Coal Boss Compiles Lastest Nuclear Dump Report for Government who have just Approved his Coal Mine.

High Level Cronyism and Corruption – Coal and Nuclear Waste

Still not raising an eyebrow in the press or by NGOs is the fact that the coal boss Mark Kirkbride is the Government’s key advisor on the dumping of nuclear wastes in big holes.

The latest Committee on Radioactive Waste Management report went online yesterday compiled by non other than CEO of West Cumbria Mining, Mark Kirkbride.

The government has just approved his earthquake inducing deep coal mine in the area of the Irish Sea near Sellafield where the GDF is proposed. This stinks of Government cronyism and corruption but hey – whose looking?

Coal Mine Boss Should be Sacked from Position as Government’s Nuclear Dump Advisor

Many will have heard by now the awful news that the coal mine in Cumbria has been approved by Government. What the public have not been made aware of despite the banner headlines is the fact that the coal mine CEO Mark Kirkbride is advising Government on the UK Nuclear Dump plan.  This nuclear dump advice includes “investigation techniques” which has started with the seismic blasting.

To Take Action Now – There is a petition to Sack the Coal Boss from his Government Advisor Role for the UK’s Nuclear Dump.

Radiation Free Lakeland’s Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole campaign has delayed the plan repeatedly with the amazing help of lawyers Leigh Day.

This is not the end of the story.  

The mine still has to win approval from the Marine Management Organisation in order to mine under the Marine Conservation Zone,  under the Irish Sea.  

West Cumbria Mining have however told the Planning Inspector “We may not need a Marine Management Organisation Licence.”

We will be fighting to ensure that the coal mine does not bypass this regulatory process (as has happened with the seismic blasting to test the geology for the nuclear dump as advised by the coal boss and carried out under “exemption”) 

We continue to be utterly appalled by the lack of attention on:  

a) the earthquake potential of this coal mine which is so very close to the worlds largest stockpiles of plutonium at Sellafield, and

b) the appointment of the coal mine CEO Mark Kirkbride as Government advisor on investigation techniques, costings and construction of a very deep hole (Geological Disposal Facility) for heat generating nuclear wastes in the vicinity of the coal mine.

The Planning Inspector in his recommendation to Government stated : “the risk of a seismic event cannot be ruled out” ( Report to the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities by Stephen Normington BSc DipTP MRICS MRTPI FIQ FIHE an Inspector appointed by the Secretary of State Date 7 April 2022- 21.245.)  Radiation Free Lakeland/Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole quoted extensively at the Planning Inquiry from expert reports showing that the coal mine would be “likely to induce seismicity”.   The Inspector however concluded that due to the lack of technical expert witnesses from NGOs on earthquake risks to Sellafield  “I consider the potential impacts in respect of future seismic events should be afforded limited weight.”  

It is beyond belief that the CEO of a seismicity inducing coal mine near Sellafield should be employed by Government as an “invaluable”  advisor on nuclear waste burial in a Geological Disposal Facility. The coal mine is in the middle of two target areas for a GDF.  Radioactive Waste Management (now Nuclear Waste Services) who are advised by the coal mine CEO signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the British Geological Society in June 2020.   The BGS are the very people who should be speaking out about the seismic impacts of the coal mine near Sellafield but they are collaborating with the CEO of the coal mine on nuclear waste dump plans.   This is many headed cronyism at the highest level.  

To Take Action Now – There is a petition to Sack the Coal Boss from his Government Advisor Role for the UK’s Nuclear Dump.

With all Best Wishes


Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole (and Nuclear Waste Out) – a Radiation Free Lakeland campaign


“We urge all those speaking against the mine at the public inquiry to give at least a mention to the fact that this coal mine would mine out voids faster than any previous coal mine in UK history and would induce earthquakes and cause subsidence in the Irish Sea and Sellafield area.”

“Earlier this year, the first batch of waste was safely removed from one of the most hazardous sites at the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing site. “Perhaps they’re going to bury it down the pit,” says a resident with characteristic Cumbrian grit.”

CEO of West Cumbria Mining appointed as Nuclear Waste Dump advisor

“The collaboration between both organisations is intended to support improved environmental outcomes relating to a UK geological disposal facility (GDF).”

Key Role of Coal Boss, Mark Kirkbride in Nuclear Dump Plans remains Taboo Subject in Press

Read the full article here

Thanks to Whitehaven News and local press for exposing the fact that rock characterisation boreholes have already been drilled at the ‘Low Level Waste Repository’ to prepare the way for Near Surface Disposal of Intermediate Level Wastes. We note the industry response: ” this study is separate from ongoing activities to find a suitable site for a Geological Disposal Facility”

This quite frankly is a big fat lie. The coal boss Mark Kirkbride, with his hat on as key member of the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management, has provided costings to Government on “co-location” of Near Surface and Geological Disposal. In other words the Near Surface Disposal (NSD) facility for Intermediate Level Wastes would be up to 120 metres underground in silos. The infrastructure of the NSD above ground facilities, including security, access and the like would be shared with a Geological Disposal dump to “cut costs.”

