The following letters were sent to press on Monday – if anyone sees anything published please let us know- thanks!
To Local Press
All MPs in Cumbria have supported sanctions imposed on Russian companies and oligarchs, with the supplying of arms to Ukrainian forces taking precedent over any peace negotiations. There is however a strange anomaly in Cumbria with the appointment of a Russian government funded Director to West Cumbria Mining. In December 2022 just a week after UK Government approved the first deep coal mine in over 30 years in the UK Owen Hegarty officially joined West Cumbria Mining. He is founder and Executive Chairman of EMR Capital, the private equity company who put up the money backing WCM’s undersea coal mine near Sellafield. He has fingers in lots of pies. Back in December 2020 Owen Hegarty said “There’s never been a better time to mine coal on Russia’s Pacific coast due to China’s blacklisting of Australian coal So the new Director is an opportunist then – nothing wrong with that you might say. However this opportunist has no qualms about accepting money from governments. In the case of Owen Hegarty’s Tigers Realm Coal, the Russian government, to the tune of at least £30 Million.
The CEO of West Cumbria Mining Mark Kirkbride who appointed Owen Hegarty (WCM funder) is also advising the UK Government on the “biggest environmental project in the UK” aka an undersea nuclear dump for high level nuclear wastes (prime area in the frame is next to the coal mine). So much for national security – but hey we need the steel from Cumbrian coking coal to build Trident nuclear submarines to protect us from Russia who are also bankrolling the new Director of West Cumbria Mining. Why has this not raised lots of questions from those MPs who are “horrified” by Russia?
Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole – a Radiation Free Lakeland campaign
Letter to The Guardian
Following Government approval of the Cumbria coal mine the Guardian reports “coalmine is owned by private equity firm with Cayman Islands base” ( Sandra Laville, Environment Correspondent Thu 8 Dec 2022). The story does not end there. A week later on Dec 16th the owner of the private equity firm, Owen Hegarty was appointed as Director of West Cumbria Mining. Owen Hegarty is also the founder of Tigers Realm Coal who are responsible for bringing coal mining to a previously coal mine free area – in Siberia!.
Owen Hegarty the new Director of the Cumbria coal mine has not only generated massive environmental destruction in Chukotka and the Bering Sea area but has also been bankrolled by the Russian government to the tune of tens of £Millions playing fast and loose with the human rights of regional indigenous communities into the bargain. This is a massive scandal.
On the one hand Government is providing armaments to Ukraine against Russia and on the other it is approving an earthquake inducing coal mine near the worlds biggest stockpile of plutonium at Sellafield whose Director is bankrolled by the Russian Government. The same Cumbrian MPs who cheerlead for the Russian bankrolled Director’s coal mine are also cheerleading War against Russia rather than peace negotiations. It makes no sense.
Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole – a Radiation Free Lakeland campaign address supplied
Just a week after UK Government approved the first deep coal mine in over 30 years in the UK, a new director was appointed. Owen Hegarty was appointed by West Cumbria Mining on 16th December 2022. He is founder and Executive Chairman of EMR Capital, the private equity company who put up the money backing West Cumbria Mining’s undersea coal mine near Sellafield in Cumbria. He has fingers in lots of pies. Back in December 2020 Owen Hegarty said “There’s never been a better time to mine coal on Russia’s Pacific coast due to China’s blacklisting of Australian coal So the new Director is an opportunist then – nothing wrong with that you might say. However this opportunist has no qualms about accepting money from governments. In the case of Owen Hegarty’s Tigers Realm Coal, the Russian government to the tune of at least £30 Million. The CEO of West Cumbria Mining Mark Kirkbride who presumably appointed Owen Hegarty (WCM funder) is also advising the UK Government on the “biggest environmental project in the UK” aka an undersea nuclear dump for high level nuclear wastes (prime area in the frame is next to the coal mine). So much for national security – but hey we need the steel from Cumbrian coking coal to build Trident nuclear submarines to protect us from Russia who are also bankrolling the new Director of West Cumbria Mining. Why has this not raised questions ?
Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole – a Radiation Free Lakeland campaign
The Coal Mine is generating reams of copy in the press and much grandstanding by so many.
One comment by a reporter I spoke to back in 2018 caught my eye. Back in 2018 I described to the reporter the coal mine in all its glory – the carbon and methane emissions, the loss of ancient woodland and most importantly the proximity to Sellafield and the mine’s location under the radioactive wastes on the seabed ( we didn’t know then that the CEO of the coal mine was going to be employed as nuclear dump advisor to Govnt). This reporter was literally begged to actually report on the Cumbria coal mine. His reply to me was: “we shall circle round to the coal mine when the decision has been taken.” The Fake News is that the Nuclear aspects of this coal mine – the dangers and the cronyism are still being wilfully hidden from public view.
The reporter was then the Environment reporter for the Guardian. This is my reply to his tweet today
We wrote to you back in July to thank you for creating the Marine Conservation Zone above the proposed subsea Cumbria Coal Mine.
As a protector of ocean life legislating to “safeguard precious and diverse sea life for future generations to come” we are sure you must be as horrified as we are that the first round of nuclear waste Geological Disposal Facility “investigation” of the subsea area adjacent to the coal mine in Mid and South Copeland has resulted in damaging consequences to marine life.
Nuclear Dump Seismic Blasting in the “Protected” Irish Sea -“Invaluable Advisor” CEO of West Cumbria Mining
The seismic blasting which took place throughout August with blasts of noise every five seconds, 24 hours a day, seven days a week for 20 days was advised by coal boss Mark Kirkbride who has been appointed to the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management as “invaluable advisor” on nuclear dump (aka Geological Disposal Facility) “investigation techniques” and “costings” The nuclear dump “investigation technique” of seismic blasting coincided with the deaths of harbour porpoise, seals and hundreds of jelly fish along the West Coast of Cumbria. These deaths have been photographed and reported to the Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme- Dead Strandings. Over 50,000 people signed a petition opposing the “investigation techniques” as advised by coal boss Mark Kirkbride. 1000 m deep boreholes into the seabed into a methane rich and heavily faulted area of the Irish Sea are the next stage in the GDF “investigations” plan.
Context: First Opposition to the Coal Mine Was from Nuclear Safety Campaigners
To put this into context, the first opposition raised against the coal mine was back in 2017 by Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole (and Nuclear Waste Out) a Radiation Free Lakeland campaign. Over the last five years our vigorous and dedicated opposition to the coal mine’s inevitable nuclear impacts has been airbrushed out of the public debate. The sheer bloody minded recklessness of proposing an earthquake inducing coal mine close to Sellafield’s growing stockpiles of high level nuclear wastes has been carefully kept out of the public arena despite our constant lobbying of NGOs and the media to flag this up.
Climate Noise and Nuclear Silence
Climate, jobs and need for steel are valid issues but to stay utterly silent on nuclear impacts is morally incoherent and myopic. Deep coal mining produces more earthquakes than fracking and this coal mine is just a few miles from the UKs stockpile of plutonium. This is not virtue signaling on our part, it is a desperate plea to you to have a mind for nuclear safety. Damage to Sellafield’s ponds from coal mine induced earthquakes and the predicted subsidence of the Sellafield mud patch above the subsea coal mine would result in release of the “historic” radioactive wastes. Cumbria would not not be alone in bearing the brunt of nuclear fallout which would extend to Europe. Sellafield’s ponds of high level wastes would not be forgiving of deep coal mine induced earthquakes.
What we never could have imagined in a million years when we first started campaigning against the earthquake inducing coal mine near Sellafield was that the coal mine CEO, Mark Kirkbride, would be appointed by Government to advise on the digging of a very deep hole in which to dump heat generating nuclear wastes.
The Copeland and Allerdale “search areas” for a Geological Disposal Facility are directly either side of Mark Kirkbride’s coal mine, which should have raised a multitude of questions from mainstream NGOs and the media – but the silence has been total.
