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)

PRESS NOTICE

CUMBRIA COUNTY COUNCIL ‘PUT ON NOTICE’ OVER THEIR APPROVAL OF THE FIRST DEEP COAL MINE IN THE UK IN 30 YEARS

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.

ENDS

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

Introduction

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).

Exports

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.

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.

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?

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

MANY Thanks

Marianne Birkby

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CALL IN THE CRAZY CUMBRIAN COAL MINE DECISION! DEMO and PETITION HAND OVER – 10th APRIL in LONDON

Dear Friends,

*Thank you*  to everyone who wrote to Cumbria County Council about their shocking decision to approve deep mining under the Irish Sea.

The next step is to ask the Secretary of State to call in the decision. 

Tim Farron MP has done thisand I have also written on behalf of Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole to the Secretary of State to ask that the decision by Cumbria County Council approving the Coal Mine is Called In.

The more people and groupsthat write and request that the Secretary of State calls in the decision made by Cumbria County Council on 19th March, the better.

In fact, a show of force may demonstrate the strength of feeling against the mine.  The letter should be addressed to James Brokenshire MP, the Secretary of State. james.brokenshire@communities.gsi.gov.uk.

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 is below – but you don’t need to write that much – the main point to make is that West Cumbria Mining has not given figures on CO2 Emissions with no independent assessments and there has been no detailed scrutiny or debate on the close proximity of deep mining to Sellafield’s high level radioactive wastes

ALSO

The petition has been updated to request that James Brockenshire MP, Secretary of State Calls In the Decision.

DEMO AND PETITION HAND OVER ON WEDNESDAY 10th APRIL 2-4 pm

OUTSIDE the MINISTRY OF HOUSING, COMMUNITIES & LOCAL GOVERNMENT

2 Marsham Street
London
SW1P 4DF
United Kingdom

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

 

LETTER TO THE SECRETARY OF STATE From KEEP CUMBRIAN COAL IN THE HOLE

james.brokenshire@communities.gsi.gov.uk

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 CO2emitted). 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

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

 

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

54434448_2082177532042857_6882504501350105088_n

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!)

LETTER TO THE SECRETARY OF STATE

james.brokenshire@communities.gsi.gov.uk

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

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

 

The Crown and the Irish Sea

Prince Charles has spoken passionately many times about the fragility of the world’s oceans and the need to protect them against dangerous and polluting developments.

We were shocked to find that the Crown has signed an agreement with West Cumbria Mining in order to exploit the rich coal seams lying in faulted  and complex geology beneath the Irish Sea bed.

Whats that you say :  Clutching at straws to Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole?   You bet!

But this is some right Royal straw and it is a very serious matter that should concern Prince Charles and the dignity of the Crown at least as much as the diabolic plan to open the first deep coal mine in the UK in 30 years concerns us.

Below is a letter to the Crown’s representative in Cumbria.

To The Lieutenancy Office:

Suzannah Walker, Assistant Clerk to the Lieutenancy, Cumbria House, 107-117 Botchergate, Carlisle, Cumbria CA1 1RD

I am writing on behalf of Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole and would be very grateful if the following could be sent to the appropriate person for the attention of the Lord-Lieutenant for Cumbria, Mrs Claire Hensman for advice on how to raise concerns about this issue.

Our concern:

The association of the monarch with the exploitation (by means of possible/probable dubious foreign capital from China) of fossil fuels under the Irish Sea bed. The fossil fuel safely in the ground under the Irish Sea which the monarch inherited as sovereign must, by law, custom and practice be passed on to her eventual successor who is presumed to be HRH the Prince of Wales.

Our members and sympathetic associates understand that HM holds the sub-sea mineral rights as far as the limit of UK territorial waters and that HM, personally, made an exploration agreement with the developers, West Cumbria Mining dated 21st July 2017. The results of the subsequent exploration have not yet been shared (as far as we know) with the elected representatives of HM’s subjects who are resident in Cumbria and who are now being invited by their staff to give planning permission on 22nd February in Kendal.

The dignity of the Crown in Cumbria is we believe under threat as a result of this arrangement between HM , the developers WCM and their funders EMR Capita.

We would be very grateful if we could be informed of the correct way to raise these concerns.

Yours sincerely,

Marianne Birkby

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

(address supplied)

Link to the Agreement between  HM and WCM can be found here: https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/07143398/charges/lXWNTRigei_OaJQXhs2MwyKZ7ms

EMR Capital – Chinese Money d http://emrcapital.com/our-team/our-team/

the crown - wcm

Old King ‘Coal’ and BBC’s Jackanory

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The BBC have sent a letter back in response to our complaint about the West Cumbria Mine coverage on 27th Dec Radio 4’s PM.

Dear Ms Birkby

Thanks for contacting us about the PM item on Woodhouse Colliery from December 27.