Here below is the Press Release we sent out to all national and local press as you can see the “co-location” issue is highlighted as is coal boss, Mark Kirkbride’s role as key advisor. The media, with the exception of the Isle of Man have shown remarkable solidarity in omitting any reference to the conflict of interest and cronyism regarding coal boss, Mark Kirkbride’s 2019 Government appointed role in the push for nuclear waste dumping.



Costs for the underground burial of nuclear wastes are due to be published shortly by the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM), campaigners have learnt. The Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) have tasked the CEO of West Cumbria Mining and CoRWM member, Mark Kirkbride with providing costings for geological and near surface disposal of high and intermediate level nuclear wastes.

Ever since the appointment of Mark Kirkbride to CoRWM in 2019, nuclear safety group Radiation Free Lakeland have argued that there is a deep conflict of interest at the heart of government on this issue. Government on the one hand will have the final say on Mark Kirkbride’s coal mine business interests and on the other hand are employing Mr Kirkbride to provide costings and “invaluable” advice on the burial of nuclear wastes. The Geological Disposal Facility is a major infrastructure project and is described by BEIS as “one of the most significant long-term environmental protection projects ever undertaken in the UK.”

Peaceful Demo at Drigg – on the Edge of the Lake District

Supporters of Radiation Free Lakeland’s new campaign Lakes Against Nuclear Dump (L.A.N.D) held a peaceful demonstration outside the Mid-Copeland Community Partnership “drop-in” at Drigg on Friday 11th March. L.A.N.D said “Drigg residents have been surprised to learn that 16 research boreholes 120 metres deep have already been drilled without any democratic oversight at the Low Level Waste Repository. The boreholes are part of a “feasibility study” for possible Near Surface Disposal of Intermediate Level Nuclear Wastes. Government policy would have to be amended for Near Surface Disposal to take place. L.A.N.D say “Locals at Drigg have every right to be angry about this. A map released under Freedom of Information as well as showing recently acquired long lease of the Drigg dunes shows the mining/mineral rights owned by the NDA and clearly shows a linked route from the Low Level Waste Repository area to the Inshore area of the Irish Sea. The mining and mineral rights mean that the NDA are able to extract rock without reference to anyone else.”

Freedom of Information answers have revealed that: “The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) has asked LLWR to conduct a feasibility study to assess the capacity of the LLWR site as part of their wider studies on near-surface disposal.

.. It includes the drilling of new characterisation

and monitoring boreholes that reach a maximum depth of 120 metres. All of

which are within the LLWR site boundary.”

“Co-Locate” to “cut costs”

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority have stated in their 2020 position paper on Near Surface Disposal that “The assessment of disposal costs has been made on the assumption that a nearer- surface disposal facility ..would be co-located with a GDF.” This is say L.A.N.D a breach of trust regarding the nuclear waste plans and they have

sent a 30 page report “Nuclear Waste’s Shifting Sands On the Lakeland Fringe” to Allerdale and Copeland Community Partnership members with a letter urging them to withdraw from the “Community Partnership” which they have branded “fraudulent”.

“Protected” ?

The Mid-Copeland Community Partnership “Drop-In” at Drigg on Friday told Drigg locals that the 16 research boreholes drilled without any democratic scrutiny “are nothing to do with us.” Meanwhile, coal boss, Mark Kirkbride’s costings for the Near Surface and Geological Disposal of Intermediate and High Level Nuclear Wastes are due to be published any day now on the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management’s website. A decision on Mark Kirkbride’s coal mine is also due to be made by Secretary of State Michael Gove. In another twist of logic both the subsea coal mine and the subsea GDF would be within the West of Copeland area of the Irish Sea designated as a Marine Conservation Zone by Michael Gove in 2019.


New Report by L.A.N.D

Appointment of Mark Kirkbride to CorWM

Freedom of Information request/answers re rock characterisation boreholes for Near Surface Disposal

West of Copeland Marine Conservation Zone designated by Michael Gove in 2019

2020 Position Paper on Near Surface Disposal – co-location with GDF to cut costs

CEO of West Cumbria Mining’s Advice to Government on Digging of Big Holes for Nuclear Dumps is “in the course of completion”

CEO of West Cumbria Mining’s Advice to Government on Digging of Big Holes for Nuclear Dumps is “in the course of completion.” No conflict of interest there then as his coal mine is also due to be decided upon shortly by the Planning Inquiry Inspector and then the Secretary of State. Cronyism with no eyebrows raised in the press (or by so many NGOs) is still cronysim. I asked for sight of the all the costings prepared by Mark Kirkbride for Near Surface Disposal and for Geological Disposal. The reply “The material in scope of your request includes items in the course of completion for publication on the Committee of Radioactive Waste Management website.”

Where is the outcry about this conflict of interest?

Coal Mine Boss/Govnt GDF Advisor Lays Off Staff to “Cut Costs” Ahead of Mine Inquiry. Questions of Epic Cronyism Remain Unanswered.