Back in the 90s there was an inquiry which halted the government’s “NIREX” plan to bury intermediate level nuclear wastes deep underground on the Cumbrian coast near Sellafield. In 2007 the government again returned to Cumbria for a second go, this time to try putting even more dangerous high level wastes deep underground. The NIREX Inquiry Lead Inspector Chris McDonald wrote in 2007 that “..10 years ago the nuclear industry had not found a way of maintaining the stability of that geology when physically exploring the underground site. This difficulty was linked to the second issue of “imperfection”, because the imperfection consists of simply failing to meet the internationally agreed criteria on the suitability of rocks for nuclear waste deposit. The site should be in a region of low groundwater flow, and the geology should be readily characterisable and predictable, whereas the rocks there are actually of a complex volcanic nature, with significant faulting” The rocks haven’t changed, the coal mine and surrounding subsea area of the Irish Sea is on numerous faults but now as well as creating instability by “exploring the site” there would also be instability created by the massive void of a deep earthquake inducing coal mine immediately adjacent to the nuclear dump plan. The nuclear dump plan which, by the way, is advised by the same geological instability creating coal mine boss. This is mind blowing stuff.
Corruption of Governance?
The fact that UK government is taking advice from the coal mine boss on nuclear dump plans while UK government also has the last say on the coal mine is a corruption of governance. Approval of CEO Mark Kirkbride’s coal mine while KIrkbride is also the governments key nuclear dump advisor would signal the triumph of vested nuclear interests over democracy. Approval of the coal mine would confirm deep and well founded suspicions unreported in the press or flagged by mainstream NGOs that facilitating deep mining for a 25km square, 1000 metre deep, subsea nuclear dump immediately adjacent to the smaller shallower subsea coal mine was the goal all along.
Marine Conservation Zone or Nuclear Sacrifice Zone Courtesy of Coal Mine CEO?
We urge you to honour your hard won Marine Conservation Zone in the Irish Sea and even more importantly to honour government commitments to ensure nuclear safety by halting the coal mine plan. A green light for the earthquake and subsidence inducing coal mine would signal a massive red light for nuclear catastrophe.
We plead with you -Don’t do it – Do not approve the UK nuclear dump advisor’s coal mine.
Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole (and Nuclear Waste Out!) – a Radiation Free Lakeland campaign
Marine Conservation Zones: “The UK is already leading the rest of the world by protecting over 30% of our ocean – but we know there is more to do. Establishing this latest round of Marine Conservation Zones in this Year of Green Action is another big step in the right direction, extending our blue belt to safeguard precious and diverse sea life for future generations to come.”
Michael Gove MP
Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
CEO of West Cumbria Mining – Key Advisor for the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management
Letter from NIREX Inquiry Lead Inspector Chris McDonald
Flaws in search for nuclear waste site
Thu 28 Jun 2007
As the lead inspector (now retired) of the 1995-96 public inquiry into the proposed nuclear waste facility in west Cumbria, I was concerned by a couple of points in your piece on the new site search (Report, June 26). The relevant geology in west Cumbria is apparently now claimed to be “stable, although imperfect”. But 10 years ago the nuclear industry had not found a way of maintaining the stability of that geology when physically exploring the underground site.
This difficulty was linked to the second issue of “imperfection”, because the imperfection consists of simply failing to meet the internationally agreed criteria on the suitability of rocks for nuclear waste deposit. The site should be in a region of low groundwater flow, and the geology should be readily characterisable and predictable, whereas the rocks there are actually of a complex volcanic nature, with significant faulting. Also, the industry was relying on an overlying layer of sedimentary strata to dilute and disperse any groundwater leakage, when the international criteria require such a layer to act instead as a barrier. The comprehensive assessment that reports the deficiencies in detail is available on the internet (jpb.co.uk/nirexinquiry/nirex.htm). The site is not suitable and investigations should be moved elsewhere.
The site selection process was flawed, not treating safety as the most important factor, and irrationally affected by a strong desire to locate close to Sellafield. A final point – the sketch design for the repository has not been newly revealed. It was submitted to the 1995-96 inquiry, and has subsequently been discussed in technical journals.
