Cracking Letter in the Westmorland Gazette …still no word from Mainstream Environmental Journos!

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole

Another Cracking Letter from Anita in the Westmorland Gazette.  In a long running exchange this is a reply to Kent Brook’s letter about the “need” for coking coal to provide steel for WMD etc.  Whether or not you want nuclear WMD …there are other ways to make steel. To mine the coking coal you also need to mine the ‘middlings’ coal, off St Bees under the Irish Sea.

Here is Anita’s letter as it appeared in print

“MR KENT Brooks, (Letters, May 10, ‘Defence must be priority’) is, of course, entitled to his opinion about the proposed coal mine near Sellafield.

However, my opinion, having had a coal face worker in the family for many years, remains the same. Excavating a very deep coal mine beneath the Irish Sea, so close to Europe’s largest nuclear waste facility at Sellafield, is a risk too far.

Europe’s largest nuclear waste facility at Sellafield is a risk too far

In any case, we should not be mining coal at all, if we are serious about trying to mitigate climate change and rising sea levels.”


There is a petition to Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole


Proximity to Sellafield and Earthquakes Good Letter !

Excellent letter in last weeks Westmorland Gazette in reply to previous  letter dismissing concerns about the coal mine plan.  Anita’s letter points out the close proximity of the proposed coal mine to Sellafield and the inconvenient truth that coal mining causes earthquakes.  Anita who wrote the letter tells us that the published letter  is much edited, nevertheless the main point about proximity to Sellafield comes across load and clear.

Coal Mine Poses Risk. WG April 19th 2018.jpg

Westmorland Gazette Letters April 19th 2018

Coal Mine Poses a Risk

“I dont find the ultimate paragraph of Do you need a gas-guzzler?  (Letters, March 29) in which the writer belittles the increased risk of seismic activity caused by coal mines, laughable at all.

Coal mining has been known to cause earthquakes, sinkholes and subsidence in the past.

Already there have been quite a number of earthquakes around the Sellafield area during my lifetime. In fact, Sellafield was built only half a mile away from a known geological fault line.

This coal mine proposal is a risk to our homes and properties we don’t need to take.

Anita Stirzaker

Lake District Boundary Fault.jpg
Lake District Boundary Fault runs alongside the Sellafield site (BGS Image)

Briefing Note from Radiation Free Lakeland on the Coal Mine Plan

Poster small

All Councillors on the Committee making the decision have been sent the following Briefing Note from Radiation Free Lakeland.  Please do use this as an inspiration for your own objections to the first deep coal mine in the UK for 30 years.  The planning meeting has been deferred (fourth time this!)  until May 30th so more time to get your fingers dancing on the keyboards, get those pens out, get on the phone to Councillors and Object, Object Object!!! Councillor Details here




 Part 1

  • Wildlife
  • Health
  • Seismic Activity and Sellafield

Part 2

  • Climate
  • Planning
  • Employment

 Part 1


The West Cumbria Mining proposal would have adverse impacts on designated sites of national and international importance

Minewater Discharge and The Cumbria Coast Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ)

The National Trust have said: “We are particularly concerned in regard to the potential impact upon the wider marine and coastal environment of the discharge of water into the sea, which has been pumped from the flooded anhydrite mine.” RSPB have also noted concerns regarding potential pollution of the Marine Conservation Zone.

Seismic impacts on St Bees Head Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)

West Cumbria Mining conclude that “minor seismic events will be significant below a magnitude 3 event, and any event which may occur as a result of mining activities will not cause damage to people, property or the natural environment” (Page 75 of the WCM Addendum: Seismicity). . The RSPB in their submission note that “We consider it imperative that the Council deploy a suitable level of expertise to ensure that the additional information provided by the applicant provides a robust assessment of the potential for seismic events – both in magnitude and frequency – to have an adverse effect upon designated sites listed above. In particular, upon the notified features of the SSSI – which include geological features and isolated breeding bird colonies. It should be noted that the SSSI supports England’s only breeding black guillemot – which are small in number and already vulnerable to stochastic events.”