Coal Mine in “Search Area” for a deep nuclear dump (GDF) – Mark Kirkbride CEO of WCM is key member of CoRWM advising Govnt on GDF – Govnt say areas where coal can be found are “unsuitable” for GDF – but there it is slap bang in the middle of “search area”

The following is a letter to MP Tim Farron, following a reply from Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP Minister of State for Energy, Clean Growth and Climate Change, to our unanswered questions.

Dear Tim,

Thank you for sight of the reply from Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP, Minister of State for Energy, Clean Growth and Climate Change. 

It was good to hear the Minister say that “I would like to reassure your constituents that Radioactive Waste Management Ltd (RWM), the developer of the GDF, has absolutely no plans to consider coal mines for the geological disposal of radioactive waste, because they are simply not suitable. ” We agree that no one in their right mind – even those focussed on “Delivery” of a Geological Disposal Facility would consider putting a GDF in the vicinity of a coal mine, let alone putting heat generating nuclear waste into a coal mine.   This said we have to ask: Why is the coal mine slap bang in the middle of the Cumbria Irish Sea “search area” for a GDF when this subsea methane rich and faulted area is clearly “not suitable” for a GDF ?


This question of the relationship between the GDF and the Coal Mine has added piquancy given that the said Coal Mine is the business interest of Mark Kirkbride who is advising the Minister on the GDF having been appointed to a number of key positions on the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management.   The Minister does not address the thorny issue of coal/nuclear/private/public cronyism in her reply to you.

To reiterate: In 2011 the same year Charles Hendry MP was prematurely congratulating Cumbria Council on their ‘steps towards geological disposal of hot nuclear wastes’, he was also cutting the ribbon on one Mark Kirkbride’s venture as CEO at Itmsoil a Sussex based International company specialising in instrumentation measuring stress in large scale construction projects.  Mark Kirkbride’s Itmsoil company went into Administration in 2014 in order to give ”protection from creditors.”    Charles Hendry was the predecessor of  Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP, he was doing her job with the same responsibility for both the GDF and the Coal Authority.   


The Minister states that the Coal Authority has to be satisfied that the coal mine must prove its financial viability before  licences can be issued.  We have previously made the point that the coking coal from this mine would not be the premium quality product first vaunted by WCM but would be of a high ash and high sulphur content and most likely unsaleable (as coking coal).

The latest accounts from West Cumbria Mining clearly state that the company is financially unviable.   Staff have been laid off, the office in Haywards Heath has closed, the secretive financial backer is prepared to stand the cost until the end of the planning process and a third party funder says they are prepared to fund development, whatever that development is as we have not been given sight of it. 

In fact No one has had sight of the latest licence applications from WCM as the Coal Authority is deferring to Mark Kirkbride’s wish not to make his development plans public.  Given the relationship between WCM, CoRWM and with BEIS who have ultimate responsibility for both the Coal Authority and CoRWM this is an example of epic cronyism   WCM have made much of employment of the local workforce but the Directors have a past record of using administration tactics to avoid paying creditors and then rise phoenix like into another incarnation.  The amount of money spent by WCM on political lobbying (New Century Media/Tony Lodge – cosy visits by Mark Kirkbride with MP Trudy Harrison to BEIS)  is in the £millions. It is clear that PR and political and financial chicanery is more important than keeping the WCM office staff on.  

The paperwork has already been put into place by WCM to ensure that when it all goes pear shaped (or to plan?)  WCM’s land and assets go to EMR Capital who are acting on behalf of other parties.

Further Questions include:

  1. Why is Mark Kirkbride’s coal mine included slap bang in the middle of the Irish Sea “search area” for a GDF when as the Minister has confirmed this subsea methane rich and heavily faulted area is clearly “not suitable” ?   
  2. Why has the Coal Authority not stepped in already Blocked the Licences and prevented an expensive public inquiry for a development that local planners no longer support and is financially insecure?  WCM’s  latest accounts indicate financial insecurity with staff lay offs to “cut costs.”  The coal mine with its high ash and high sulphur coal is no longer/never was financially viable. 
  3. Finally and perhaps most importantly but most ignored,  Sellafield’s infrastructure just five miles away is at serious risk from this coal mine (notwithstanding the nonchalance of the Office for Nuclear Regulation). On the Sellafield site, the Magnox Swarf Silo  for example has unknown leaks from unknown cracks in the concrete containment which is partly beneath ground.  Sellafield have last month asked for help in finding and mitigating the leak of 550 gallons per day of radioactive liquor into groundwater beneath the site from unknown cracks. Fracking was halted because of earthquake risk and yet the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering have stated that coal mining induced earthquakes are of a magnitude greater than fracking : “Seismicity induced by hydraulic fracturing is likely to be of smaller magnitude than the UK’s largest natural seismic events and those induced by coal mining”.  Sellafield is on the Lake District Boundary Fault and WCM plans to abstract profligate amounts of ground water from their newly voided mine via the Byerstead Fault – no one knows how these faults relate to each other.   Why aren’t lessons being learnt in the Sellafield area from the fracking experience in the Blackpool area when coal mine induced seismicity is of a magnitude greater than that of fracking?