Thank you to all who have signed the petition and a really big thanks to those who spoke out at the coal mine planning inquiry about the earthquake/subsidence risks to Sellafield. Because of all of you the Planning Inquiry will now *touch on* seismicity and proximity to Sellafield. (The Planning Inspector stated this at the beginning of today’s proceedings)
We need to make sure that Cumbria County Council do more than *touch on* serious public health and safety concerns by requiring the developer West Cumbria Mining to agree to s106 conditions on seismicity at least as stringent as the Fracking Traffic Light System (s106 are conditions to be placed on the coal mine should the Secretary of State give approval)
Please do write to Cumbria County Council and copy to the Planning Inspectorate asking that a Traffic Light System at least as stringent as that for fracking is placed on the coal mine as part of the s106 conditions.
It is Cumbria County Council who have the power to insist on this condition on seismicity to safeguard us from earthquakes should this coal mine be given the go ahead. It is incredible that the issue of tree planting and landscaping is being given far more attention than the almost taboo fact that this coal mine, just five miles from Sellafield, WILL induce earthquakes.
The earthquake likelihood and potential nuclear fallout including resuspension of radioactive silts under the Irish Sea would have gone unrecorded had it not been for those who spoke on nuclear impacts.
Heartfelt Thank you to Irene Sanderson from North Cumbria CND, Lindy Powell, John Ashton, Neil Wilson and Samagita Moisha who all raised the nuclear/earthquake issue. I spoke on behalf of Radiation Free Lakeland and followed up with a letter urging Cumbria County Council and the Planning Inquiry to put conditions at least as stringent as those for fracking on the coal mine should the Secretary of State grant permission.
Please do write to Cumbria County Council and copy to the Planning Inspectorate asking that a Traffic Light System at least as stringent as that for fracking is placed on the coal mine as part of the s106 conditions (conditions placed on developments).
Email Cumbria County Council: Paul.Haggin@cumbria.gov.uk
copy to the Planning Inspectorate: ELZABETH.HUMPHREY@planninginspectorate.gov.uk
Our letter can be seen here – your letter doesn’t need to be long – here is a suggestion for inspiration : Please ensure a Traffic Light System at least as stringent as that for fracking is placed on the coal mine which is just five miles from the world’s riskiest nuclear waste site and directly under decades of radioactive wastes now on the sea-bed.
Remember to include your name and address.
The coal mine operators do not propose stopping operations even if earthquakes of a far greater magnitude than 0.5 ML occur. This is outrageous given that coal mining is known to induce earthquakes of 3 ML and more.
Geologist Peter Styles in his 2018 paper said: UK Seismic Traffic Light Thresholds postulate a cessation and subsequent modification (or even halting) of fracking activities if an earthquake of magnitude 0.5 ML occurs. This size of event corresponds to a movement of only a few millimetres on a short fault segment of a larger fault. Fracking and Historic Coal Mining: Their relationship and should they coincide? by Professor Emeritus Peter Styles
Finally, Thank you for signing the petition Coal Produces More Earthquakes than Fracking, So Lets Talk About Sellafield and the Mine, we will keep the petition open to raise awareness, you can help spread the word by sharing.
We are asking for two things. Firstly for the Secretary of State for BEIS Kwasi Kwarteng MP to acknowledge that he has the authority to block new licences/variations to existing licences for the Cumbrian coal mine and to use that authority to stop the Coal Authority licences and this coal mine dead in its tracks. This would save the public the huge expense of a Public Inquiry. If the Secretary of State for BEIS / the Coal Authority are minded to approve the licences for what now amounts to an amended development then what on earth is the point of the public inquiry founded on the previous licences?
Secondly, to let the public actually have sight of the developer’s new licence applications. If the licences are exactly the same as previously then why cannot we have sight of them?
The Public Inquiry is asking the public to comment on a development which has changed the goal posts. The public has no idea what the developers have now applied for within their new licence applications (we do know they want to drill 1000 m deeper than the deepest coal seam).
Here is some correspondence below with many thanks to local expertise!
