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

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

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

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

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

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

*******Campaigners are urging others to contact Cumbria County Council with their opposition to ratification of the coal mine plan.  People can email the Development Control Committee developmentcontrol@cumbria.gov.uk asking that this outrageous coal mine plan is not ratified.  You can ask to speak at the meeting in Kendal on the 31st October (see above)  demanding that the original vote by Cumbria County Council is not ratified.  

Quote:   Ref No. 4/17/9007  West Cumbria Mining
The meeting will be in Kendal County Offices  on 31st Oct. at 10am  We hope  that as many people as can get to Kendal  County Offices on 31st October will come along and demand that the Council do not ratify the decision to open the first deep coal mine in the UK in decades.********

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ref No. 4/17/9007 Development Control and Regulation Committee –

“Mayor Hits Back at Mine Protestors”

Whitehaven NEWS

Mayor hits back at mine protesters

How the mine will look

How the mine will look

THE elected Mayor of Copeland has insisted the council is “fully signed up to the climate change agenda” despite opposition to his pro-mine stance.

Mike Starkie made the comments after campaigners opposed to a £165m mine planned for West Cumbria descended on Whitehaven over the weekend.

The plans have been ‘called in’ by Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron amid environmental concerns, but Mr Starkie is among those calling for the challenge to be thrown out by the Government.

Protestors from Extinction Rebellion marched from Haig Pit museum to Copeland council’s Market Hall to express their concerns, though the plans were agreed at county level.

West Cumbria Mining wants to extract coking coal off the coast of St Bees, with a processing plant on the former Marchon site at Kells were given the go-ahead in March.

Speaking at a meeting of the executive, major Mike Starkie insisted that the council was working hard – alongside other local authorities in the county – to make Cumbria carbon neutral.

But he also took aim at some of the protestors who he said were “not local” and had “probably travelled here in their diesel cars, putting all the carbon emissions into the air en route.”

Mr Starkie said the only disturbance caused by the campaigners was to members of the Whitehaven public who were “absolutely disinterested” with anything they had to say.

The mayor reiterated his “100 per cent unequivocal support for the mine” in the face of opposition.

He also described the planning process as “rigorous” and stressed that “everything was considered” in the run-up the county council planning panel’s decision.

He added: “And I am going to once again call on the Government to throw out the call in as soon as possible.

“At the end of the day there is a climate change agenda that we’re 100 per cent bought into and we are absolutely understand, but there is an economic agenda as well – and we need a balance.

“We need renewable energy and the last time I checked you still need steel for the windmills and that’s what the coking coal is being mined to produce.”

Mr Farron and Workington MP Sue Hayman, who is the Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, are the only two of the county’s six MPS who have not written to the Government to get this ‘call in’ thrown out.

Copeland’s green credentials.

Copeland has hosted the first commercially operative nuclear power station (Sellafield) that powered the nation through low-carbon energy supply for almost 50 years;

In 2018/19, the council invested £1 million into our doorstop recycling service and collected 3,354 tonnes of recycling – doubling the previous years’ collection;

The council is signatories of the Cumbria Joint Public Health Strategy Commitment which commits local authorities in Cumbria to become a net-zero carbon county.

The authority has pledged to reduce its climate footprint by 1.6 per cent every year – in line with statutory commitments in the Climate Change Act of 2008.”

Read In the Whitehaven News here

The Momentum Grows to Stop the Coal Mine!



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

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

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

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

Here are some photos of the protest

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ITVs Border’s Lunchtime Coverage below.

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

Bad News and Good News

Dear Friends,

There is bad news and good news.  Bad news is that apparently the Development Control & Regulation decision cannot be ‘called in’ internally by Cumbria County Council

Good news is that all your fantastic emails and messages to councillors and others has resulted in Tim Farron MP requesting that the Secretary of State calls in this diabolic decision to give a green light to the first deep coal mine in the UK in decades.

We shall give an update on how we can best support this request for a call in by Tim Farron MP to the Secretary of State as soon as possible.

In the meantime – for those folk who were not able to get to the meeting, here are a few videos taken on the day (sorry I didn’t get all the speakers including myself!)   Grab a cuppa and watch the terrible drama unfold – and make no mistake this will make your toes curl.  It is significant that the proximity to Sellafield was not even brought up as an issue by the Council officers.  Sickeningly the members of the committee laughed their socks off when I pointed out that a liquefaction event had taken place in Barrow in the 1800’s – the ground at Sellafield is at high risk of liquefaction in the event of seismic activity.  The last thing we need is earthquake inducing deep mining and massive fresh water extraction to wash the coal (to be extracted from a fault near Whitehaven – they kept that freshwater extraction quiet!).