We raised your concerns with the programme team. They explained that the piece looked mainly at the socio-economic impact of the mining community, as it could be the first new coal mine in the UK for 30 years.

However, it also tackled some well-known environmental concerns about the coal industry. We challenged Caroline Leatherdale, the firm’s Environmental Advisor: “We are talking about burning large amounts of fossil fuels and there will be those that will be against this. We all know what the issues are with reaching CO2 targets.”

She offered the position that the mine wasn’t producing “thermal coal” as its product. Instead, the coking coal’s limited use in steel production would in turn benefit the environment through wind turbine production, public transport infrastructure. Again, she was challenged – “It’s still CO2 emissions, isn’t it?”. Listeners then heard further details of the firm’s attempts to offset its carbon output. As such, we feel the item considered criticisms of the colliery and the environmental factors at play.

We’ve also included other reports about environmental matters on PM, but realise you felt this angle should have been reflected in more depth here. That’s not compulsory on each and every report, but we welcome feedback when it’s felt something has been overlooked.

Your reaction was shared with the Editor and senior News staff at BBC Radio 4.

Kind Regards

BBC Complaints Team
www.bbc.co.uk/complaints

Sheesh! What a load of old BBC Jackanory.

The mine would emit 175 Million tonnes of CO2 over its lifetime

Every tonne of steel proposed to be made with this coking coal would create almost two tonnes of carbon dioxide.

The mine would also produce mega amounts of ‘thermal’ coal – this was not questioned at all by the BBC, neither was the fact that most of the coal would be for export.

The BBC interviewer swallowed the children’s story that the steel would be for all things nice and green like wind turbines – not nasty Trident submarines or nuclear installations which need mega amounts of steel.

No mention of the high level omission that this mine would be 8km from Sellafield

No apology for the deliberate bias in not interviewing those opposed to the mine – there are plenty of miners local to the area who are against it as this video shows

What pathetic journalism from the BBC!  Or maybe it is targeted deliberately biased journalism to promote this mine as a ‘good thing’  (you may well ask, why?)  Green minded folk who heard this programme have told me they felt reassured ….until the big fat lies were pointed out to them.  The BBC’s percieved gravitas has taken us to war before now.  Whats a coal mine between friends?

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West Cumbrian Papers …at last some Grrr over the Coal Mine Plan

Thanks to the West Cumbrian press who have at last published a bit of Grrrr over the proposed coal mine.   Readers of the West Cumbrian press have so far been treated to first rate (and no doubt expensive) greenwash from the developers, so it is timely that at last (better late than never) the message is getting out that actually the plan to mine coal again in West Cumbria is a really REALLY bad idea.

Here is the article as appeared in much of the West Cumbrian press, this from the Times and Star-   – you can go to the Times and Star to see more (and add your own) on the comments section.  The article is in this weeks  Whitehaven News

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole, Extinction Rebellion and the Green Party protest over West Cumbria Mining plans

By Sarah Moore Chief Reporter
Campaigners stage a protest in Workington town centre on Saturday against plans to resurrect coal mining in West Cumbria

Campaigners stage a protest in Workington town centre on Saturday against plans to resurrect coal mining in West Cumbria

Members of Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole, Extinction Rebellion and the Green Party protested against West Cumbria Mining’s plans to redevelop Whitehaven’s former Marchon site and extract coking coal off the coast of St Bees, speaking to shoppers in Workington.

Protestor Marianne Birkby said: “We spoke to ordinary folk including miners who were adamant that there should not be a return to coal mining on the west coast of Cumbria.

“The reasons are many – the water situation in West Cumbria is already stressed, the mine would impact hydrology, would produce 175 million tonnes of CO2, the possibility of seabed collapse and earth movement is unthinkable so near to Sellafield.

“Only one person thought the jobs were worth the damage (just 500 jobs proposed for the mine – similar to a supermarket depot and nowhere near the jobs in renewables and energy efficiency technologies).”

West Cumbria Mining is seeking permission from Cumbria County Council to open Woodhouse Colliery, which it says would have a planned operational lifespan of 50 years and extract up to 3.1 million tonnes of coal per year.

It would extract coking coal off the coast of St Bees, with a processing plant on the former Marchon site at Kells, before exporting to Redcar, on the east coast, and shipping it to the EU and beyond. The firm has said the scheme would create 500-plus jobs.

After a drop-in event last month, bosses said the scheme had had massive support, with 99 per cent positive feedback.

Helen Davies, head of communications for the firm, said: “West Cumbria Mining continues to progress the development of the Woodhouse Colliery project in an open and collaborative spirit. The company has held numerous engagement public events since 2014, where there has been consistently strong support for the scheme including from local members of parliament and cabinet ministers, together with hundreds of expressions of support submitted to Cumbria County Council in favour of the current planning application process for the project to move forwards.