Many thanks for persisting with our questions to Ministers.

With best wishes,


Radiation Free Lakeland

Campaigns include Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole and Lakes Against Nuclear Dump

Additional Notes
WCM on the Rocks – or Ready for Next Venture?

Sellafield Leaks – Ongoing –

06 Jul 2021
View / Download(PDF file, link opens in new window)
06 Jul 2021Group of companies’ accounts made up to 30 June 2020View PDF Group of companies’ accounts made up to 30 June 2020 – link opens in a new window – 32 pages(32 pages)

Letter from the Minister

Dear Tim,

The Rt Hon Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP

Minister of State for Energy, Clean Growth and Climate Change

Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy
1 Victoria Street


T +44 (0) 20 7215 5000 E W

Our ref: MCSL2021/15192 Your ref: TF126325

6 July 2021

Thank you for your email dated 11 May, to the Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng MP, on behalf of your constituents, regarding the West Cumbria Mine. I am responding as this matter falls within my Ministerial portfolio.

There is a good deal of information about the Coal Mining licensing process, including the different types of licences and permits, available on the pages of GOV.UK. Including here: licences/guidance-notes-for-underground-coal-mining-licences.

The Coal Authority’s duties about licensing are set out in statute – in the 1994 Coal Industry Act – and to operate a coal mine an operator needs relevant rights and permissions including planning permission, a licence from the Coal Authority and to notify the Health and Safety Executive.

In general terms planning permission covers local social, economic and environmental aspects – i.e. is this the right place for this activity? whereas, a coal mining licence considers practicalities – can the mine operate in a way that is effective and financially underpinned to ensure that any land or property impacted can be compensated and the mine eventually closed in a safe and appropriate way. The Health and Safety Executive considers whether the operations can be undertaken safely.

When assessing an application for a coal mining licence, the Coal Authority are required to consider:

  • Whether the applicant can finance coal mining operations and related liabilities
  • The nature of the land or property that may be impacted by subsidence and that damage can be properly compensated by the operator.
  • That the operation will be carried out by properly experienced people In the case of West Cumbria Mining, this is what the Coal Authority will be assessing in consideration of the operator’s application to extend the term of their conditional licences. A conditional licence does not allow coal mining operations to commence (the purpose of a conditional licence is explained in the link above). As you are aware, planning permission for this mine is subject to an inquiry and it would not be appropriate to comment on the outcome of that but as outlined above, the Coal Authority assesses applications to it based on the duties set out in its enabling legislation.

To disclose the financial matters and commercial activity of the mine operator would be a breach of confidence to the clauses within their licence and their commercial interests. The Coal Authority also has a duty under S59 of the Coal Industry Act 1994 to ensure that it maintains confidentiality in respect of the business affairs of any individual or a business. Whilst the Coal Authority may be asked to input on aspects such as the history of the site or the quality of the coal, its processes are distinct and separate to that of planning and therefore any planning enquiry.

Given the Coal Authority’s duties under s59 of the Coal Industry Act, the Coal Authority have advised they would not disclose details of the application without the applicant’s consent.

Your constituents are also concerned that the coal mining licence applications are in some way linked to the process to find a site for a Geological Disposal Facility (GDF).

I would like to reassure your constituents that Radioactive Waste Management Ltd (RWM), the developer of the GDF, has absolutely no plans to consider coal mines for the geological disposal of radioactive waste, because they are simply not suitable.

The process to identify a site for a GDF is based on positive support from a willing community together with a suitable site. No sites have yet been selected. Two Working Groups (the first formal step in the process) have been formed in West Cumbria – in Allerdale and in Copeland – with more expected to be announced in England later this year. It is the Working Groups which will identify the initial search areas for a location for the GDF. The site selection process will stretch over several years and the decision to go ahead at a prospective location will ultimately be subject to a test of public support. It can only proceed if the community wishes it to proceed.

Thank you once again for taking the time to write. I hope you will find this reply helpful. Yours sincerely,


Minister of State for Energy, Clean Growth and Climate Change

Mr Nuclear Waste and Mr Coal – Top Cronies..Shhh

As you know, with the help of many individuals and organisations we have been successful in persuading Cumbria County Council to withdraw their support for the Cumbrian Coal Mine.  However the battle is not over yet and another may have just begun.

No doubt you will have seen and heard some of the recent media coverage ranging from Women’s Hour to the ‘Long Read’ in the Guardian.  This is brilliant in one way as the coal mine went for so long without any criticism at all from the media or NGOs. There are however high level omissions in all the reporting and I fear that our Government are only too happy for the focus to be myopically on climate rather than the blatant cronyism of the coal mine boss having been appointed to ADVISE the government on nuclear dump plans.  How on earth can the forthcoming public inquiry be impartially decided upon by a government minister when the most powerful tier of government, the Dept of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is taking advice from the coal mine boss, Mark Kirkbride?  Not only that but the Coal Authority (who are under BEIS)  are deferring to the coal boss’s wish not to place the new Coal Authority licence  applications in the public domain. Again how on earth can there be a public inquiry in which the public don’t know what the developer has planned?

