What fantastic news that the government has rejected plans for an opencast coal mine in Northumberland (Javid rejects plan for opencast coalmine, 24 March).
This should put the nail firmly in the coffin of the plan for the first deep coalmine in the UK in 30 years. This would be at the proposed Woodhouse Colliery, which is north of Kendal (not south as wrongly located in your article) and under the Irish Sea off the beautiful coastline of St Bees.
St Bees happens to be the last place where the black guillemot nests in England, which is why the RSPB has opposed the plan. Other reasons to oppose, apart from the compelling climate-change argument, are that it is just five miles from Sellafield. The Davy lamp was tested out in nearby Whitehaven because coal seams here are so gassy with methane. What could go wrong with mining ever nearer to Sellafield? There is a petition to sign opposing this mad plan at 38 Degrees called Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole.
Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole
In 2016 The Ecologist reported that: “Especially serious are the ~20 large holding tanks at Sellafield containing thousands of litres of extremely radiotoxic fission products.” Discussing these tanks, the previous management consortium, Nuclear Management Partners, stated in 2012: “There is a mass of very hazardous [nuclear] waste onsite in storage conditions that are extraordinarily vulnerable, and in facilities that are well past their designated life”The National Audit Office (NAO) stated these tanks pose “significant risks to people and the environment”. One official review published in The Lancet concluded that, at worst, an explosive release from the tanks could kill two million Britons and require the evacuation of an area reaching from Glasgow to Liverpool. This certainly would negate Cumbria County Council’s strategic objective of avoiding adverse impacts from developments ( Objective 2, Cumbria Minerals and Waste Local Plan 2.27)
Campaigners Shocked At ‘What Coal Mine?’ Survey Response
Campaigners say they’re surprised that plans for a deep coal mine off the Cumbrian coast don’t seem to be common knowledge.
A survey in Kendal last week found that 100% of the respondents knew about the Thirlmere zip wire plans – but none had heard about the mine proposals, just 30 miles from Kendal – under the Irish Sea at St Bees.
Both applications will be heard on March 7th, in Kendal, by the Lake District National Park Authority and Cumbria County Council respectively.
Marianne Birkby from Radiation Free Lakeland said: “Of these two developments, the plan that will, beyond any shadow of a doubt have the most damaging and long lasting impacts on Cumbria and our neighbours is the coal mine.
“But this is the plan that campaigners Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole say is ‘going way under the radar’.
“Everyone questioned in the survey was astonished that there is a plan to open a new coal mine which would extend under the Irish Sea from St Bees.”
The developers, West Cumbria Mining, have told campaigners that mining could take place five miles from Sellafield but that ‘seismic activity as a result of mining would not be a problem.’
Opponents say it’s not a risk worth taking.
In September, campaigners met in Bowness to ask people to sign their petition against the plans, calling for them to “show resistance” to the first new deep coal mine in the UK for more than 30 years.