Noise Disturbance, Dust, Vibrations etc.

The development has the potential to have an adverse effect upon the St Bees Head SSSI through disturbance to breeding birds during excavations and coal processing. Notwithstanding the developers assurances the RSPB state “In our previous response, we considered that there was insufficient evidence to be able to evaluate the potential for impacts upon the SSSI, nor the efficacy of the proposed mitigation. In particular, the noise assessment detailed in Chapter 14 does not make the link between the development and any ecological receptors. We note that no further evidence has been presented by the applicant in this regard. In summary, the RSPB’s opinion is unchanged – in that insufficient information has been submitted by the applicant to allow a robust assessment of the potential ecological impacts of this proposal.”

Solway Firth European Designated Site (Natura 2000)Precaution must be adopted when considering potential impacts from a development adjacent (1.5km) to an internationally recognised marine environment


The old Marchon Chemical plant and Anhydrite mine that fed it are key to the WCM application. As referenced above, The anhydrite mine would need to be dewatered. This would exacerbate the previous legacy operations which are still having a “significant” impact on health.

“There is also a significant radiological impact due to the legacy of past discharges of radionuclides from non-nuclear industrial activity that also occur naturally in the environment. This includes radionuclides discharged from the former phosphate processing plant at Whitehaven, and so monitoring is carried out near this site.” Radioactivity in Food and the Environment 2016.

These cumulative assaults on West Cumbrian health would be additional to well documented climate change health impacts and the intolerable danger that this mine would represent to the safe stewardship of Sellafield


At just 8km away from Sellafield (even nearer to Moorside) according to West Cumbria Mining this development is ridiculously near to over 140 tons of plutonium.   Increased tremors and quakes resulting from mining is well documented The potential for man-made tremors at the Sellafield site is too awful to contemplate.

There are~20 large holding tanks at Sellafield containing thousands of litres of extremely radiotoxic fission products.”

Nuclear Management Partners, stated in 2012: “There is a mass of very hazardous [nuclear] waste onsite in storage conditions that are extraordinarily vulnerable.

The National Audit Office (NAO) stated these tanks pose “significant risks to people and the environment”. These dangerous tanks have also been the subject of repeated complaints from Ireland and Norway who fear their countries could be contaminated if explosions or fires were to occur.

  • The North Western Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority have submitted to Cumbria County Council that

“Offshore Subsidence – resuspension and dispersal of radioactive contaminants. The documentation has confirmed to NWIFCA that a risk of subsidence exists and therefore there remains an overwhelming concern over the potential for disturbance and resuspension of radioactive contaminants and sediments.

Radiation Free Lakeland agree and would add that this risk of subsidence of the seabed would enable the resuspension of decades worth of radioactive and chemical contaminants not only from Sellafield but also from the firing of depleted uranium shells into the Irish Sea and the Solway Firth.




The WCM proposal fails to quantify the overall carbon emissions resulting from it’s activity. It also fails to address the climate impact of its activity. The application is clearly incompatible with national and international climate change policy and legislation as summarised below.

  • The UK is signatory to the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement committing us to the rapid phase-out of fossil fuels.


  • The UK is working to the 2008 Climate Change Act committing us to a legally binding 80% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050. The UK will phase out coal for electricity generation by 2025.   The proposed 50 year lifespan of the mine goes well beyond the UKs existing commitment to bring carbon emissions nationally to zero. When the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change publishes their latest report later in 2018 it is acknowledged that UK legislation will need yet further strengthening to meet our international carbon reduction commitments.


  • The National Planning Policy Framework states –


Para 93 ‘“Planning plays a key role in helping to shape places to secure radical reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, minimising vulnerability and providing resilience to the impacts of climate change and supporting the delivery of renewable and low carbon energy and associated infrastructure. This is central to the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development”

Para 149. ‘Permission should not be given for the extraction of coal unless the proposal is environmentally acceptable, or can be made so by planning conditions or obligations; or if not, it provides national, local or community benefits which clearly outweigh the likely impacts to justify the grant of planning permission.’