We are countering these high level omissions but as nuclear safety campaigners with Radiation Free Lakeland (who took on the Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole campaign in 2017) our public reach is small.   

Please write to your MP,  (and anyone else you can think of – letters to the press etc ). asking them the following questions:

1.  How can Government make an impartial decision on the coal mine when the Government have employed the coal mine CEO Mark Kirkbride to advise them on “Delivery of a Geological Disposal Facility” for heat generating nuclear wastes?  The area next to the mine under the Irish Sea is in the frame.  Mark Kirkbride has been asked to produce costings on construction and mining.

2. How can the Public Inquiry be in any way open and honest when the public and presumably the Planning Inspector are not being allowed sight of  the developer’s latest applications for Coal Authority Licences, including in subsea areas of the Irish Sea where there is no coal reserve.   The Coal Authority have confirmed that they are deferring to the developer, West Cumbria Mining, who want to keep the licences confidential – even redacted public access has been refused.

3. Cumbria County Council have withdrawn their support for the coal mine and the Secretary of State for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy Kwasi Kwarteng has said there are compelling reasons to block the coal mine. Organisations from Ethical Consumer Research Association to West Cumbria Water (Save our water services} have asked: Why doesn’t the Secretary of State  use his discretion to make a decision on the Coal Authority licences, block the licences and save the public the huge expense of an inquiry?  

Here below is a recent letter (unpublished) written to the Guardian in response to Rebecca Willis’  Long Read. 

Dear Editor,

Dig Coal to Save the Climate ( May 27th 2021 The Long Read by Rebecca Willis) could be titled Dig Holes to Hide Nuclear Waste.  Way back in 2018 I wrote a letter to the Guardian exposing the dodgy coal mine plan (Cumbrian coal must stay in the ground where it belongs – Letters Wed 28 Mar 2018).  Truths yet to be exposed by mainstream journalists include: Sellafield (five miles away) fully supports the mine; the Coal Authority (who report to BEIS) handed developers the £2.5 Million Heritage Lottery Funded Haig Colliery Mining Museum and Land for £1; and most concerning the coal mine boss Mark Kirkbride has been appointed to advise Government on “Delivery” of a deep nuclear dump for heat generating wastes i.e. a “Geological Disposal Facility.”   Back in 1997 Cumbria County Council opposed Government plans (NIREX) for a Rock Characterisation Facility to test out Cumbria’s complex geology for a deep nuclear dump.  West Cumbria Mining have, since 2013, when they were given a free pass by the Coal Authority to drill ‘exploratory’ boreholes along the West Coast of Cumbria, achieved what NIREX failed to do.  Rock characterisation core samples are now stacked in boxes, like the final scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark, in the Haig Colliery Mining Museum. The Government’s Committee on Radioactive Waste Management have asked the coal boss, Mark Kirkbride, to give costings on the digging of a big hole for a deep nuclear dump. The nuclear dump is, we are told possible under the Irish Sea bed adjacent to the coal mine.  The same coal mine that will now be decided upon by Government (who are employing the coal boss as advisor).  Cronyism doesn’t get any more blatant.  There are high level omissions in the Long Read.

Finally , there is an ongoing Petition to draw attention to the intolerable situation with the Coal Authority Licences – please do sign and share

Deep Geological Disposal of Nuclear Wastes in the UK and The Coal Mine

Dear Friends,

Thank you to everyone who is donating and sharing this CrowdJustice campaign to Help stop the Cumbrian Coal Mine.

(All monies go direct to Leigh Day who are helping us to look at how we can challenge the plan on nuclear impacts)

On 15th March, The Science Discovery Group will be hosting a talk :

Development of a Deep Geological Disposal Facility for Nuclear Waste in the UK

Mark Kirkbride, Member on the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM)

What On Earth has that got to do with the Cumbria Coal Mine I hear you ask!

Well, just days after Cumbria County Council gave (provisional) planning permission to West Cumbria Mining in October 2019, the Chief Executive Officer of WCM was appointed to the UK Government body pushing the plan for the Geological Disposal of Nuclear Wastes in the UK.  The public body is called the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management.  They advise Radioactive Waste Management who had already appointed the Head of Operations at West Cumbria Mining to the job of Site Selection Manager for the Geological Disposal Facility (heat generating nuclear dump)  plan.  Both public bodies report to the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy who have voiced support for the coal mine plan and actively supported the plan from the outset (more on that in another post).

The area under consideration for a GDF is the Irish Sea area adjacent to the coal mine.  The coal mine itself would be directly under decades of Sellafield’s radioactive discharges .  CoRWM have somewhat disingenuously told us they have “no interest” in either the coal mine development by one of their (twelve) members or in the fact that the coal mine would be directly under the decades of ‘low level’ waste (including plutonium) already discharged from Sellafield and sitting in the (soon to be disturbed by mining subsidence) silts on the Irish Sea bed.   

