Methane Shock

image.png

Dear Friends,

Big Thank You to All – We are keeping the CrowdJustice page open a while longer to keep folk updated and to keep on raising awareness about the insanity of this coal mine.Cumbria would be the ONLY place in the UK to have ANY deep mining going on. West Cumbria Mining plan to mine for coking and industrial coal in the “gassiest pit in the kingdom”. West Cumbria is the place where the Davey Lamp was tested out because methane is so prevalent under the Irish Sea bed.

A recent article in The Ecologist explains why methane – always known to be a dangerous gas is more dangerous than we thought. Stopping the Coal Mine in Cumbria just got a whole lot more urgent.

Extract

“Scientists have been vastly underestimating the amount of methane humans are emitting into the atmosphere through fossil fuels, according to research.

Analysis published in the journal Nature shows methane emissions from fossil fuels owing to human activity is around 25 percent to 40 percent higher than thought.

But researchers believe their findings offer hope, saying stricter regulations to curb methane emissions could help reduce future global warming to “a larger extent than previously thought”.

Ice core

Benjamin Hmiel, a professor of earth and environmental science at the University of Rochester and one of the study authors, said: “I don’t want to get too hopeless on this because my data does have a positive implication: most of the methane emissions are anthropogenic, so we have more control.

“If we can reduce our emissions, it’s going to have more of an impact.”

Read the Full Article HERE

Cumbrian Coal Deposits are Methane Rich – Leave them in the Ground!

Old King Coal
Old King Coal (from Comic Vine)

KEEP OLD KING COAL IN THE HOLE!

The Cumbrian Coal deposits under the Irish Sea off St Bees are methane rich.  West Cumbria Mining’s proposed development has already released an unknown quantity of methane from beneath the Irish Sea bed when it hit a methane gas pocket whilst carrying out exploration back in 2017:  ” drilling operations from a jack-up barge had struck a gas pocket approximately one nautical mile from St Bee’s Head. The drilling is part of a programme of exploration work to support a new coal mining project in west Cumbria…Local authorities, fire rescue, police and the Environment Agency were all informed.”

Now in 2019 West Cumbria Mining have been given the green light by Cumbria County Council to continue their release of methane which is currently safely contained deep beneath the Irish Sea bed.

It was due to this area’s methane rich status that the famous safety Davy Lamp was tested out right here in West Cumbria!

Today’s Guardian reports that : “Methane emissions from coalmines could stoke climate crisis…Millions of tonnes belched into atmosphere as bad as shipping and aviation emissions combined, researchers find”

“Dave Jones, an analyst at the climate thinktank Sandbag, said the report proves the global coal industry “is even more polluting than we thought” and should face tougher regulation.”

“It found that deeper coal seams tend to contain more methane than shallower seams, while older seams have higher methane content than younger seams. The findings were applied across all countries with coalmines to estimate the global scourge of coalmine methane.”

READ THE FULL GUARDIAN REPORT HERE

Interesting bit about the Davy lamp here

“In 1816, the Cumberland Pacquet reported a demonstration of the Davy lamp at William Pit, Whitehaven. Placed in a blower “… the effect was grand beyond description. At first a blue flame was seen to cap the flame of the lamp, – then succeeded a lambent flame, playing in the cylinder; and shortly after, the flame of the firedamp expanded, so as to completely fill the wire gauze. For some time, the flame of the lamp was seen through that of the firedamp, which became ultimately extinguished without explosion. Results more satisfactory were not to be wished…”[11] Another correspondent to the paper commented “The Lamp offers absolute security to the miner… With the excellent ventilation of the Whitehaven Collieries and the application of Sir HUMPHRY’s valuable instrument, the accidents from the explosion of’ (carburetted) ‘hydrogene which have occurred (although comparatively few for such extensive works) will by this happy invention be avoided”.[11]

Unfortunately, this prediction was not fulfilled: in the next thirty years, firedamp explosions in Whitehaven pits cost 137 lives.[12]:139 More generally, the Select Committee on Accidents in Mines reported in 1835 that the introduction of the Davy lamp had led to an increase in mine accidents;[9]:130 the lamp encouraged the working of mines and parts of mines that had previously been closed for safety reasons.[13]”

 

PLEASE Support our legal fight against a new coal mine in Cumbria

Support our Legal Fight Against a New Coal Mine in Cumbria

SUPPORT OUR LEGAL FIGHT AGAINST A NEW COAL MINE IN CUMBRIA

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole.jpg

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole – demonstration back in 2017

IMG_4922.jpg

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

NEW – LEGAL CHALLENGE – We need your help. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With Many Thanks!!!

Marianne

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

Tim Farron MP presents Cumbria Coal Mine Petition in the House of Commons

Keep-400x301-1

Many thanks to our MP Tim Farron for presenting our petition yesterday in the House of Commons to the Secretary of State. Since presenting the petition the signatures have gone up..and continue to go up calling on the Secretary of State to call in the dodgy decision made by Cumbria County Council.

Tomorrow – Don’t Forget the Demo outside County Offices Kendal from 8.30am to 10am to Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole 

Photo of Tim FarronTim FarronLiberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Communities and Local Government), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Work and Pensions), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Housing, Communities and Local Government), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (North of England) (Northern Powerhouse) 8:38 pm, 29th October 2019

I present a petition on behalf of 1,852 residents of Cumbria who oppose the proposed West Cumbrian coal mine, believing, as I do, that in the fight to prevent climate catastrophe, it is vital that we keep fossil fuels in the ground. The petitioners request that the Secretary of State call in the application for his own determination at the earliest opportunity and that he rule against the opening of the mine.

Following is the full text of the petition:

[The petition of people of the United Kingdom,

Declares that a local petition has been collected against the proposed west Cumbria coal mine which should not be opened on account of the impact on the climate.

The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to call this application in for its own determination at the earliest opportunity and that it rules against the opening of the mine.

And the petitioners remain, etc.]

 

 

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

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

Today the New York Times reports….

Credit…Joshua Roberts/Reuters

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

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

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

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

ADVERTISEMENT

Continue reading the main story

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

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

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

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

ADVERTISEMENT

Continue reading the main story

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

 

Continue reading the main story

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

Bloody Magical Coal Mine I am!  .jpg

 

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

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

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

01539 713 548

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole –

Presentation to Development Control and Regulation Committee 31st oct

Application ref no 4/17/9007

Intro: 

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

Carbon Neutral?

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

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

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

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

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

Demand for Coking Coal for Steel

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

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

Middlings Coal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Net Zero

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

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

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

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

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

Carbon Savings?

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

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

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

sent to press

COUNCIL PLAN TO RATIFY OUTRAGEOUS ‘YES’ TO COAL MINE 

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

COKING COAL AND JOBS.

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

Foul Chimney and Sellafield Office

OUTRAGE

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

54434448_2082177532042857_6882504501350105088_n

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

LAWYERS LEIGH DAY

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

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

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

Demo in Whitehaven following the Council's Decision

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

The letter from Leigh Day states in conclusion: 

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

No Coal - cumbria

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

WHAT HAS CHANGED SINCE THE COUNCIL’S DECISION?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Uniper/Fortum briefing paper

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