  • The proposed Woodhouse Colliery would produce combined CO2 from the methane emissions of the mine; the energy used in running the mine itself and transport; the burning of the lower class of coal and the burning of the higher class coal in steelmaking. At a production rate of 2.8Mt/year the produced coal would generate 1.24Mt CO2.


  • The WCM application seems to imply that coal used in steelmaking does not produce CO2 emissions. This is clearly not the case. WCM even claim to be reducing CO2 emissions compared to importing coal from the USA.     Some of the CO2 would be produced in Cumbria and some at the locations of steelmaking where the coal is to be exported.   Given that all countries are equally bound by the Paris Agreement and equally committed to reducing fossil fuel use – it is highly unlikely that steel manufacturers will be seeking to import Cumbrian coal.   There is rapid innovation in steel making processes to eliminate the fossil fuel component and the unknown impact of Brexit.



  • The FOE submission July 2017 states – ‘Despite the applicant’s stated intentions for the use of coke coal, the proposal is nonetheless incompatible with recent government announcements and consultations linked to coal phase-out. Its use within ore extraction and steel making will inevitably lead to its being burnt and CO2 release. . . . . coal is on the way out and applications for its extraction are incompatible with government’s strategic approach which aims to reduce its well documented contribution to climate change.’


  • FOE also state in Oct 2017 – ‘Our view is that the applicants have failed to demonstrate the scheme’s ability to comply with UK carbon budgets and to satisfy Schedule 4 of the 2011 EIA regulations (re consideration of significant impacts on…” climatic factors”)’



  • There are also planning issues relating to carbon, climate, subsidence and pollution issues which relate to other nations within and outwith the UK and the necessary consultation with such nations.



The NPPF statement on achieving sustainable development states –

‘International and national bodies have set out broad principles of sustainable development. Resolution 42/187 of the United Nations General Assembly defined sustainable development as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. The UK Sustainable Development Strategy Securing the Future set out five ‘guiding principles’ of sustainable development: living within the planet’s environmental limits; ensuring a strong, healthy and just society; achieving a sustainable economy; promoting good governance; and using sound science responsibly.’


The people of West Cumbria need employment opportunities to be sustainable in all senses – both economically and in terms of low carbon.

In addition to failing to provide a sustainable environment – the WCM application clearly fails to provide both a sustainable economy or sustainable employment.   There can be no jobs, economic growth or prosperity when the fossil fuel products are no longer viable.


One model for the creation of sustainable local economies is that of CLES which is gaining great interest – and action – among various Local Authorities in the North West and beyond. ‘ CLES is the UK’s leading, independent think and do tank realising progressive economics for people and place. Our aim is to achieve social justice, good local economies and effective public services for everyone, everywhere.


Additional Info

Coal Mining Causes Earthquakes – National Geographic


Fisheries and Conservation Authority Concerns: Irish Sea Subsidence and Resuspension of Radionuclides


Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the Steel Industry


World Steel Figures in 2017


Sweden aims for first place in carbon free steel race


Beginners Guide to Fossil Fuel Divestment


Progressive Economics for people and place


The Preston Model


Minister cites climate change in rejection of opencast coal mine

Sajid Javid says environmental impact of Northumberland plan outweighs economic benefits

Druridge Bay in Northumberland
Law firm ClientEarth said the decision was the first time the UK government had rejected a planning application citing climate change as the reason. Photograph: Durham University/PA

The government has rejected plans for an opencast coal mine in Northumberland on the grounds that it would exacerbate climate change.

Eighteen months after Sajid Javid first took responsibility for a planning decision for a new coal mine at Highthorn, the communities secretary said he had concluded the project should not go ahead.

Environmental lawyers ClientEarth said the decision was the first time the UK government had rejected a planning application citing climate change as the reason.

