sent to press
COUNCIL PLAN TO RATIFY OUTRAGEOUS ‘YES’ TO COAL MINE
Back in spring of this year the first deep coal mine in the UK in decades was given unanimous approval by Cumbria County Council.
COKING COAL AND JOBS.
Following the threat of legal action by campaigners Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole, the Council have nervously decided that they need to ratify their approval. Their unanimous approval was based on the need for coking coal and jobs in the West Cumbrian town of Whitehaven. Coal mining ceased in Whitehaven in 1986 when the Haig Pit closed. Since then this harbour town has increasingly become a satellite of Sellafield with new offices being built by demolishing heritage architecture and decanting workers from the nuclear waste site. One of the trendy new offices housing Sellafield staff is adjacent to a foul chimney which has been left as a feature. The foul chimney originally vented methane out of the old mines.
Following the council’s decision based on the ‘need for jobs and coking coal’ there was outrage expressed in a previously rather muted national press despite letters to The Guardian and others. Perhaps because of this outrage and surprise that plans for a coal mine under the Irish Sea bed should be approved, the then Secretary of State, James Brokenshire MP issued a ‘holding direction’ under article 31 of the Town and Country Planning Order 2015. This prevents the release of the Council’s decision until the Secretary of States decides whether to call in the application for public inquiry.
Demo outside County Offices, Kendal prior to the 19th March unanimous approval vote by Cumbria County Council .
LAWYERS LEIGH DAY
The letter sent to Cumbria County Council on 20th June from lawyers Leigh Day opens the way for legal action in the form of a Judicial Review should the Secretary of State not call in the decision. Leigh Day’s letter which was made possibe through crowdfunding by Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole informs the County Council of a number of flaws and omissions in their planning assessment. The letter invites the Committee to formally re-consider its approval.
These flaws include Cumbria County Council’s failures to consider:
- Green house gas emissions of the mining operations
- The need for, and GHG impacts of, Middlings Coal
- GHG impacts of an increase in coal production.
Demo in Whitehaven attended by various groups, following the County Council’s ‘Yes’ vote
The letter from Leigh Day states in conclusion:
“For the reasons given above, KCCH formally requests that the Committee reconsiders its resolution to grant planning permission for the Whitehaven Coalmine development and asks that the Committee has full regard to each of the considerations listed above when it does so.”
Demonstrators in Whitehaven after the Council’s ‘Yes’vote
WHAT HAS CHANGED SINCE THE COUNCIL’S DECISION?
Since Leigh Day wrote their letter putting the council ‘on notice’ of legal action in June for their flawed decision in March there have been further developments.
This makes Javelin Global Commodities a venture capital company that sees coal and nuclear hand in hand. Murray Energy is on the verge of bankruptcy having left a trail of devastation in the US and is looking to squeeze the pips out of other stressed communities such as that of West Cumbria which is already suffering from the skewed socio-economics of nuclear. Uniper, the subsidiary of the Finnish state operated nuclear corporation Fortum, has recently produced a briefing paper of “analysis and recommendations to assist investors, insurers and banks in achieving a coal phase-out from Fortum and Uniper in line with the climate targets of the UN Paris Climate Agreement and protecting citizen’s health”. OK so why are they investing in a coal mine?
The civil society nuclear safety group Radiation Free Lakeland was founded over 10 years ago out of sheer frustration over the lack of unequivocal opposition to the government’s ‘Managing Radioactive Wastes Safely’ plan for geological ‘disposal’ of intermediate and high level nuclear wastes. Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole is another Radiation Free Lakeland campaign that was borne out of similar frustrations with seeing West Cumbria Mining get away with outragous PR spin for its mine proposal just five miles from Sellafield. Marianne Birkby the founder of Radiation Free Lakeland says “the plan for the mined out Irish Sea bed is to hyraulically backfill the mine with goodness knows what into the voids. Adding nuclear partners into the mix inspires apprehension that there is more to this coal mine than meets the eye and what meets the eye really is bad enough!”
Campaigners are urging people to contact Cumbria County Council with their opposition to ratification of the coal mine plan. People can email the Development Control Committee firstname.lastname@example.org asking that this outrageous coal mine plan is not ratified
The meeting will be in Kendal County Offices on 31st Oct with a demonstration outside the offices from 8.30am. Campaigners hope that as many people as can get to Kendal County Offices on 31st October will come along and demand that the Council do not ratify the decision to open the first deep coal mine in the UK in decades.
A petition of almost 2000 signatures has also been handed to Tim Farron MP by Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole to give to the Secretary of State asking him to call the decision in for a public inquiry.
Uniper/Fortum briefing paper