and utilisation.”

 

“Vindication for campaigner fighting plan for deep coal mine in West Cumbria”

On Leigh Days Website

A campaigner, who issued a legal case against a proposed deep coal mine in West Cumbria on grounds that the climate change impact had not been properly taken into account, says she has been vindicated by the latest development in plans for the scheme.

20 May 2020

Earlier this year, campaigner Marianne Bennett, with support from the Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole (KCCH) group was granted permission for a judicial review of Cumbria County Council’s decision to allow the first deep coal mine in the UK for 30 years to be built by West Cumbria Mining (WCM) in Whitehaven.

However, since the ruling in February, WCM has submitted a revised planning application to only process premium metallurgical coal in a simplified, cheaper-to-construct mine proposed for the site of the former Marchon Chemical Works. The previous application would have resulted in 15 per cent of the mined produce being a type of non-metallurgical coal, known as “middlings” coal.

As a result, Cumbria County Council has now confirmed that it will no longer rely on the resolution decision being challenged in the judicial review proceedings.

However, Ms Bennett’s legal team at Leigh Day solicitors believes that WCM has submitted the revised planning application to defeat the legal challenge.

They have agreed with Cumbria County Council and WCM that the claim will be withdrawn. They will now seek costs on behalf of Ms Bennett from Cumbria County Council and WCM.

Ms Bennett said:

“We have in effect achieved what we first set out to do, which was to overturn the council’s unanimous decision to approve the coal mine.

“We will be seeking legal costs so that we can keep our fighting fund for another day. We will now be encouraging our supporters to lobby the council so they do not say yes to this revised planning application for the first deep coal mine in the UK in decades.”

Rowan Smith, of Leigh Day solicitors, said:

“We believe that this revised application by WCM is an attempt to defeat the legal challenge which would have been brought at the High Court in Manchester later this year.

“Our client will be studying the new plan carefully and considering further action because she firmly believes that the changes proposed do not resolve the climate change issue with the project and this was the principal reason she took her brave legal action at the start of this process.”

Ms Bennett is also represented by David Wolfe QC (Matrix) and Merrow Golden (Francis Taylor Buildings).

Information was correct at time of publishing. See terms and conditions for further details.

“Get a Conscience” – Jobs, 5G and Mining

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Mining Technology.Com

Following the planning meeting in Kendal, the CEO of West Cumbria Mining told me to “Get a Conscience”.  Presumably he meant that I and others fighting the coal mine were jeopardising ‘promised’ jobs by opposing the development.

I wonder if the same vehemence of “Get a Conscience” is being directed by the CEO of West Cumbria Mining to the increasing automation of mines – the “smart mines” of the future promised by 5G.

” Henan Energy and Chemical Industry Group signed an agreement with China Mobile’s Henan branch to build the first 5G-based unmanned mining project in the province. Shandong-based mining conglomerate Yankuang Group has set up a joint lab with China Unicom and ZTE to develop 5G and intelligent mining in areas including 5G-based smart mining, intelligent transportation and drone patrol.”

I wonder if the luddites were right – it certainly looks like the fourth industrial revolution ……promised by the World Economic Forum and others promoting the necessary Blockchain technology to facilitate it …..will be the most destructive.

I doubt the 500 jobs promised would ever materialise but we can be sure the pollution and destruction would be more than evident should the first deep coal mine in the UK in decades go ahead.

 

 

“Last Coal Mine” ? But it would last 50 years!

A colleague has just alerted us to this interview with CEO of West Cumbria Mining.

Full interview on New Civil Engineer 

Cumbria coal mine could be ‘the last one’ in the UK

The proposed £165M Woodhouse colliery in Cumbria could be “the last [coal mine] ever [built] in the UK”, according to West Cumbria Mining chief executive Mark Kirkbride.

Plans for the coal mine have been called into question amid fears that the facility could hinder the UK’s goal to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

And Kirkbride believes that the changes to planning regulations means that the Cumbrian facility could be the last coal mine ever constructed in the UK.

“If you asked me to get planning for another one, I would say it would be impossible right now unless something significantly changed,” Kirkbride said at a British Tunnelling Society lecture.

“When we applied for planning it was a different set of planning rules. Now if you were to submit planning you’d have to try and do whole life greenhouse gas assessments.”

