Extinction Rebellion seems to be very much in the news just at present. Here in Cumbria we have our own terrifyingly real threat of extinction. Not only is there Sellafield with its deadly collection of nuclear waste – we also have an ongoing planning application for a new coal mine reaching under the sea to within 5 miles of the nightmare nuclear site.
West Cumbria Mining have an active planning application with Cumbria County Council to open the first deep coal mine in 30 years. Given the urgent need to cut carbon emissions this is total madness. Given the proximity to Sellafield of mining operations, known to cause earth tremors, the proposal does threaten very real extinction here and now.
As far as we can ascertain from the documents available on the Cumbria County Council’s website there has been no consultation with Sellafield concerning the risks of a major nuclear emergency. Seismic disturbance affecting Sellafield would be a very rapid extinction of all life forms within a very wide radius. And wherever the wind blows. EXTINCTION IN CAPITAL LETTERS ON A HUGE SCALE.
And then there is the carbon. West Cumbria Mining [WCM] have a way of describing their proposal as the extraction of metallurgical coking coal for the steel industry – implying that somehow the burning of this fossil fuel is somehow different to burning fossil fuels for energy generation.
Burning coal is burning coal – and WCM plan to extract 2.8 million tonnes of it every year during the lifespan of the proposed mine. Assuming a 40 year life (following construction), and an average of 2 million tonnes a year, that is a total production of 80 million tonnes!
In terms of the Paris agreement and the current Katowice discussions this application must be stopped.
The WCM planning application was made in mid 2017. It has been postponed and postponed and postponed by Cumbria’s Planning Committee during all of 2018. It may, or may not, come to Council early in 2019.
We need to be as vocal and as visible as we can possibly be in opposing this hideous proposal. It is a very real threat to life on an unimaginable scale far larger than the threat to Guillemots that the RSPB has limited its comments to.
We have with the help of top lawyers Leigh Day ensured that we may still have a chance to stop the plan should Cumbria County Council say yes to this diabolic fossil fuel development. But lets MAKE SURE CUMBRIA COUNTY COUNCIL SAY A BIG FAT NO!!!
This application may be decided on these dates (tbc) in the new year by Cumbria County Council’s Development Control and Regulation Committee at County Offices, Kendal
Anyone wishing to comment can write to Rachel Brophy, Senior Planning Officer firstname.lastname@example.org and ask that your letter is sent to all members of the Development Control and Regulation Committee.
Or write to all members of the Development Control and Regulation Committee – their contact details can be found here
WRITE, PHONE, EMAIL, MAKE A BIG NOISE
Greenpeace activists deliver sacks of coal bearing the message Coal kills to the European Commissions offices in Athens. The European Commission is pressing for the liberalization of the Greek power sector, which is currently dominated by the state owned Public Power Corporations lignite monopoly. One of the Commissions initial proposals was to hand over unexploited lignite mines to private investors, thus increasing the share of lignite in the energy mix. Greenpeace urges the Commission to push for liberalization through the decrease of lignite and the rapid uptake of renewables energy investments.
We have just heard that the planning meeting for the first deep coal mine in the UK that was due to be heard on August 23rd in Kendal has been delayed yet again.
We have lost count of the deferments – it must be some kind of record. We have to ask why hasn’t this dangerous mad bad plan been knocked on the head already? Is it to embed West Cumbria Mining into Cumbrian society with its largesse and promises of jobs? It it to soften West Cumbria up for deep mining of an altogether different plan, concerning nuclear wastes? That may be way off course but it is a thought that has crossed many a Cumbrian mind.
So the new date – as far as we know is the autumn.
We shall continue to fight this plan and welcome all hands to the deck until the plan for the first deep coal mine in the UK in 30 years is stopped once and for all.
I have sent a letter to the Irish Government congratulating them on backing the Bill and asking them to keep the Irish Sea safe from the plan for a coal mine deep underneath the fragile and complex Irish Sea bed.
Please do send them your own letter of congratulations and request that the Irish Parliament do all they can to stop this crazy plan for a coal mine under the Irish Sea.
email the Irish Parliament at email@example.com
Dear Houses of the Oireachtas
Planning Application 4/17/9007 –
First Deep Coal Mine in 30 Years and it is under the Irish Sea!
Thank you so much for backing the Fossil Fuel Divestment Bill brought by Irish Parliamentarian Thomas Pringle. For Ireland to be the world’s first country ever to divest public money from fossil fuel is truly a great achievement and something wonderful to celebrate.
It is therefore a terrible irony that in the same summer that Ireland pledges to divest from Fossil Fuel , the Irish Sea is being primed to become host to the first new deep coal mine (Woodhouse Mine) in the UK for 30 years. The plan is due to be heard by Cumbria County Council on August 23rd 2018.
There are many reasons to oppose this deep coking coal mine under the Irish Sea off St Bees on the Cumbrian Coast.
The developers, West Cumbria Mining, 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 steel making coal from the USA. However the fact that the plan is to export most of the coal produced makes a nonsense of this claim. 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 is staggering. At a production rate of 2.8Mt/year the produced coal would generate 1.24Mt CO2. This is an Alice in Wonderland plan in many ways as there is rapid innovation in steel making processes to eliminate the fossil fuel component of steel, making coking coal redundant.