Part 1. Council Officials addressing the  Development Control and Regulation Committee of Cumbria County Council. The full council did not have a chance to debate this.  We heard Lib Dem Cllr and Chair of the meeting Geoff Cook clearly approve of the first deep coal mine in the UK in decades. Incredibly the close proximity (8km) to Sellafield was not discussed at all by councillors or by their officials.



Part 2 . Part 2. Official of Cumbria County Council outlining how adverse effects can be mitigated from the first deep coal mine in the UK in decades (really?)


Part 3. Dr Henry Adams of SLACCtt making a presentation to Cumbria County Council “SLACCtt most strongly objects to West Cumbria Mining’s application because the carbon emissions it would add are so huge that they would have very significant negative consequences that would far outweigh the benefits claimed.”


Part 4.  Dr Laurie Michaelis IPCC Emissions report author and coordinator of Living Witness.  making a breathtaking presentation to Cumbria County Council –

“Speaking to you feels like possibly the single most important thing I’ll do in my life.”

which they totally ignored.


Part 5. Sam of Radiation Free Lakeland/Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole exposes West Cumbria Mining’s false promises over jobs. “It would be truly difficult to find a bigger dead duck proposal than producing fossil fuels for a declining European steel industry. …Cumbria has had it’s fair share of dead and dying industries – old coal and now nuclear – we do not need another dead duck industry . . . Coal is not the future. It could perhaps be said of the WCM proposal that it was a well-intentioned attempt to bring employment to the area. It could equally be said that it was an unrealistic bubble from the start What we need are jobs that do have a future. Please look to the future stability of jobs in Cumbria and JUST SAY NO.”


Part 6.  Dr Stuart Parkinson, Executive Director of Scientists for Global Responsibility   “In summary, approving this application for a coal mine would be a huge step backwards for efforts to tackle climate change – and thus would increase the risks of extreme weather events such as storms and floods. Meanwhile, the economic case for the mine is flawed. Therefore, I strongly urge the planning committee to reject the application. ”   

Part 7. Mayor of Copeland, Mike Starkie tells councillors to Ignore the “sensationalist” claims of the objectors who have nothing to do with West Cumbria and the objectors views should carry no weight whatsoever (?! what a brass neck this Mayor has… many objectors are local to Whitehaven  and WCM is a dodgy company funded by who knows who from who knows where). Councillors agree entirely with the Mayor of Copeland (who makes the ‘Jaws’ Mayor look quite reasonable) and vote unanimously to approve the first deep coal mine in the UK in decades.  The Mayor points out that Sellafield are right behind this plan to mine deep holes in Cumbria.




Demo Tomorrow Kendal County Offices 8.45 to 10 am: Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole.jpg

Please join us tomorrow outside Cumbria County Council Offices in Kendal (Busher Walk).

We will gather at 8.45 to greet the Development Control and Regulation Committee who will be taking a decision on whether or not to allow the first deep coal mine in the UK in 30 years.  Bring Banners, Music, Bring Yourselves to show OPPOSITION to this beyond crazy plan.

Speakers in opposition to this plan include Dr Laurie Michaelis who has been a lead author for several reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and provided analysis and policy advice for the UK government, European Commission, OECD environment ministers and the UN climate negotiators.

He  will introduce his detailed presentation to the committee by saying  “Speaking to you feels like possibly the single most important thing I’ll do in my life. I know climate change mostly feels abstract and distant, but it is real and it is already wrecking the lives of real people. Your decision not to go ahead could save thousands of lives and help build effective action to prevent catastrophic climate change.”

Just this evening we have recieved a letter from Tim Farron MP saying “I am pleased to confirm that I have written to the Chief Executive of the Office for Nuclear Regulation to ask them to reconsider this decision not to provide detailed feedback, especially given recent concerns raised by bodies, such (published by) as the Yorkshire Geological Society which outlines the high risk of liquefaction at the Sellafield and Moorside sites.”

Tim Farron - Written to ONR.jpg

We only have five minutes each to speak – below is my presentation on behalf of Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole.  You can still sign the petition here .


