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.
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.”
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 .
KEEP CUMBRIAN COAL IN THE HOLE
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”
The consultation period ends on January 28th, Cumbria County Council will still accept letters after this time but the sooner you write the better.
Send your email now to Cumbria County Council at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please also ask if you can speak at the meeting on the 22nd February – the more folk who write, speak and make a noise against this plan the better chance we have of stopping it.
Please remember to include the planning application reference number PL\1689\05 (4/17/9007) and your postcode in the subject.
The main points to make are
- This coal mine proposal flies in the face of Cumbria County Council’s Carbon Reduction Plan and Climate Local programme.
- The mine workings would extend to within 8km of Sellafield, this would increase the risk of earth tremors and worse.
- Collapse of the sea bed as a consequence of mining under the Irish Sea would resuspend radioactive particles from decades of Sellafield reprocessing.
Here below is an excellent letter from Sam who is a member of Radiation Free Lakeland. Feel free to use this as inspiration to write your own letter of objection. It doesn’t need to be long – just a sentence or a paragraph or two.
To Rachel Brophy, Development Control, Cumbria County Council
Jan 8th 2019
WOODHOUSE COLLIERY, APPLICATION 4/17/9007
In response to the current consultation I wish to make the following comments regarding the revised Environmental Statement from West Cumbria Mining [WCM]. This letter is additional to my submission of Feb 6th 2018.
I am writing to raise serious concerns concerning climate change, subsidence, earth tremors and the potential to trigger a major nuclear emergency at Sellafield.
I wish to OBJECT to the application.
I wish to raise four major grounds on which this application must be firmly rejected.
- The 2008 Climate Change Act
The revised Environmental Statement fails completely to address the UK Government’s commitments to carbon reduction within the 2008 Climate Change Act and the increasingly stringent restrictions regarding the extraction and burning of fossil fuels.
WCM state that at full annual production the mine will extract: 2.43 million tonnes of metallurgical coal; 350,000 tonnes of lower grade ‘middlings’ coal; and 150,000 tonnes of rock overburden (reject). (annually!)
WCM continue to refer to ‘metallurgical’ coal as if this is in no way related to the coal used in energy generation. The simple facts of physics are that all coal produces CO2 when burned for whatever purpose.
WCM seem to be completely unaware of the global urgency of reducing carbon emissions. The proposal to open a new coal mine in our current precarious climate change situation is completely counter to Government policy.
- Subsidence, earth tremors and nuclear accident/emergency.
I have written to The Office for Nuclear Regulation [ONR] regarding the application. In response to my letter they state –
‘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 (see http://www.onr.org.uk/depz.htm for further details). We would not expect Cumbria County Council to consult us regarding developments outside this zone, and I can confirm that we have not been consulted.’
This ONR map shows the offsite emergency planning zone around Sellafield. This shows the area where planning consultation with ONR is required.
The ONR state that Woodhouse Colliery would be approx. 10 km from Sellafield. WCM state the mine would reach within 8km of Sellafield. Which is correct? Surely it is essential to know exactly what the distance may be.
Even more crucially – this is not a mere surface development – the WCM application concerns undersea mining in an area known to be heavily faulted.
The nature of underground earth tremors and minor quakes is that they travel in unpredictable ways through the rock. Earth tremors have no regard for the 7.4 km exclusion zone drawn on the map.
The geology that WCM plans to mine is completely connected to the geology underneath Sellafield. That the mine would be outside the formal ONR planning zone by up to 4km is completely irrelevant given the unpredictable nature of earth movements.
Any earth tremor caused by mining or subsidence would have catastrophic effects in terms of a nuclear emergency bringing massive danger to life over a vast area.
- Potential collapse of the mine.
The ONR state – ‘The nature of the proposed mine (pillar and room) is one that is not designed to collapse at any point in the future, unlike for example long wall mining. Even in the highly unlikely event of a collapse, the nature of any ensuing earth tremors would be limited to very low levels. These levels would not be felt by persons on the Sellafield site and would not disrupt structures, systems and components important to safety on the site. ‘
This is a very worrying response. Firstly ONR states that they believe that the mine is not designed to collapse – then they state that if it did so it would not affect nuclear safety.
‘Pillar and Room’ mines can and do collapse.
“Crandall Canyon Accident Investigation
Summary and Conclusions On August 6, 2007, six miners were killed in a catastrophic coal outburst when roof-supporting pillars failed and violently ejected coal over a half-mile area. Ten days later, two mine employees and an MSHA inspector perished in a coal outburst during rescue efforts.
In the event of a mine collapse at Woodhouse the potential for injury and death would reach well beyond the mine shaft itself. Radioactive accidents at Sellafield could affect much of the UK and neighbouring nations.
There is a major inconsistency here as the ONR believe the mining process to be ‘pillar and room’ while the WCM website states –
‘Run-out and Pocket extraction will be the chosen mining method as this is a proven, highly versatile coal mining method that takes advantage of advancements in mining technology to mitigate risks associated with the Cumbrian Coal fields.’
How can this application possibly be agreed given that WCM and the ONR are clearly not operating on the same basis regarding the basic mining method and associated risks?
It is telling that WCM themselves are acknowledging the very real risks of the Cumbrian coal fields and are seeking to ‘mitigate’ them.
This is a glaring inconsistency and indicative of the wrong footed nature of this entire application.
What Nuclear Emergency Plans are in place by the County Council should tremors damage the containment vessels at Sellafield?
- Formal assessments of likely subsidence damage have proved to be very wrong
There are big lessons to be learned from the fracking industry at home and abroad.
Groningen in the Netherlands is Europe’s biggest gas field. The Netherlands Government has recently decided to close it down leaving billions of euros of gas in the ground. So far 80,000 homes have been damaged, families are living in sheds and schools are closed.
In the UK the Governments Oil and Gas Authority [OGA] has allowed fracking in Lancashire to proceed with the ‘traffic light’ system of monitoring tremors. Since fracking recommenced in autumn 2018 there have been over 30 Lancashire quakes recorded by the British Geological Society. Many of these quakes causing shut down of production. The UK OGA has said – ‘it is rare for damages, even cosmetic ones, to occur at magnitudes of less than 4.’
The truly frightening aspect of this is that ALL of the Groningen quakes measured less than 4. The Netherlands Government had insisted that they were harmless, yet the damage stands at 8 billion euros so far and the closure of the industry.
Groningen had few geological faults or earth tremors before the extraction began. West Cumbria has a history of both faults and of tremors.
The nature of subsidence and earth tremors is by nature unpredictable.
What is certain is that this constitutes a very real potential.
The damage caused in the Netherlands by allegedly ‘safe’ levels of tremor would result in radioactive mayhem were such tremors to occur in West Cumbria where we have Europe’s largest collection of deadly nuclear waste.
This potential risk of a nuclear accident/emergency is simply too great a risk.
There is no way that Cumbria County Council can possibly assure the public safety of this proposed mine and the application must be firmly rejected.
Member of Radiation Free Lakeland