You can still write to oppose this plan until the Planning Meeting on 19th March – email
This is from South Lakes Action on Climate Change – Bravo!
Dear Rachel Brophy,
Re: Application ref 4/17/9007 by West Cumbria Mining Ltd re proposed coal mine at Whitehaven
Last week’s High Court judgement: A pro-fossil fuel Paragraph in the 2018 NPPF is effectively illegal.
I am writing on behalf of South Lakes Action on Climate Change to make Planning Officers aware of a High Court Judgement which effectively makes illegal a paragraph in the ‘Oil, gas and coal exploration and extraction’ section of the 2018 NPPF, which has important implications as regards how climate change impacts should be considered as a planning consideration at local government level. We at SLACCtt most strongly advise that this ruling and their implications are given urgent and priority attention by the Planning Officers involved in producing their report to the Development Control Committee on WCM’s coal mine application.
The attached letter is an addition to our letter of objection dated 18/2/18 and covers the above key addition as well as important implications of IPCC’s Special Report for 1.5 degrees, WCM’s carbon emissions and the many thousands of consequential climate deaths, and also a critique of WCM’s claims as regards emissions from shipping coal.
The attached letter was written just before I heard that the Planning Officers have produced their report to the committee on WCM’s application. We regard the implications of the High Court Judgement of sufficient importance, together with the implications of the IPCC SR1.5 report, and the consequent many thousands of deaths that the WCM project will cause, that the report should be withdrawn and revised.
The Court judgement means that Project Officers can no longer work on the basis that the NPPF, the Planning System, and indeed Written Ministerial Statements, are necessarily legally correct in facilitating or providing loop-holes for, the extraction of more fossil fuels. Fossil fuel extraction is now being legally challenged.
This means that the Cumbria County Council, its Planning Officers and Councillor Committee members, can no longer use an excuse that they have to follow government statements or policies that are pro-fossil fuel extraction, when they recommend or decide on fossil applications such as from the WCM.
This also means that any officers who advise councillors to accept WCM’s application, and likewise any councillors who vote in favour, will share responsibility for causing the many thousands of climate deaths and air pollution deaths that will very likely result from their decision.
Yours sincerely Dr Henry Adams (Ecological Consultant)
Re: Application ref 4/17/9007 by West Cumbria Mining Ltd for Development of an existing surface mine entrance for a new underground metallurgical coal mine and associated surface development including: […] at the former Marchon site (High Road) Whitehaven […] off Mirehouse Road, Pow Beck valley and area from, Marchon Site to St Bees Coast
This letter adds to SLACCtt’s 18/2/18 letter of objection to WCM’s proposal, which is appended here.
Both letters are also separately online, at bit.ly/SLACCttNOtoCOAL1 and bit.ly/SLACCttNOtoCOAL2 in date order.Key additions to 18/2/18 letter: High Court judgement on NPPF and its implications, IPCC SR1.5, WCM
emissions and consequential climate deaths, critique of WCM shipping emissions claims.
1. A High Court judgement last week has in effect made illegal a paragraph in the ‘Oil, gas and coal exploration and extraction’ section of the 2018 NPPF, which has important implications as regards how climate change impacts should be considered as a planning consideration at local government level. We at SLACCtt most strongly advise that this ruling and their implications are given urgent and priority attention by the Planning Officers involved in producing their report to the DevelopmentControl Committee on WCM’s coal mine application.
2. The High Court Judge ruled on 6th March that the Government was acting illegally to ignore recent scientific papers on climate science and fossil fuel extraction, when it copied across a 2015 Written Ministerial Statement into Paragraph 209a of the 2018 Revised NPPF, despite having received a report showing that the 2015 WMS was not scientifically valid. Although Paragraph 209a concerns onshore oiland gas extraction, nonetheless the High Court ruling has wider implications as regards all ‘Oil, gas and coal exploration and extraction’ in chapter 17 on minerals, including Paragraph 211 on coal, and also on government planning policies in general – where fossil fuels and climate change are involved.
3. Put simply, the ruling implies more widely that other paragraphs in the NPPF, and the wider planning structure put in place by central government where it concerns fossil fuels, need to be re-examined and updated with regards recent additions to climate science. The judge also appeared to accept that it is valid for campaigners and local government to treat climate impacts as a planning consideration at a local level (instead of leaving this consideration to central government policy under pressure from above). These 2 points are of vital relevance to WCM’s very high carbon application.