FULL ARTICLE HERE  – it mentions the plan for Cumbria but usual Guardian slippage – gets it a bit wrong saying the plan would be  ‘ South of Kendal’  – good that it is mentioned at all in the same breath as climate change ( no mention of Sellafield’s close proximity) still, this is the first ever so slightly critical mention of the mad plan in the national press!

Quaker Charity and IPCC Author Blast Coal Mine Plan

Quakers for Sustainability

Laurie  Michaelis was a Lead Author  on several Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports, including the Special Report on Emission Scenarios.  He continues to serve as an Expert Reviewer for the IPCC, including the Special Report on Global Warming 1.5°C currently in development.

Laurie is the Quakers for Sustainability expert and he has written to Cumbria County Council outlining why they should turn down the coal mine plan. His letter and memo is reproduced in full below.

Dear Rachel Brophy

Planning Application 4/17/9007: Woodhouse Colliery

I am writing to comment on the above application and to ask to be allowed to speak at the Development Control Committee meeting on 7th March.   ( note this is now 18th April)

My comments centre on the climate change implications of the proposed mine and on the business case for the mine. As far as I can see these have not been addressed in any meaningful way by the applicant. There are several issues which need to be addressed for the Council to meet its obligations within the National Planning Policy Framework:

  1. Since every country in the world has signed the Paris Climate Agreement, we are all committed to limit global average temperature rise to well below 2°C and pursue efforts to limit the temperature rise to 1.5°C (see Annex). These limits are only possible with a rapid phase-out of fossil fuels to achieve zero net CO2 emissions around mid-century. WCM appears not to acknowledge this commitment or its implications in proposing a new coal mine with a ‘notional’ life of 50 years. In removing coal from underground and supplying it to steel manufacturers, the mine would be contributing to a continuation of CO2 emissions that would run counter to the Paris Agreement.


  1. UK Government policy does not yet reflect the Paris Agreement but is still working in the context of the 2008 Climate Change Act. The Committee on Climate Change (CCC), which has a statutory role guiding the government in implementing the Act, has advised that policies need strengthening to meet emission reduction goals in the coming 15 years[1]. Lord Deben, CCC chairman, has said[2] that the committee will not provide advice to the Government on meeting its Paris commitments until the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C is finalised later this year. It is clear, however, from the bulk of the science and policy literature that has emerged in the last two years, that UK climate change policies will need considerable further strengthening.


  1. Through one assumed scenario in which its coal displaces coal from the US imported to Europe, WCM claims that the mine would reduce global CO2 emissions by about 40kg per tonne of coal produced by reducing shipping distances. However, the coal will generate 3100kg of CO2 per tonne[3], whether it is burned or used in steelmaking (in which carbon, the main constituent of the coal, reacts with the oxygen in iron oxide, the main constituent of iron ore, to produce iron and CO2).


  1. The whole system of iron ore extraction, shipping, smelting, manufacture and use needs to be, and probably will be, transformed in the coming decades. Many governments and at least parts of the steel industry are well aware of the need to rapidly decarbonise the sector and are working hard on being prepared for the future. Changes are likely to include reduction in the use of steel, so that most if not all demand can be met by recycling, and deployment of one or more of the ultra-low carbon methods of steelmaking currently being developed – whether based on biomass, hydrogen or electrolysis. Iron ore itself is shipped to the UK in larger quantities than the coal used to smelt it, from countries including Brazil and Canada. It would make more sense for any residual iron production from ore to be close to iron ore mines; some of the world’s largest iron ore producers (Brazil, China) also have the greatest potential for and commitment to renewable energy. The world does not need new coal mines.


  1. If this mine were to go ahead and the coal that is now safely underground in the custody of Cumbria County Council were to end up as CO2 in the atmosphere, there would be a serious risk of climate change impacts including some thousands of deaths extending long into the future (see Annex). The mine could also result in global loss of livelihoods and homes numbering many times greater than the jobs created in Cumbria. While within the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change the primary responsibility for reducing emissions falls on the country in which the emissions take place (in this case, use of the coal for steel making or as fuel), causal and moral responsibility for the emissions is shared by a) those involved in removing the coal from the ground, b) those involved in converting it to CO2 and releasing it to the atmosphere (the steel makers), and c) those involved in producing and consuming final products. 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.