Thank you for your letter dated 19 April 2021 sent on behalf of the Secretary of State in response to our email to him dated 29 March 2021. The apology for the delay in responding is unnecessary as it hopefully reflects the serious nature of the subject matter and the consideration that was given to it. That said, the response is quite unhelpful as the content simply duplicates the standard wording of correspondence from the Coal Authority on the same subject. You may be aware in this regard that the Coal Authority has refused to supply us with a copy of the West Cumbria Mining (WCM) variation request on the grounds, firstly, that it prejudices the company’s commercial interests and, secondly, because the CEO of the company has refused his permission for them to respond positively. Your response also misrepresents somewhat the situation with regard to the powers of the Secretary of State and the relevance of the planning application with regard to coal industry license applications. The essence of the WCM application is that they are seeking a second extension to two of their three licenses. These have already exceeded the normal maximum of eight years without any consideration of introducing competition, as required by law. It has little or nothing to do with planning permission or the division of responsibility between government departments.
In light of the above, we would like to draw to your attention the relevant clauses in the principal legislation that empowers the Secretary of State and restricts the Coal Authority in matters such as these. The first is Article 6 of the Coal Industry Act 1994. This is written in such a broad way as to give the Secretary of State the power, if he is so minded, to call in all available information from the Coal Authority, form his own opinion and then direct the Coal Authority to decide accordingly. This is to all intents and purposes the power to call in. The second is Article 5 of the same Act which, inter alia, states that the Coal Authority does not have power to take any steps for the benefit of another for obtaining planning permission. In this regard the delaying steps being taken by the Coal Authority are consistent with the tenor of your letter but not with Clause 5 of the relevant legislation. We would therefore hope the Secretary of State recognises this and chooses to exercise his power to intervene in order to protect the Coal Authority from erring further. Naturally, in light of his widely publicised statements on this project, on coal in general and his response to the recent parliamentary debate on the future of coal, we hope he will refuse to extend the licenses. In summary, the WCM planning application is not a material factor in determining both of the license variation requests and particularly the inshore area license.
The Secretary of State may find it helpful to be reminded that the citizen opposition to this highly speculative financial project, with its Australian origins and controllers, is made up of at least three strands. The most public strand is, of course, that articulated by those concerned about worldwide climate change and the mixed messages currently being projected by the UK government. Secondly, I speak for many who have concerns at the grave risk to nuclear safety around the licensed nuclear sites at Sellafied and Drigg that the mine and its influential CEO are introducing. The third strand relates to the topical issue of cronyism and financial suspicions that come from the ten year relationship between the CEO and the former Energy Minister Charles Hendry (who in office was keen to “accelerate” Geological Disposal of nuclear wastes), the contracted involvement of New Century Media Ltd and the obscure funding chain routed via funds in Singapore and the Cayman Islands. When these strands come together they really do make a compelling case for refusing these licence variations without waiting for the Planning Inspectorate to act on behalf of another Secretary of State.
In conclusion, we request that you review the above and provide us with a more thoughtful response to our initial email but, if you disagree with our understanding of the legal position, would you kindly explain why that is?
Marianne Birkby on behalf of Radiation Free Lakeland / Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole
One of our eagle eyed team has just reported that the Coal Authority have just confirmed that two applications for variation ( time extension beyond the normal eight years) have been received by them from West Cumbria Mining. A decision is pending.
The more people who write to ask that the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy do not issue Coal Authority Licences the better. Please write to:
email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Twitter – @beisgovuk
Please Ask that West Cumbria Mining Ltd License Applications CA11/UND/0184/N and CA11/UND/0177/N are not awarded extensions. These conditional licenses were given 8 years ago, over and above the heads of the public and local councillors with no semblence of democracy. Before the Coal Authority issue any licence for West Cumbria Mining to extract coal onshore and offshore in the first deep mine in the UK in 30 years there should be a full public inquiry.
If central government want to take local government into account, or even to decide, as Robert Jenrick said in his “it is a local decision,” washing of hands, then they need to announce a full public consultation. The original licences that the developers are now asking for an extension of were issued above the heads of both the public and local councillors.