However, Kirkbride believes it is unfair for the mine to be accountable for carbon emissions from coal once it leaves the mine.

He added: “The analogy I use is if you build a car factory you look at what the greenhouse impact is of the factory, what you don’t have to do is the life cycle emissions from the cars that you make. That doesn’t apply to the natural resources.

“People think we can determine how much CO2 for the life of the coal we’re producing. The challenge is that populist noise would make it impossible to get it past a planning committee.”

Kirkbride’s comments come amid a government push towards renewables.

This month Boris Johnson announced that the deadline for the phase out of coal from Britain’s energy system would be brought forward a year to 1 October 2024. The last five coal-fired power stations stations – Ratcliffe on Soar, West Burton, Fiddlers Ferry, Kilroot and Drax – are all expected to close.

Meanwhile, domestic coal and certain types of wood are also to be banned from sale from next year in a bid to cut air pollution.

However, the Woodhouse colliery would be excavating coal for use mainly in steel production – a key distinction, according to Kirkbride, who “fully supports” the phase out of coal for electricity.

The proposed development is for a large underground metallurgical, or ‘coking coal’, coal mine.

Coking coal is used exclusively in the manufacture of over 70% of the world’s steel, with more than 1.2bn.t used in global steel production around the world every year.

The coal is ‘baked’ in a coke oven which forces out impurities to produce coke. Modern steel plants include gas treatment and capture to reduce emissions. The steel produced is used in the likes of cars, kettles and trains, as well as in the manufacture of wind turbines and nuclear power stations.

Around 250t of coking coal is required to build an offshore wind turbine, which uses around 325t of steel.

West Cumbria Mining’s website describes these as “key alternatives to historical coal-powered energy generation”.

It adds that coking coal is “very different to thermal coal which is used to create steam to power turbines for creating electricity”.

However a report, published in January by independent thinktank Green Alliance, claims the coal mine is “incompatible” with the UK’s net zero goals.

It concludes that when burnt, the coal extracted from the mine would produce more than 8M.t of carbon dioxide per year – and identifies ways that the amount of coal used in steel production could actually be reduced.

These include using less steel, using recycled steel, improving the efficiency of steel production with conventional blast furnaces, and producing steel with new processes using renewable energy.

The report says opening a new coal mine will hinder this strategy by ensuring the continued availability of cheap coal.

As such, it contests Cumbria County Council’s claim that the mine will be carbon neutral.

Earlier this month environmental campaigners appealed for a judicial review against Cumbria County Council for giving the go ahead to the mine.

Campaign group Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole – run by the group Radiation Free Lakeland – filed the paperwork to launch the judicial review through the solicitors Leigh Day. They are now awaiting the court’s approval for a full hearing.

The mine was granted cross-party backing in March 2019.

 

 

Todays BBC Podcast about the “Carbon Neutral” Coal Mine

This BBC podcast today makes some good points but leaves much out. It is a far cry from 2018 when  we made a complaint to the BBC about their promotion of the mine as a ‘good thing’ on the 27th Dec 2018 Radio 4 PM program….Following that program in 2018 green minded folk told us they felt “reassured” that the mine was environmentally sound.     The program today was much more critical of the plan. However, no mention of the legal challenge or the close proximity to Sellafield.

Untitled
Listen here from 16.00

 

 

 

Spring Watch at St Bees & July Date for Coal Mine Challenge

 

 

Dear Friends,

As you know we had planned a Spring Watch Wildlife Walk and Draw along the cliff top walk from Whitehaven to St Bees.  As we cannot do that here is a virtual walk with sketches of some of the birds that it is possible to see. Some are very vulnerable indeed such as the Black Guillemot,  just one of the reasons why we want to stop this coal mine.

The date of the week beginning the 20th July has now been set for the Legal Challenge which you have so generously donated funds towards.  A Press Release has been sent out to media and can be read below.  With many thanks for your continued support in the battle to stop this coal mine.  We will let you know more details about the 20th July date as soon as we know more.

With All Very Best Wishes

Marianne

on behalf of Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole.

****************************************************

PRESS NOTICE.                                                                     8th April 2020

POSSIBLE JULY DATE FOR CUMBRIAN COAL MINE LEGAL CHALLENGE

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole are challenging the decision by Cumbria County Council to allow the first phase of a major new coking coal mine deep under the Irish Sea.  The date for the Judicial Review is planned for the week commencing the 20th July (dependent on the situation with Covid19 restrictions) and will be heard at the High Court in Manchester.