We assume that CoRWM would also reply that they have no interest at all in the geological stresses that Mark Kirkbride’s  coal mine development would induce on the surrounding area of the Irish Sea which includes the area under consideration for a Geological Disposal Facility (subsea nuclear dump for heat generating nuclear wastes) for which Mark Kirkbride is giving a promotional talk on March 15th.

You see the corruption?  CoRWM say they see no conflict of interest in the appointment of West Cumbria Mining’s CEO.  Mark Kirkbride has also been elevated to Chair of a Sub Group within the CoRWM Committee which provides:

Scrutiny of and advice to BEIS and RWM on technical site evaluation criteria and plans for site investigation and characterisation.


  • scrutinise the application of the Site Evaluation and how appropriate it is for specific communities
  • examine RWM’s long-term planning and programme management initiatives. Provide feedback and informal advice by means of a written report”

So Mark Kirkbride is giving advice to former colleague at West Cumbria Mining Steve Reece who is now Site Selection Manager for Radioactive Waste Management.  The site in the frame is the Irish Sea area adjacent to the coal mine.  You get the drift ? (pun intended)

This information has been sent over and again in much detail to the national press and NGOs.   

It has been widely ignored.  

Is there some kind of ‘D’ notice on this shocking information?  

Just imagine if, a couple of years ago at the height of the campaign against Fracking, if a Developer had been appointed to a Government body?  The press would be all over it.  

As it is we are being treated to a Punch and Judy show on climate impacts of the mine – important – but this  diverts attention away from the corruption of governance that is going on in relation to this coal mine.   

I suspect the Government are only too happy to have pronuclear scientists lining up to denounce the climate impacts of this mine while totally ignoring the fact that the CEO of the coal mine has been appointed to high office in the governmental plan to push along a deep nuclear dump in the UK for heat generating nuclear wastes.

Here is a little competition.  The first reporter who manages to get the fact that the CEO of the coal mine has been appointed to CoRWM in the press will receive this original cartoon.  If anyone sees anything in the press which mentions Mark Kirkbride’s elevation to CoRWM please do contact me here.  

I expect to keep the cartoon for a long while …..

Please UK press and mainstream NGOs  – surprise me!

In the meantime it is my opinion that we may  have more chance of Cumbria County Council changing their minds over the coal mine than government who have appointed one former and one existing coal mine executive to their diabolic deep nuclear dump plans  and have supported the coal mine from the beginning.  

Please do keep writing to Cumbria County Council and asking them not to issue a final Decision Notice for the coal mine.   You can contact the Development Control Committee here.   Please do Thank the Chair of Committee who voted against the plan and ask that other members follow his example and do not issue a final Decision Notice for this coal mine whose impacts would be intergenerational.  

Best wishes


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

How Deep is Your Love?

Walter Asks : How Deep is Your Love ?


The most controversial coal mine in UK history has seen its executives (one former and one existing) appointed by Government to the official bodies tasked with “Delivery of the GDF. ” The promoted GDF is being touted in the area immediately adjacent to the coal mine plan under the Irish Sea. In March the Chief Executive Officer of West Cumbria Mining will be giving a talk promoting Delivery of a GDF – he has been employed by government to do this!

The lack of press and mainstream NGO scrutiny and questioning over this and other appointments is noteworthy.

Walter has written the following emails, and he raises questions that the mainstream press and conservation and environmental bodies SHOULD BE ASKING instead of expressing their continued surprise to a gullible mainstream press at why Government is so damn keen on this coal mine. It is no surprise when you view it through the prism of the Government’s desperation to get the ducks lined up for one or more GDF’s. Of course they are prepared to suffer some climate embarrassment in order to keep the nuclear shebang going. What is mystifying is why mainstream groups continue to give the nuclear industry a free ride. They are doing the public no favours.