Proximity to Sellafield
At just 8km away from Sellafield (even nearer to the proposed new nuclear reactors at ‘Moorside’) 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.”
Sea Bed Subsidence and Resuspension of Radioactive Wastes from the Irish Sea Bed
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.”
Local campaigners Radiation Free Lakeland have recently sampled the beaches near Sellafield (Sellafield stops monitoring and retrieval of radioactive particles over the summer in order not to frighten beach users). A full one third of all random samples were found to contain cesium and americium in levels above that safe for human health. Any increase in radioactive particles being resuspended and brought back on the waves of the Irish Sea to Cumbrian and Irish shorelines is to be avoided.
I am writing to thank you on behalf of Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole for divesting from fossil fuels.
It is a Big ask but I would like to ask that you protect the Irish Sea (and so much more) by opposing the Irish Sea deep coal mine on behalf of Ireland.
We now have over 1000 signatures on this petition and it would be fantastic to raise the roof on this before we hand the petition in with a letter to the Health and Safety Executive.
The letter will outline all the reasons why there should be a halt to the extraction of fossil fuel near nuclear installations such as Springfields in Preston which is near to the PNR frack site.
The plan for the first deep coal mine in the UK in 30 years would be just five miles from Sellafield.
This is madness and will impact on future generations as well as ours.
We have written to the HSE before but so far their response has been to ignore the letters. With your help and even more signatures on the petition we can make sure that our voice is heard, listened to and acted on!
The petition will be handed over in person to the HSE head office on the 19th February so please share, share, share the petition ahead of this date.
*Given the vast uncertainty regarding the classification of nuclear materials at both Sellafield and Springfields (Springfields is the UKs nuclear fuel manufacturer at Preston) at the very least there should be a moratorium on fossil fuel extraction near nuclear sites. nuclear and fossil fuel Map We call for a comprehensive inquiry, which includes the worst-case scenarios that could result from induced seismic activity near nuclear installations. The inquiry should be undertaken honestly and transparently and be fully independent of current government policy*.
A BIG THANK YOU to all (including the swans) who came along today to Bowness to meet and shout out a big NO to Coal. A big thank you also to the few media outlets who have broken the silence on this. We are still waiting to see some Grrr or at least some critical thinking from national media who have so far given West Cumbria Mining and their financial backers a free and very respectful ride.
Colourful Banners carried messages including “Stop Coal, Keep it in the Hole…too Near Sellafield” “Coal Chokes, Nukes Annihilate, Stop the Mine.” Campaigners from West Cumbria, South Lakeland CND and Anti Fracking campaigners from Lancaster and Preston also joined the protest.
The more people know about it the more deeply angry they are at the thought of deep coal mining in such close proximity to Sellafield. We spoke to a miner from Yorkshire who stopped to sign the petition saying the plan is absolutely the most dangerous thing he has heard of.
Planning permission might be granted on the 1st November by Cumbria County Councillors in Kendal, setting wheels in motion for the new “Woodhouse Colliery” coal mine to begin operating in 2019.
The developers, West Cumbria Mining have confirmed that the coal drifts would extend to within 8km of the Sellafield ponds containing high level nuclear wastes. In 2014 photos of the crumbling and dilapidated nuclear waste storage ponds and infrastructure at Sellafield were leaked to Radiation Free Lakeland.
The Environment Agency: “Our position is to object to the proposed development on the grounds of the adverse impact on groundwater, surface water and biodiversity.”
Friends of the Earth: “It is clear that this is a very large mine, with a very long life span…of 20-50 years and a peak of 2.8 million tonnes a year. Assuming a 40 year life (following construction), and an average of 2 million tonnes a year, that is a total production of 80 million tonnes, which will emit around 175 million tonnes of carbon dioxide. The level of emissions and proposed life-time of the mine is of major concern….We would also query whether or not there has been robust enough analysis of the potential for seismicity (and subsidence) relating to well-known nuclear facilities in the wider area, including Sellafield and proposed new facility at Moorside? What potential is there for seismicity to effect these and other facilities (including the low level waste repository at Drigg) and the possible high level waste radioactive waste facility which has been proposed in West Cumbria for some time.”
Coal Action Network “The application should be rejected because it is not in the national interest. From reviewing the documents submitted by West Cumbria Mining it is clear that the intention is to export the coal to Europe and Asia…The application to mine is too close to the Sellafield nuclear site and the proposal for another nuclear power station at Moorside. Underground mining can have a significant impact on the surrounding areas, recently a coking coal mine in Russia triggered an earthquake.”
Colourful Coast Partnership: “The impact of any level of subsidence upon the terrestrial or marine heritage assets and designated sites and landscapes could be significant and permanent, therefore having a detrimental impact ..The history of contamination of watercourses in the areas raises concerns for some local residents in relation to the impact of the development on the complex hydrology of the area.”
Natural England: “ The application site is in proximity (Solway Firth 1.5km) to a European designated site (also commonly referred to as Natura 2000 sites), and therefore has the potential to affect its interest features.”