  1. The Planning Statement does not address the significant risk that the proposed mine would become a stranded asset and would need to be abandoned within ten to twenty years, along with the 500 jobs. The mine would divert people’s valuable time, energy and creativity from addressing the need for sustainable development in the region.

I have included a short bio outlining some of my relevant experience in the Annex.

Yours sincerely


Laurie Michaelis

[1] Committee on Climate Change: An independent assessment of the UK’s Clean Growth Strategy, January 2018.

[2] Lord Deben was responding to a question on 7th February at the Faith for the Climate Network Symposium, London.

[3] UK Government Emission Factors for Company Reporting, 2017



Mortality risk associated with CO2 emissions

The UK government, along with every other UN Member State, has signed the Paris Climate Agreement. Article 2.1(a) commits the signatories to:

‘Holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change’.[4]

Global average warming currently stands at just over 1°C. Risks and impacts associated with 2°C and greater temperature increases have been set out in the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The Synthesis Report Summary for Policymakers[5], approved by governments of IPCC Member States including the UK Government, states that:

“Continued emission of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and long-lasting changes in all components of the climate system, increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems. Limiting climate change would require substantial and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions which, together with adaptation, can limit climate change risks.”

“Climate change will amplify existing risks and create new risks for natural and human systems. Risks are unevenly distributed and are generally greater for disadvantaged people and communities in countries at all levels of development.”

Among other risks, a 2°C global average rise would expose significant populations to extreme weather events, jeopardise food security and increase the range of infectious diseases, and make some current centres of population uninhabitable with large scale loss of homes and livelihoods. The human consequences depend on how people respond, but mass migration and violent conflict are likely.

The World Health Organisation has assessed the implications of climate change for mortality associated with a limited range of health impacts (heat stress, child undernutrition and three diseases)[6]. It finds a total of approximately 240,000 deaths per year from these causes between 2030 and 2050. This is with a global temperature rise of approximately 1.5°C temperature rise, resulting from cumulative CO2 emissions of approximately 2 trillion tonnes since 1880[7]. The mortality resulting from these emissions can be expected to continue well into the future – on the order of a century. On the conservative assumption that mortality rises linearly with global temperature and with cumulative CO2 emissions, since 2 trillion tonnes of CO2 emissions results in at least 24 million deaths, the 500 million tonnes of CO2 that would result from using the coal from the proposed mine would cause at least 6000 deaths.

Mortality is likely to rise nonlinearly with global temperature rise, because people will become less able to adapt to local changes in climate; and other causes of death are likely to be significant, possibly much more so, than those included in the WHO assessment. Climate change with temperatures exceeding 2°C would pose a substantial and serious risk to global food security and health, which could potentially result in early deaths for a significant proportion of the world population. It is possible that the next 2 trillion tonnes of CO2 emissions could cause on the order of one billion early deaths. In this scenario the proposed mine would cause 250,000 deaths.


Laurie Michaelis: a short bio

Laurie Michaelis is the co-ordinator of Living Witness, a Quaker charity supporting engagement with sustainability and climate change. He has a degree in physics and a PhD in energy studies and has worked with a variety of approaches for evaluating the climate change impacts of products, services, processes, activities and lifestyles.

In the early 1990s he was part of a team in the Strategic Studies Department at the Energy Technology Support Unit, assessing long-term technology policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for UK government, European Commission and World Bank.

He went on to the International Energy Agency and the OECD where responsibilities included supporting the development of national reporting and review processes under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, preparing policy papers for climate negotiators, supervising staff of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change National Greenhouse Gas Inventories Programme (then operated by OECD), and participating in ‘In-Depth Review’ teams evaluating national policies on energy and climate change in several countries.