“The WCM planning documentation sets out and responds to all of the questions raised by external parties over the last three years and provides clear scientific evidence based responses to each of those points, clearly demonstrating that there are no risks or significant impacts from the scheme”

Cumbria County Council is consulting on the plans until January 28. Its development control committee is due to discuss the plans next month.

lakelandlad 7th January 6:45 pm

2 There is a high demand for this grade of COAL also a high demand for jobs as there has been a vast number of jobs lost . WHY do people (small number) fight against new employment are they incomers wanting a rural (peaceful) life. WEST CUMBERLAND use to be a highly industrial area not now.

Last Updated: 8th January 10:28 am

Neil Messenger 7th January 9:03 pm

1 Where do these people come from? 99% of people want West Cumbria Mining to succeed with their application.
Much need jobs and skills will be brought to the area.
Where did they get their “facts” about the amount of Co2 and earth movement?
Come on Cumbria County Council, do the right thing.

Last Updated: 8th January 10:28 am

James O’Fee 8th January 8:42 am

0 At first I disagreed with them but they are right in the fact that their is at least 5 old mines in the area, most prior to haig had poor mapping of seams dug which Haig unknowingly broke into over the years not knowing they were their which is still the case (unmapped seams). Flooding will be the downfall of this, haig was pumping 20,000 ltrs per hour out of Haig the pumps were so large they had to leave them down their when it closed and this was part of the reason it was uneconomical,if they break through the sponge rock (above the coal seam),it will flood constantly, regarding collapse and affecting sellafield unless they are digging under it it should have no impact whatsoever. The coal is high grade though without a doubt and burns cleaner than the coal Europe digs, its an interesting project but their forecasts are way over estimated they haven’t factored flooding costs and unforeseen circumstances such as old mine works which would be flooded already if they break into these god help them.

Last Updated: 8th January 8:44 am

Howgill 8th January 10:26 am

0 I don’t know where you acquired your “facts” regarding Haig – perhaps from those protesters? – but they are way off. Haig pumped about eightfold the figure you gave, but well over 90% of that was drainage from the landward side, fluctuating within days of rainfall – it was classed as a very dry pit, hence the tons of stone dust used on a daily basis to neutralise the coal dust.

While some of the plans of adjacent pits are not totally reliable there was, to my knowledge, only one case of Haig accidentally holing into old workings, and they were bone dry.

“……and this was part of the reason it was uneconomical” – well yes. the pumping wasn’t cost free so there’s a part truth there, but the real cause was the faulting – coal sells, stone doesn’t!

James O’Fee 8th January 6:40 pm

0 I got it from relatives who worked in haig who happened to be pit deputies,what I stated was correct and they had lots of openings into unknow shafts and seams a lot of this was unrecorded as it would shut production down they would simply brick it up and move elsewhere.why on earth would they pump from the landside it could run off the cliffs into the sea if that was the case,their are many photos of Haig I have yet to see any of surface pumps around the pit surface or pipework and hoses.

Last Updated: 8th January 6:47 pm

Howgill 8th January 8:25 pm

0 I think your relatives were pulling your leg! The plans of the Whitehaven Colliery are quite complete, even from the days before they were a legal requirement, and certainly so for the workings adjacent to Haig (Croft, Wellington, Saltom). There may be some errors due to the surveying methods used (magnetic dials were the norm in the early days) but nothing was unrecorded. “Bricking up and moving elsewhere” wasn’t necessary as these holings, with one exception, just didn’t happen.

The pumping of landward drainage. Water enters the old workings by percolation where the seams are close to the surface right along the hill from Greenbank to the harbour. This flows down and is collected by a watercourse running from Ladysmith via Croft, Kells, Saltom and King to Wellington. Water from William Pit (Bransty, Harras Moor ingress) arrived in a similar way and all was pumped from the lodge 1,000 feet down the Haig shafts which was connected into it (purposely) in 1919. How do I know this? I worked in Haig, and Wellington, and as part of my work had regular access to all the plans which you say don’t exist.

WCM will not be entering any areas of unrecorded old workings and will be leaving substantial barriers against the known workings just as we did at Haig.

Last Updated: 8th January 8:27 pm

McAll W 8th January 2:15 pm

0 Oh look, the daytrippers have made it all the way to Workington this time (having held their last protest in Windermere because that’s probably as far into Cumbria as most of them can be bothered travelling).

Dagsannr 8 hrs ago

0 Digging up coal, regardless of the safety or environmental concerns of the mine itself, is a ridiculous idea. It’s polluting, unnecessary and the world is moving on.

Want jobs? Get the government to subsidise renewables to the same extent that it subsidises oil and gas and you’ll soon see job creation.