Here are Walter’s thoughts…

“The Haig Pit mined for Anthracite, the top grade of Metallurgical coal. It was as financially viable as Warrior Coal and most certainly more viable than WCM could ever be. The Haig Mine was closed and capped because it was too dangerous due to the methane levels.It had killed too many men in its life. I was born in Frizington, the mining village near St Bees; my father was a miner, as were my grandfather and great-grandfather. I am now over 90 years old, but I am far from senile. I am appalled that undersea excavation of the seabed is proposed at a location only 9 miles from Sellafield, which is classified as the most dangerous industrial site in Europe. If the excavations cause an earthquake at Sellafield, and the decaying steel surface tanks, which contain a toxic mix of nuclear waste (including 3000 kg of Caesium-137) are breached, releasing their contents into the atmosphere, then a large area of North England could be made uninhabitable for years. At Chernobyl, only 27 kg of Caesium-137 was involved. West Cumbria Mining (WCM) Ltd is 80% owned by EMR Venture Capital, which is registered in the Cayman Islands, and the decision as to whether permission to mine is granted to WCM is being left to the Cumbria County Council. The people of Cumbria have not voted on this matter, but they should, and the final decision, which will be of such grave importance, should be made at Cabinet Level and have the personal attention of the Prime Minister. I think it would be fair to ask why, in a matter of national importance, did the Government not insist that only companies registered in Stock Exchanges, such as the London Exchange or equivalent, be allowed to seek permission to mine in such a sensitive location, only 9 miles from Sellafield. Several other important points come to mind: Is it feasible that WCM, mining under the sea for metallurgical coal, could obtain results that would ever be attractive for a Private Equity Company like EMR? (The major Met Coal miner in the USA (Warrior Coal) has a PE ratio of 59, ie, it will take 59 years for earnings to recoup the stock price). Thus, we ask what is EMR’s real motive? EMR would never invest in an operation with a PE of 59, unless they saw a hidden pot of gold in it. My own opinion is that the WCM proposal would be bound to be a loss-making operation for many years. Therefore, I suggest this operation would be quickly closed by EMR, once their hidden goal was achieved, namely, the creation of a Geological Disposal Facility (GDF) under the sea off St Bees headland, in spite of the geological unsuitability of this site. Look at the painstaking work done by Sweden in determining the location of its GDF, and the huge expense entailed. I have not found any analysis of the financial viability of the WCM proposal, but there is clear evidence of the weakness of WMC’s case here: WCM was, right from the start, nothing more than the PathFinder for a GDF undersea, offshore from Sellafield. I am sure one of the reasons WCM is registered in the Cayman Islands was to hide the Financial facts away from examination. It is absolutely certain that WCM never could make a viable economic case for the mine, and once it has done its PathFinder work for a GDF, it will be allowed to go into bankruptcy.So much for the 500 jobs.For the sharks at ERM it is the GDF which is the pot of gold it is after.

I suspect the government has always been aware of all this but is desperate to be rid of the Sellafield nuclear risk.that is probably why Jenrick waved it through and was happy to let the county council take the decision. If (and it is a big if) the Council turns the mine down it will be intriguing to see how the government acts.

It is very surprising no one seems to have asked why was it considered necessary to register WCM in the Cayman Islands. A mining company does not need such a registration unless it has something it wishes to hide.

Nor does anyone appear to have looked at the results of the USA Miner of Metallurgical Coal.

The company, is Warrior Coal, which lists on the NYSE and therefore its results are public.

Warrior mines on sites which are deep below the surface and are mined using standard excavation equipment.It is a well run company and is very efficient, It sells Metallurgical Coal globally, yet it struggles to make an acceptable return on capital. How, therefore, will WCM, mining under sea, with all the complications and expense, succeed.? Organisations like ERM which owns WCM normally looks for a return on capital of 50%

They certainly will not get it out of WCM, so what is its motivation ? The answer is probably that WCM is the PathFinder for a GDF – that is the pot of gold that ERM is after. A GDF involves investments of many billions of $, much of it public money, over many years. ERM is looking to access all that lovely money.

A GDF requires years of study to find a suitable location in stable rock, thus, an undersea location of dubious stability is clearly unsuitable for a GDF.

WCM probably will go into bankruptcy after a few years of a loss-making operation.

It is essential that, before the County Council grants permission it insists on being provided with the financial calculation made by ERM and WCM.

I think it is fair to ask the Labour Office if it has looked at the example of Warrior Coal in the USA, and asked why the true basis of WCM is hidden by the Cayman Islands Registration.

I think it is fair to ask the Guardian why it has not made any attempt to probe just what is going on with WCM/ERM and the British Government.

I think it would be fair to ask why in a matter of National importance did the government not insist that only companies registered in Stock Exchanges, such as the London Exchange or equivalent, be allowed to seek permission to mine in such a sensitive location only 9 miles from Sellafield.

I’ve also attached below some relevant links.

note: the mine would extend to within 5 miles of Sellafield

Write to the Committee on Climate Change and Ask them to Follow Up on the Letter to Robert Jenrick – It is BEIS Who Hold ALL the Cards!

Letter sent to the Committee on Climate Change today – please do write your own letters urging the Committee to write to their parent department of Business Energy and Industrial Strategy who hold ALL the cards. Write to them here:

Dear Committee on Climate Change,

Thank you for writing to Robert Jenrick Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government regarding the proposed Woodhouse Colliery in West Cumbria and exposing the fact that opening this coal mine would mean that the 6th Carbon Budget would not be achieved by the UK.