4. It is essential for CumbriaCC to look ahead at such implications regarding future inevitable changes in policy including to the NPPF, to avoid decisions that result in future stranded assets (If WCM’sproject is wrongly given the go-ahead, it will have to be closed down in a few years).
How does this apply to coal, WCM and CumbriaCC?5. 2018 Revised NPPF: Quotes from p.61:
Oil, gas and coal exploration and extraction
209. Minerals planning authorities should:
a) recognise the benefits of on-shore oil and gas development, including unconventional hydrocarbons, for the security of energy supplies and supporting the transition to a low-carbon economy; and put in place policies to facilitate their exploration and extraction;
211. Planning permission should not be granted for the extraction of coal unless: a) the proposal is environmentally acceptable, or can be made so by planning conditions or obligations; or b) if it is not environmentally acceptable, then it provides national, local or community benefits which clearly outweigh its likely impacts (taking all relevant matters into account, including any residual environmental impacts).
6. So 209.a is now illegal (or at least – the process that put it there). We reckon this should apply in a wider sense also to 211 – which persists with loop-holes for the most climate-damaging (and health- damaging) big fossil fuel. 211 should have banned all coal mining. For advocates of metallurgical coal aka coking coal being an exception – there is no carbon budget scope now for any new coking coal mines in the UK.
7. We have known for years that the NPPF does not accord with climate science as regards the emissions reductions required, and the 2018 Revised NPPF failed to plug the loopholes (Ref:bit.ly/growth-cc-nppf). Furthermore, legislation including even the 2008 Climate Change Act, failed to plug the other over-used loophole that allows fossil fuel advocates (including the UK government) to frequently claim “climate benefits”, or “climate savings”, for fossil fuel projects by confining attention to just UK territorial emissions (as shown by Paragraph 209a), and ignoring additions to global emissions. Claims of “displacing” possibly higher carbon imports actually mean adding to global emissions if the displaced fuel is burnt abroad. Such claims – if they are to comply with climate science, should be considered invalid if they fail also to apply to global emissions (to stop the hypocrisy of“gaming the [international carbon-accounting] system”). WCM provides an example:*
* 8. The “climate savings” from shipping coal that WCM wishes to divert us to, are only about 1% of the size of its combustion emissions, and are only realizable as regards global emissions reductions if another nation –WCM points to the US – is willing enough to leave in the ground at least 99% of the same quantity of coal that WCM wishes to extract. We doubt if the US would oblige by even 1%!
WCM would be adding its coal and all associated emissions to the global total without any mechanism to ensure any replacement of other coal sources. Increased supply would have an influence towards lowering the global price of coking coal, which would have a detrimental influence on the economics of lower carbon methods of producing steel such as using renewable-powered electric arc with steel from recycling, or new innovative methods under development for iron ore.
My spreadsheet calculations are or soon will be online here: http://www.bit.ly/SLACCttNOtoCOAL5
9. These loopholes have kept the door open to Banks Group to pursue new open-cast mining applications, and WCM the present project. All these coal projects are incompatible with the UK being on track for the 2015 Paris temperature goals, and even more so for keeping below +1.5 degrees, the latter now requiring the world to halve emissions by 2030, which for wealthy countries means the UK being carbon net zero by 2030.
10. Very obviously, the 8 million tonnes of CO2 per year that WCM coal would emit if combusted, canin no way fit with such a rapid and immediate emissions reduction requirement, and that’s beforeadding the significant within-UK upstream emissions from the project, and other GHGs such as methane. Such emissions would be very high in relation to Cumbria’s carbon budget. The emissions would undermine the possibility of Cumbria meeting a 1.5 degrees emissions reduction path, i.e. of reaching net zero carbon by 2030, and thus the aim for Cumbria County Council to declare a Climate Emergency to assist putting those targets in place. Also as Laurie Michaelis points out: “If Cumbria County Council knowingly allows this mine to be developed, it bears at least a share of moral responsibility for those deaths and may in the future bear legal responsibility.”