PRESENTATION FOR DC&R Committee 19:3.19

I am Marianne Birkby speaking on behalf of Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole.  This is a Radiation Free Lakeland campaign set up following the proposal by WCM People have asked why would a nuclear safety group be campaigning against coal.

The answer to that can be seen in our petition which I present to you today.  

The petition headline says:  Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole – it is too close to Sellafield.  (1,154 signatures) 

West Cumbria Mining say our petition objections have been answered.  Not true.  Our objections stand and are escalating the more we find out about the plan. 

Others will speak forcibly today of the terrible climate impacts. I would like to concentrate on seismic  and water impacts.


At 8km from Sellafield the extent of the mine lies 600 metres from the Office for Nuclear Regulation’s legal remit to consult. The ONR say therefore that they do not need to be consulted by CCC.

For the ONR to completely wash its hands of any real scrutiny regarding this unprecedented deep mining so close to Sellafield’s 140 tons of plutonium is scandalous.  The Precautionary Principle is enshrined in UK laws that CCC are bound by and we would urge Councillors to ask the ONR for full consultation and scrutiny before making a decision.  That scrutiny should include a recent paper published last September by the Yorkshire Geological Society. The paper outlines the high risk of liquefaction at the Sellafield and Moorside sites. (1)

Barrow is the only place in the UK ever to have experienced liquefaction from a much smaller seismic event than that outlined in the recent paper.

A liquefaction event at Sellafield caused by coal mining induced earth movements would be disastrous not just for Cumbria but for Europe too.  The Precautionary Principle in this instance must be applied.


Coal, like nuclear is a water intensive industry, leaving long lasting carcinogenic products .  For every ton of coal, two and a half tons of water are required to wash that coal.  West Cumbria Mining propose to ‘recycle’ the water pumped from the voids and ‘surface’ water, this involves a series of lagoons to allow  toxic products to settle.  WCM’s proposal is to only use mains water the offices.  This is not credible. I have asked for scrutiny on fresh water usage but have not recieved any answers.  My calculations from WCM’s coal production figures is that the the mine would need to use 3 million litres of water a day to wash the coal before transportation.

West Cumbria’s fresh water situation is already stressed with many people in the Copeland area  suffering health impacts from having to drink a mix of 80/20 borehole

water.   Borehole water can be very good but not from a complex geologically faulted area which has been heavily mined in the past.  

To impose another water intensive, dirty and geologically damaging industry on West Cumbria is an attack on the most basic of human rights, the right to fresh water.


Tim Farron has written to the ONR asking that they reconsider the decision not to provide detailed feedback given the recent concerns raised over risk of liquefaction at Sellafield and Moorside. 

Reply to CCC from the ONR: 

“ONR ask to be consulted on developments within the off-site emergency planning area around the Sellafield site, which extends approximately 6.1 – 7.4 km from the site centrepoint.  We would not expect Cumbria County Council to consult us regarding developments outside this zone..”

The susceptibility of glacigenic deposits to liquefaction under seismic loading conditions: case study relating to nuclear site characterization in West Cumbria Authors: Martin Cross1*, Anass Attya2 & David J. A. Evans3   “The results of the assessments indicated a potential high risk for liquefaction for both horizontal ground acceleration events. Due to the variation of the ground and groundwater conditions across the sequence investigated, differences in excess pore-water pressure dissipation can be expected. In such circumstances large differential settlement and ground deformation are highly probable during a seismic event of magnitude (M)=6.0.”  Published by the Yorkshire Geological Society, September 2018

The Barrow-in-Furness Earthquake of 15 February 1865: Liquefaction from a Very Small Magnitude Event

  • R. M. W. Musson

“High intensity and liquefaction phenomena are usually associated only with relatively large magnitude earthquakes. An earthquake in 1865 in the northwest of England suggests that a sufficiently shallow small event can also produce liquefaction. The effects are well-documented in historical sources and include sand fountaining. Modern investigation is confined to documentary evidence owing to the tidal environment of the area where liquefaction occurred. Analysis shows that the felt area of the earthquake was probably only about 200 km2; however, heavy damage occurred in the village of Rampside and the maximum intensity is assessed at 8. Liquefaction is not uncommon at this intensity, but such a high intensity is not usually produced by such small erathquakes. The magnitude was probably in the range 2.5–3.5 M L .”    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/226374518_The_Barrow-in-Furness_Earthquake_of_15_February_1865_Liquefaction_from_a_Very_Small_Magnitude_Event

Assessing Water Issues in China’s Coal Industry by Hope Inman Advanced Science News:  April 30th 2014; “On average, for one tonne of prepared coal 2.5 tonnes  of water  is used”


While Other Colleges and Schools Strike for the Climate, Lakes College Backs the Beyond Crazy Coal Mine Plan…Why????