We ask that you also write to your parent Dept, the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy who bizarrely are responsible for the Coal Authority as well as the Committee on Climate Change. The Coal Authority (sanctioned by BEIS) issued conditional Coal Authority Licences to the developers West Cumbria Mining in 2013/14. The licences were issued above the heads of local councillors and the public. These licences have lapsed and West Cumbria Mining have applied for an extension/renewal. We ask that you write to the Secretary of State for BEIS Kwasi Kwarteng urging him to ensure that new Coal Authority licences are not issued for the coal mine in Cumbria. We also ask that you write to the Coal Authority urging them not to issue renewal of licences for West Cumbria Mining. It is a scandal that the original licences were issued quietly 8 years ago. Even more of a scandal now given that we now know the full implications of this coal mine which would be under the decades of Sellafield’s radioactive wastes on the Irish Sea bed and just five miles from the worlds riskiest nuclear waste site. The reasons not to issue licences are overwhelming. Please follow up your excellent letter to Robert Jenrick by writing to BEIS and the Coal Authority and ensure Game Over for the most contraversial and dangerous coal mine ever to be proposed in the UK.

Thank You

Marianne Birkby
founder of Radiation Free Lakeland a nuclear safety group who have been running the Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole campaign since 2017

COPELAND WORKING GROUP: Burying Heat Generating Nuclear Wastes is “The Right Thing to Do” No it Isn’t!

Copeland “Working Group” along with Allerdale “Working Group” are ostensibly the “local support” for a Geological Disposal Facility in Cumbria. They are enthusiastically going along with the ‘new and improved’ process of steps towards Geological Disposal of Heat Generating Nuclear wastes. The last process was a bit of a “dogs dinner” (said pro nuclear George Monbiot who supports making ever more nuclear wastes by burning plutonium) in that it allowed Cumbria County Council to veto the plan and bring the whole process to a halt. This time the process dumps any semblance of democracy with the County Council now having no “right of veto,” now anyone, anywhere can “express an interest” in “site selection” with a “test of public support” and Geological Disposal has been made a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (ie it can overrule local opposition in the “national interest”).

The stand out statement in the “Virtual Exhibition” from Radioactive Waste Manangement is that Geological Disposal is The Right Thing to Do (RWM are advised by the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management answerable to BEIS and comprising of a dozen or so members including the CEO of West Cumbria Mining, Mark Kirkbride).

In the words of Victor Meldrew “I Don’t Believe It!” Geological Disposal is NOT The Right Thing To Do – Not Now and Maybe Not Ever.

Here is an extract of the Newsletter from Copeland “Working Group” which dropped into my inbox, it is scary in its denial of previous findings and the inconvenient fact that there is no GDF for heat generating nuclear wastes in existence, anywhere! The Right Thing to Do would be to STOP making ever more nuclear wastes but somehow that thought never crosses the minds of those supposed to be thinking clearly about ethics and safety with regards nuclear wastes.

Here it is – read it and get active in opposing the new push to bury nuclear wastes under land and sea.

“Newsletter – Issue 3

January 21, 2021

Happy New Year to you and welcome to the third edition of the Copeland GDF Working Group newsletter.

Today we’ve launched a ‘virtual exhibition’ to bring the subject of geological disposal to life and give you a better understanding of what it’s all about.

During these current uncertain times it’s more important than ever to offer alternative ways for people to access factual information about what a GDF is, in an easy to understand way.

Please find a link to the interactive virtual exhibition here where you will find videos, graphics and information – including a 360-degree tour – to demonstrate how a GDF works, why it’s needed and what it could mean for Copeland.

It provides the opportunity to find out more about the GDF programme, offers a good source of information and it’s very easy to access, even from a mobile phone.

Please come back to us with your views, comments and questions and feel free to share the virtual exhibition link with anyone who may be interested.

Our engagement with people on the potential for consideration of a GDF somewhere in the area of Copeland is important as part of the search to find a suitable site and a willing community to host a GDF for the UK’s higher activity radioactive waste.

Our Working Group has three main tasks – begin to understand community issues, opportunities and questions about GDF; identify a search area or areas within Copeland which could then befurther investigated for potential locations for a GDF, and identify initial members for a Community Partnership that could take that work forward. The Working Group will not identify specific sites or decide on locations, it will merely suggest areas for further consideration by a Community Partnership.

Mark Cullinan, Independent Chair, Copeland Working Group

Community consent is at the heart of the process and a GDF cannot be built unless there’s a suitable site and a willing community.

Under normal circumstances, we’d be going out to speak to people face to face and offering them the opportunity to see an exhibition. We can’t do that right now, so we want to provide an experience that’s as near to that as possible. Please also take a look at our website for information.

And don’t forget that the Working Group and communities have access to a whole series of experts who can provide further detailed information.

If you’re part of a community group, we would like you to get involved in these early conversations so please do get in touch. We can hold ‘virtual’ meetings and provide you with some content for a newsletter or website. Our email address is:

Of course, those who don’t have access to online channels can access information through our contact centre, telephone 0300 0660 100.

This is undoubtedly the biggest environmental protection project of our lifetime, please let us know your views, ask questions and get involved.

Take a 360-degree virtual tour of a GDF

The virtual exhibition is designed to offer an interactive experience to help people understand geological disposal.

It’s been designed to replicate digitally the experience of visiting a more conventional exhibition with information stands, a 360-degree virtual tour and infographics to get people involved.

To access the exhibition click here and let us know what you think.