As you may know, Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole is a Radiation Free Lakeland campaign and the clue is in the title . We have been saying since 2017 that a mine that would be just five miles from the worlds riskiest nuclear waste site and directly beneath the decades of radioactive wastes discharged from Sellafield and currently lodged in the Cumbrian Mud Patch is unjustifiable on health and safety grounds. Also scientists have noted that the “expected subsidence” caused by mining in this area would resuspend radioactive wastes into the water column and back to land”.
We argue that climate is not the only burning issue surrounding this mine which is also adjacent to one of the areas in the frame for Geological Disposal of Nuclear Wastes. In what looks like conflict of interest the Department of Business and Energy Industrial Strategy appointed the CEO of West Cumbria Mining to the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management in November 2019
All these issues are within the BEIS remit.
We argue that there should be a full public consultation before the issuing of licences to mine out an area the equivalent of Wastwater lake under the Irish Sea. The coal would be shunted for decades under the Marine Conservation Zone creating a massive void under the radioactively contaminated Cumbrian Mud Patch.
It is noteworthy that the area West Cumbria Mining have asked for a license extension for is Offshore Area No2. There is a big mismatch between the Coal Authority’s resource map and WCM’s Offshore Area No2 – an area which happens to be directly adjacent to the area being mooted as a possible Geological Disposal Facility for high level nuclear wastes. Just saying!
This seems like a faux ‘argument’ to big up Alok Sharma’s climate credentials as head of COP26. As BEIS Secretary of State Alok Sharma had it within his remit to put a block on the issuing of any new Coal Authority licences for this mine – the existing conditional licences were for eight years that was in 2013/4 they are due for renewal. Other unreported issues in the mainstream press include the appointment by BEIS of the CEO of the Cumbrian coal mine to the government committee (CORWM) which is pushing for the highly controversial, dangerous and unwanted deep nuclear dump. The so called Geological Disposal Facility would be adjacent to the deep coal mine. The coal mine would also be directly underneath decades of Sellafield radioactive wastes on the Irish Sea bed. It Stinks and its not just the fragrance of fossil fuel as the public are repeatedly being led to believe in press reports like the above.
The public is being kept in a fog of high level omissions with regards this coal mine.
An Open Letter to the Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng MP Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
Dear Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng
You said yesterday that there is “a slight tension” between the governmnent washing its hands (Pontius Pilate like) of the Cumbria coal mine saying its a ‘local decision’ and the UK government’s committment to net zero carbon and its chairing of the UN Climate Summit in Glasgow in November.
The UK Dept for Business Energy and Industry Strategy argue that the coal mine is “a local decision” but in the awarding of new Coal Authority licenses to the developers (West Cumbria Mining) the buck stops with BEIS. Accountability of the Coal Authority lies directly with the BEIS. The first set of licenses is due to run out on 24th January.
As nuclear safety campaigners who have been opposing this mine since 2019 we are very concerned that the climate aspect of this mine may not be the most disastrous to life on planet earth. BEIS is directly responsible for the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management who have appointed the CEO of the coal mine development, Mark Kirkbride to their Committee who advise BEIS and Radioactive Waste Management on “site selection” of a potential Geological Disposal Facility for Radioactive Wastes. The Coal Mine is adjacent to the area under the Irish Sea bed which is ‘in the frame’ for the subsea geological disposal of heat generating nuclear wastes.
Do BEIS believe that mining out coal adjacent to the area they are promoting as a Geological Disposal Facility will make the rocks more stable? Or that mining directly underneath the decades of Sellafield’s discharged wastes will make them safer?
The coal mine would be directly beneath the nuclear wastes discharged from Sellafield over the last 70 odd years. They are in the silts known as the “Cumbrian Mud Patch.” The UK and Ireland Nuclear Free Local Authorities have along with local nuclear safety campaigners Radiation Free Lakeland, urged Cumbria County Council to reconsider the impact of the expected subsidence of the Irish Sea bed and resuspension of the decades worth of radioactive wastes from Sellafield which are currently embedded in the silts of the Cumbrian Mud Patch. WCM have designated and identified a sub-sea mining zone of the Irish Sea lying to the west of St Bees Head and extending at least 8kms offshore and southwards to within about 8km of the Sellafield site. The WCM extraction proposals, using continuous mining methods, predict the extraction of approximately 3 million tonnes of coal per year over a 50 year period. This extraction rate will eventually generate a huge subterranean void space of approximately 136 million cubic metres (a volume greater than that of Wastwater Lake). Subsidence “is expected” beneath Sellafield’s discharged nuclear wastes currently (largely imobilised in the silt, remobilising the nuclear wastes into the water column and back to land.