The case is being brought on behalf of KCCH by Mrs Marianne Bennett (which is the legal name of the Cumbrian based artist Marianne Birkby). KCCH was founded by the campaign group Radiation Free Lakeland which was set up in 2008 to fight the plan for the geological disposal of nuclear wastes under Cumbria.  A crowdfunder set up by Mrs Bennett following Cumbria County Council’s decision in March 2019 to grant the coal mine planning permission has generated £10,435 to cover court costs and legal expenses.  KCCH have engaged the services of top environmental lawyers at Leigh Day, Matrix Chambers and Francis Taylor Buildings.

On 20 June 2019, Leigh Day wrote to Cumbria County Council addressing a number of legal issues. Despite being alerted to those concerns, Cumbria County Council ratified its decision on 31 October 2019.

JUDICIAL REVIEW

Consequently, KCCH launched its Judicial Review on 12 December 2019, arguing that Cumbria County Council had failed to properly assess the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of the mining operations, by wrongly claiming that the development would be “carbon neutral” without any evidence whatsoever to support such a claim. KCCH also submitted that Cumbria County Council had a legal requirement to consider whether the extraction and use of the coal would be in line with the Government’s target of Net Zero CO2 emissions by 2050, given the Whitehaven development will last for at least the next 50 years.

The developers West Cumbria Mining as ‘interested party,’ have throughout, strongly resisted the legal challenge. Arguing that KKCH’s case against Cumbria County Council is “without merit” in respect of both carbon emissions and the need for coking coal.  WCM also argued that the KCCH should be exposed to much higher costs, which could have jeopardised the Judicial Review going ahead. However, Mrs Justice Beverley Lang agreed in February 2019 that the legal issues are arguable, that they justify a public hearing and that KCCH could have a cap of £5,000 on court costs under Aarhus rules.

WEST CUMBRIAN MINING ‘U-TURN’ ON MIDDLINGS COAL ?

Since then, and in an apparent U-turn, WCM has sent a letter to Cumbria County Council (disclosed as part of the legal case) that says all of the extracted Coal can now go into the Steel Industry. In light of that change, WCM indicates in the letter that it will submit a revised planning application to Cumbria County Council. However, much is unknown as to whether the total amount of Coal will remain the same or whether there is still going to be a by-product of Middlings Coal, and if so how the environmental impact of disposing of that waste product will be assessed by Cumbria County Council before any revised planning application is approved.

CLIMATE IMPACTS

Neither WCM nor Cumbria County Council have yet addressed criticisms of the climate change impact of the Coal Mine raised in a report published by the Green Alliance. We understand from the same letter that WCM intends to do so as part of any revised planning application.

Meanwhile, KCCH intends to proceed with the legal challenge, because there are still questions concerning GHG emissions and the Net Zero target which campaigners believe are unaffected by these revisions.

Marianne Birkby from KKCH, said:

“We are pleased that a date has now been set for the legal challenge which has had to overcome so many hurdles already to get us to this point. We feel that this coal mine has gone way under the radar for so long – the climate impacts alone should have stopped this plan in its tracks from the outset  but there is also the issue, much on our minds,  that this coal mine would extend to within 5 miles of the Sellafield site.  Cumbria would be the only place in the UK with deep mining infrastructure in place.    We are delighted that full legal scrutiny of the climate change impacts will be addressed despite the manoeuvrings of West Cumbria Mining to try and circumvent any such legal challenge.  We will continue to work tirelessly along with others to stop this, outrageously dangerous coal mine plan under the Irish Sea.”

ENDS

Notes:

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole – blog

https://keepcumbriancoalinthehole.wordpress.com

CrowdJustice page

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/cumbriancoal2/

Radiation Free Lakeland – website

https://wildar4.wixsite.com/radiation-free-land

West Cumbria Mining – website

https://www.westcumbriamining.com

Leigh Day

https://www.leighday.co.uk

Aarhus Convention

https://ec.europa.eu/environment/aarhus/legislation.htm

The Case Against New Coal Mines in the UK – report by Green Alliance

https://www.green-alliance.org.uk/resources/The_case_against_new_coal_mines_in_the_UK.pdf

‘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.