11. Climate-related deaths equivalent to WCM carbon emissions
I have calculated from WCM production figures that the combustion emissions from the 133 million tonnes of
coal they hope to extract over 50 years to be 400 million tonnes CO2e
Both Laurie Michaelis and SLACCtt (myself) have separately calculated climate deaths from a subset of climate health impacts (from a WHO report) and we produced figures of similar magnitude of thousands of deaths from the subset category alone. It would be significantly higher if other categories of coal-products-related deaths are added. I have calculated a minimum of 1 climate death per year in the subset category from 1 year of WCM emissions. x50x100 gives a minimum of around 5,000+ deaths over 100 years from 50 years mining, which relates to over ten deaths per job. A more-than linear relationship (which is more likely according to LM), could hugely amplify these figures (NB: see LM’s submissions for details as well as what they mean and imply).
This means that Officers writing the report, and Committee members making the final decision – will be deciding the fate of many thousands of lives – and would need to use their own ethical and moral judgements. The High Court ruling means that an equivalent of “just following orders” (which I have seen too much in hearings by other committees) would have even less ethical weight now than before the ruling.
We must no longer discount or externalize impacts outside of application localities in space and over time.My spreadsheet calculations for emissions and deaths are, or soon will be, online here: http://www.bit.ly/SLACCttNOtoCOAL4
12. SLACCtt thus recommends that CumbriaCC now has a legal precedent as well as an ethical and moral duty to regard Paragraph 211 as legally suspect, and in urgent need of updating to accord with up-to-date climate science. This would mean looking forward to how policy including the NPPF will have to change in the future, and assuming that there should be no more coal mining in the UK. Cumbria CC should take into account the following:
13. On 2 May the Committee on Climate Change (CCCuk) will publish it’s “Report: Advice on the UK’slong-term climate change targets: In light of the Paris Agreement, and the IPCC’s recent special reporton global warming of 1.5°C, the Committee on Climate Change will provide new advice to theGovernment and the devolved administrations on the UK’s long-term climate change targets.” If thisreport takes care to avoid loopholes or ambiguities, and has regard for UK impacts on global as well as UK territorial emissions, then it is likely to state or imply that the UK must stop mining for coal, and urge other changes to the NPPF and planning. Please anticipate this.
14. The CCCuk informed Government that its policies are not on track for meeting UK’s carbon budgets over this coming decade. These budgets are to meet the “at least 80% of 1990 levels by 2050”emissions reduction target of the 2008 Climate Change Act. It is important to realize that climatescientists now agree that the “80% by 2050” target is now inadequate to meet its original target of +2 degrees or “a little above 2 degrees”. This means that current government policies head not just
slightly above 2 degrees, but a lot above 2 degrees, which means that big changes in policies will have to urgently be implemented – and should include the NPPF.
15. The temperature goals of 2015 The Paris Agreement are to keep “the increase in the global average temperature to well below 20C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.50C above pre-industrial levels”. Government emission reduction policies are thus totally inadequate for the goals the UK signed up to. Furthermore – CCCuk’s remit enshrinedin the 2008CCA have yet to be both updated to comply with the Paris temperature goals. Ref:https://henryadamsblog.wordpress.com/2018/07/02/how-the-ccc-is-not-paris-compliant/
16. The IPCC’s Special Report for 1.5 degrees has shown much more clearly, by assessing the climate impacts at 1.5 degrees and 2 degrees in comparison, that the impacts of 1.5 degrees are bad enough, that 2 degrees is much worse than 1.5, and that the 2 degrees target is now considered much worse than thought in the last decade (except by low-lying/island nations), and that the 1.5 degrees target should be the one to aim for rather than 2 degrees. Yet UK policies are still nearer +3 degrees than 1.5.
17. To stay below 1.5 degrees we need to do more than just greatly change UK policies, and I’vesummarized and collated relevant studies and their implications here: http://www.bit.ly/growth-cc andwww.bit.ly/growth-cc-nppf (on behalf of SLACCtt. Main target readers: local government officers and cllrs).
18. Furthermore, a significant number of climate scientists reckon IPCC’s SR1.5 is over-conservative, gives inadequate consideration of potential climate tipping points in its summary report, and that 1.5 degrees may be exceeded by 2030.