Now we urge BEIS NOT TO ISSUE COAL AUTHORITY LICENSES for this Coal Mine which would be largely under the Irish Sea.
Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole (a Radiation Free Lakeland Campaign
Radiation Free Lakeland are claiming progress in their campaign to stop a new coal-mining plan for west Cumbria. The South Lakes based nuclear safety campaigners have had a reply to their call for the forthcoming decision on the coal mine to be called in should the County Council approve the amended plan.
The Secretary of State has replied to the group saying he will consider a call in.Radiation Free Lakeland were the first group to oppose the coal mine back in 2017 under their Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole campaign.They are the only group actively campaigning against the plan on nuclear concerns.
Founder of RaFL Marianne Birkby, raised nearly £11,000 by crowd funding in order to take on the legal challenge against Cumbria County Council’s decision.With the help of top lawyers Leigh Day that legal challenge has seen the coal plan repeatedly kicked into the long grass.
She said: “This reply from the Secretary of States office, saying that he will consider whether or not to call in the decision should the Council say yes is good news. “There are many reasons why this plan should be scrapped, not only on climate grounds but on nuclear safety grounds too.”
The Nuclear safety campaigners are keeping a close eye on the ongoing inquiry into the series of methane explosions in May 2020 at a newly constructed metallurgical mine in Australia. The new mine in Queensland operated by Anglo American has seen a catalogue of disasters.
It was reported – “Four of the men, who sustained horrific burns to their upper torsos and airways, have only just been moved out of intensive care, while the fifth miner was released from hospital in late May. Testifying to the intensity of the blast, he told the media that it melted the workers’ helmets and ear plugs and burnt their work clothing.” (http://www.coalzoom.com/article.cfm?articleid=22331 )RaFL have urged the council to look at the similarities and at the big nuclear difference between the new Australian mine and the Cumbria plan.The Australian mine was billed as “state of the art” which is highly automated requiring less employees and is a methane rich metallurgical coal mine. The big difference say Cumbrian nuclear safety campaigners is that the Australian mine is not five miles from the world’s acknowledged biggest concentration of radioactivity at Sellafield or beneath the Cumbrian Mud Patch – a named sediment ‘patch’ off the St Bees coastline containing plutonium and tonnes of other chemical and radioactive material from decades of nuclear reprocessing. Campaigners have sent councillors a dedicated report by an expert in marine radioactivity Tim Deere- Jones regarding the resuspension of radioactive wastes resulting from new mine subsidence.
Much has been made of West Cumbria Mining providing ‘local jobs for local people’.
“we prioritise working with local suppliers” they say.
According to WCM their preferred suppliers come from County Durham, Sunderland, Derbyshire, Scotland, UK-wide, London and Teeside. Hardly “local” to Cumbria – but wait, it gets worse.
The only genuinely “local” company is Parnaby Cyclones who provide machinery for coal washing and processing worldwide and are based in County Durham. Other companies on the list of preferred suppliers could be described as global conglomerates with complicated histories of merger and acquisition including many nuclear interests.
HS2’s two Tunnel Boring Machines named Florence and Cecilia have been made by Herrenknecht in Germany ready to be shipped to the UK.
According to details on the supplier list WCM plan at least three giant Tunnel Boring Machines including one from Herrenknecht. Another two tunnel boring machines would be provided, say WCM, by Sandvik – a Swedish company with big nuclear interests. As well as providing tunnel boring machines, Sandvik provide the acres of steel piping and thick protective sheeting so necessary to the nuclear industry. Steel for the nuclear industry has to be high yield and non corrosive. All high yield steel is quality recycled steel made with electric arc furnace, not coking coal. This is true for all high quality steel requiring high tensile strength and non corrosion.