He was a Lead Author or Convening Lead Author on several IPCC reports, including the Special Report on Emission Scenarios. He continues to serve as an Expert Reviewer for the IPCC, including the Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C, currently in development.

[4] The text of the agreement can be accessed at


[6] World Health Organisation, 2014: Quantitative Risk Assessment of the Effects of Climate Change on Selected Causes of Death, 2030s and 2050s.WHO, Geneva.

[7] There are multiple mechanisms by which CO2 is removed from the atmosphere and these are changing as a consequence of climate change, so it is not possible to define a CO2 lifetime, but a first approximation is that global average warming is proportional to cumulative emissions.


FURTHER INFO Sent on 1st March

1st March 2018

Further to my letter of 12th February (attached for reference), I would like to raise a further matter in relation to the climate change implications of the proposed mine.

West Cumbria Mining hopes to export the coal from the proposed mine, so emissions resulting from its use, whether as a fuel or for iron smelting, would arise outside the UK. However greenhouse gas emissions from the mine itself, associated operations and inland transport of the coal would form part of the UK’s national inventory and would need to be accounted for within the budgets under the Climate Change Act 2008. Cumbria County Council has itself committed to play its part in meeting the national commitment by achieving emission reductions from residents, visitors and industry, in the Cumbria Climate Change Action Plan, 2009-2014 (I can find no record of an update to this).

The DEFRA Emission Factors for Company Reporting, 2017 give upstream emissions from coking coal supply as 442kg CO2e per tonne of coal. A large part of this will be associated with energy use and methane emissions from the mine. At a production rate of 2.8 Mt/year, the proposed mine would generate 1.24MtCO2e. The latest figure I can find for CO2 emissions in Cumbria was given in a presentation by Phil Davies, County Council Climate Change Officer, in 2010 and related to emissions in 2005. That figure was 7.4 Mt.

West Cumbria Mining has not given an assessment of the greenhouse gas emissions from its proposed project, but based on the above figures, it would constitute a significant increase in Cumbria’s greenhouse gas emissions. It would make it impossible for Cumbria County Council to meet its commitment, enabling the county to play its part in reducing national emissions by 80% by 2050.


Yours sincerely

Laurie Michaelis


Letter to Tim Farron MP to ask that our Petition to the HSE is Heard and Acted On

Dear Tim,
Last April we wrote to the HSE about the proposals to extract coal within five miles of Sellafield and fracking five miles from Springfields in Preston.  We did not recieve a reply.
Last week we sent (after trying to hand deliver..just think Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy!) a petition of 1163 signatures (and growing) and a letter to the HSE asking that there should be a moratorium on the extraction of fossil fuel in such  close proximity to dangerous nuclear installations.
The Chief Inspector of Nuclear Installations carried out an assessment of seismic risk for nuclear installations following Fukushima.    However the report (Japanese earthquake and tsunami: Implications for the UK nuclear industry HM Chief Inspector of Nuclear Installations September 2011)
makes no reference to the impact of new fossil fuel extraction near nuclear installations and does not include the real possibility of induced seismicity from that fossil fuel extraction.
This is the reason we have written to the HSE to ask for a moratorium on fossil fuel extraction which is currently proposed so close to Springfields, Lancashire (the front end of the nuclear cycle) and Sellafield, Cumbria ( the back end of the nuclear cycle) both sites are at risk of criticality following seismic events.
The full letter to the HSE is included below. We have not recieved an acknowledgment.  We would be very grateful if you could ensure that this letter is seen and acted upon by the HSE.
with Many Thanks!


The Planning Meeting has been deferred yet again.  This will be the fourth date.

The NEW DATE is the 18th April 2018 – 10 am at Cumbria County Council Offices, Kendal.

This gives us more time to object.  The more people and groups who object the better chance we have of stopping this diabolic plan.

 To Object please write to

Quote: Planning Application 4/17/9007 – Woodhouse Quarry

If you or your group would like to register your intent to speak at the 18 April committee please contact before the 12 April 2018