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Today’s Guardian

Meanwhile in Cumbria the Lakes College pledges support for the first deep coal mine in the UK in 30 years


Chris Nattrass, principal of Lakes College, Sellafield employees Stuart Burke and Liam Wood, and Colin Reed, chairman of the Board for the national college

While other schools and colleges are striking to to stop fossil fuels being dug up out of the ground and burnt,  one of Cumbria’s leading colleges is in a parallel universe.

The following submission has been sent to Cumbria County Council in support of the first deep coal mine in the UK in 30 years.

As Principal of Lakes College, I write in support of the proposal for West Cumbria Mining in Copeland. I believe this will have a very positive impact upon the Cumbrian economy providing significant employment and skills opportunities for local residents.  

Chris Nattrass.   Principle of Lakes College – (which is also the National College for Nuclear)


Tweet the Queen: Tis She Who Holds the Key to the Irish Sea’s Coal

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

We do have bad news that Cumbria County Council’s officers have recommended approval of the first deep coal mine in 30 years (there are conditions but even so).

I will be speaking at the meeting on 19th March in Kendal on behalf of Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole to oppose this diabolic plan and hope that folk with join us in demonstrating opposition.

We will meet outside Cumbria County Council Offices in Kendal (where folk can also get married)  from 8.45 to visibly show our opposition to this crazy plan.   There is a facebook group for the demo here

You can write and show opposition too up till the date of the meeting.

One way to do this is to send a tweet to the Monarch who has entered into an arrangement with the Developers, West Cumbria Mining.

My tweet:

Please scrap the arrangement with West Cumbria Mining for the first deep coal mine in 30 years. The Crown own the subsea mineral rights and have the authority and wherewithal to prevent this rape of the Irish Sea 8km from Sellafield. Thanks!!

Please send your own tweet (best keep it polite) to the Monarch

There is more info about the totally dodgy arrangement between the Monarchy and West Cumbria Mining here

Also Thank you so much if you have signed the petition Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole (its too near Sellafield!), can you please help spread the word by forwarding the link below to your friends?  This petition and this terrible plan has recieved so very little scrutiny from the mainstream!



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

COAL!! BBC & Magical Thinking

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Ashes and Dust

The BBC’s latest Christmas Cracker is to promote the first deep coal mine in the UK in 30 years like there is no tomorrow.

Yesterday’s Radio 4 PM programme treated listeners to the most highly sweetened, sickening concoction of greenwash promoting a coal mine.  The plan for Woodhouse Colliery under the Irish Sea extending over 50 years towards Sellafield  seems to be enjoying the most magical of magical thinking.

It is an enigma wrapped up in coal dust.  Where is George Monbiot?  Where is David Attenborough?   Where is the Extreme Energy Network?  Where are Extinction Rebellion? Where is Everyone?  What is the BBC’s Game?


I was interested to hear the PM broadcast about the proposed first deep coal mine in over 30 years. We heard from the mining developers, the Mayor of Copeland and former miners, all of whom expressed delight with the proposal. There were no dissenting voices. The reporter’s questions were superficial and too easily satisfied by the developers cynical reassurances that the steel would be used for wind turbines. This is nonsense to hoodwink the public, they could just as well have pointed out that the biggest steel structure in the world is nuclear related -over Chernobyl. This bias from PM is shocking given that the West Cumbrian coal mine is the most methane rich in the country. Despite false assurances from the developers on the programme, it proposes to produce middlings, (thermal coal) as well as coking coal, the majority of which is for export. The DEFRA Emission Factors for Company Reporting, 2017 give upstream emissions from coking coal supply as 442kg CO2e per tonne of coal. The mine will extend closer to Sellafield than ever before with the attendant risk of earthquake from such huge abstraction of coal. I expected to hear from at least one of those opposing the mine to point out the cumulative dangers, but the programme ended in a congratulatory tone. This is shocking bias from the BBC given that this is a development which is due to go before Cumbria County Council maybe as soon as February.

Complaint to the BBC Woodhouse Colliery 27,12,18