19. I hope by now you are fully convinced that Paragraph 211 should be regarded as incompatible withUK’s climate commitments, and that WCM’s application can be rejected on climate grounds alone (aswell as on other important issues summarized by FoE and other groups).
20. It is heartening to see that Councillors used climate impacts as a planning consideration against the high emissions application by IGas at Ellesmere Port, and climate scientist Professor Kevin Anderson gave evidence on the GHG impact: https://drillordrop.com/2019/01/22/live-news-updates-day-5-of-inquiry- into-igas-test-plans-for-ellesmere-port-well/ Fossil fuel applications must be challenged. The case for doing so is strong, and is now helped by the High Court precedent for challenging the NPPF.
21. As to priorities: It is important to view “jobs and growth” as what is possible within a framework of climate and environment – without going beyond ‘planetary boundaries’ (Kate Raworth 2017‘Doughnut Economics’). Acting on climate will require many jobs (e.g. house insulation).
22. CONCLUDING RECOMMENDATIONS
In light of the above, SLACCtt most strongly recommends that CumbriaCC does not shy from making climate impacts a key planning consideration, and to incorporate up-to-date climate science and itsimplications in both the Planning Officers report for the Committee and the Councillor members’reasons for the final decision. The pro-fossil parts of both NPPF and applications should be challenged.
Dr Henry Adams on behalf of SLACCtt
The above includes the first author’s interpretation of how the Judge’s High Court ruling should be regarded – in a way that looks forward in the direction to future such legal steps and policy changes to hopefully follow climate science (and hopefully not too far behind). I have appended copies of write-ups by Leigh Day and others below – so that you can form your own interpretation, which I hope will view the direction of travel that law and planning will have to take to catch up with climate science – and how this will apply to long-term high carbon applications (like that by WCM) that could if not stopped, become stranded assets.
I can provide further references for above statements if requested firstname.lastname@example.orgI have appended a copy of SLACCtt’s first submission to CumbriaCC objecting to WCM’s application.
I most strongly recommend everyone reads the objection letters by Laurie Michaelis – who has had much experience in climate science, and by by Maggie Mason – who has had years of very relevant experience in planning. I also recommend as regards climate impacts letters by FoE and Stuart Parkinson (Director of Scientists for Global Responsibility).
6mar19 Government’s fracking policy ruled unlawful – Leigh Day
The High Court has today ruled that key elements of the government’s national fracking policy are unlawful.https://www.leighday.co.uk/News/2019/March-2019/Governments-fracking-policy-ruled-unlawful
6mar29 TALK FRACKING WIN COURT CASE AS GOVERNMENT’S FRACKING PLANNING POLICY ISDECLARED UNLAWFUL – Claire Stephenson – Talk Frackinghttp://www.talkfracking.org/slider-3/talk-fracking-win-fracking-court-case-against-goverment/
2018 ECONOMIC GROWTH and CLIMATE CHANGE – annex re NPPF
The 2018 revised NPPF and the planning system in relation to ‘economic growth’ and climate change- Dr Henry Adams – draft towards a several-document potential SLACCtt publication, now online atwww.bit.ly/growth-cc-nppf
6mar19 Breaking: Campaigners win court challenge over government support for fracking – RUTH HAYHURST https://drillordrop.com/2019/03/06/breaking-campaigners-win-court-challenge-over-government- support-for-fracking/
6mar19 High court rules government’s fracking guidelines ‘unlawful’ – Court finds government failed to consider scientific evidence against fracking – Fiona Harvey, Environment Correspondenthttps://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/mar/06/high-court-rules-governments-fracking-guidelines- unlawful
6mar19 Government fracking policy declared unlawful by High Court
‘It is clear what the government must now do, namely hold a full review of its policy support for fracking’- Josh GabbatissScience Correspondent @josh_gabbatiss https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home- news/fracking-policy-high-court-ruling-government-unlawful-housing-energy-a8810101.html
6mar19 Fracking: Government guidance ‘unlawful’ rules High Court – By Dulcie LeeBBC Newshttps://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-47472732
BBC Northwest Tonight: High Court decision on planning rules for fracking
Kate Raworth (2017) ‘Doughnut Economics’ (book) – summary re climate in http://www.bit.ly/growth-cc
FULL LETTER AND FULL REFERENCES CAN BE FOUND HERE