National Trust: “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.”
Jonathon Porritt; “I’m writing to express my intense opposition …WCM has argued that the metallurgical coal (which will be exported for use primarily for use in the steel industry internationally) should somehow be exempted from this gathering campaign to stop all new developments in coal and other hydrocarbons. That is illogical, not least because the 350,000 tonnes of middlings coal will be used in power stations (not in steel production), as may an unknown percentage of the 2.43 million tonnes of metallurgical coal if it fails to compete in today’s shrinking, highly volatile coking coal market.”
NOTE: local campaigners, Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole will be at the planning meeting at Kendal County Offices on 1st November at 10am to object to this plan , they encourage others to join them in objecting. https://keepcumbriancoalinthehole.wordpress.com/
West Cumbria Mining say “ locals still remember with pride their role in providing valued resources to the rest of the UK and it is this feeling that West Cumbria Mining hopes to bring back to the area through the opening of the new mine”.
Is Cumbria in a time warp where mining and exporting coal is a good thing? The good old days of coal mining should be forfeit here in Cumbria where the mine’s close proximity to an expanding Sellafield site could send us into a future with no future. WCM have confirmed that the coal drifts would extend to within 8km of the crumbling Sellafield ponds containing high level nuclear wastes. This is recklessly putting the public at risk and not just Cumbrians. Lets do the time warp again with radioactive brass knobs on? No thanks!
Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole will be at the planning meeting at Kendal County Offices (was to be 20th Sept) now scheduled for 1st Nov at 10am to object to this plan We encourage others to join us in objecting.
MANY THANKS to everyone who has written to oppose the coal mine. We now have a period of time to build a campaign against this plan “The earliest Committee the application could be presented to is the 20 September 2017. Representations received after the report has been finalised (usually 10 days before the Committee meeting) will be verbally reported to the Committee on the day of the meeting.”
People and groups can write to Cumbria County Council to ask to speak against the plan and the more who do this the better chance we have of stopping the first coal mine in the UK in 30 years!
Correspondence below with Cumbria County Council from Keep Cumbria Coal in the Hole
Dear Ms Birkby
Acknowledgement of Representation on Planning Application Ref. 4/17/9007
Location: Pow Beck Valley and area from Marchon Site to St Bees Coast, Cumbria
Proposal: Development of an existing surface mine entrance for a new underground metallurgical coal mine and associated surface development including: coal storage and processing buildings; access road; security fencing; lighting; outfall to sea; surface water management system; landscaping; at the former Marchon site (High Road) Whitehaven; interconnecting underground coal conveyor to a new coal loading and railway siding to the Cumbria Coast Railway Line, with adjoining office/welfare facilities; extension of railway under pass; security fencing; lighting; landscaping; construction of a temporary development compound and associated permanent service access off Mirehouse Road, Pow Beck valley south of Whitehaven.
Thank you for your representation with regard to the above planning application. Your views will be carefully considered and a summary of them will be included in my report to the Development Control and Regulation Committee which will determine the application. You will be able to view my report on the County Council’s web pages at the time. The earliest Committee the application could be presented to is the 20 September 2017. Representations received after the report has been finalised (usually 10 days before the Committee meeting) will be verbally reported to the Committee on the day of the meeting.
All representations are made available for inspection, including by the applicant.
From: marianne Birkby Sent: 02 July 2017 15:24 To: Young, Stewart F Cc: Harrison, Nicola J; Perigo, Stuart Subject: KEEP CUMBRIAN COAL IN THE HOLE Planning Reference NO 4/17/9007
by email and sent by letter
KEEP CUMBRIAN COAL IN THE HOLE
Planning Reference NO 4/17/9007
Dear Councillor Young,
I am writing to you on behalf of Radiation Free Lakeland to vehemently oppose the plan for the underground and undersea coking coalmine near Whitehaven.
We agree with Coal Action Network (1) who have written to you saying:
“Given that the UK steel industry imported 4.75 million tonnes of coking coal in 2015, mainly from the USA (44%) and Russia (27%) it seems perverse to be exporting coal to other countries, while importing it for UK steelworks (2). Exporting coal increases greenhouse gas emissions and producing more coal could displace lower quality coking coal to power station usage adding to greenhouse gas emissions and air quality issues. The UK government intends on phasing-out coal by 2025, but the whole world needs to stop burning this most polluting of all fossil fuels now (3).
“The application to mine is too close to the Sellafield nuclear site and the proposal for another nuclear power station at Moorside (4). Underground mining can have a significant impact on the surrounding areas, recently a coking coal mine in Russia triggered an earthquake. In addition to being dangerous for mining personnel this could cause a nuclear catastrophe (5).”
We also agree with the former director of Friends of the Earth, Jonathon Porritt who has publicly blasted the plan saying (6):
“As I understand it, the sole justification from a sustainability point of view is that the extracted coal will be coking coal, not thermal coal (for use in power stations), with some preposterous notion that this will apparently produce a lower carbon footprint than coking coal imported from other countries. Yet so far as I can tell, no detailed lifecycle analysis, both direct and indirect, has been done by West Cumbria Mining, so why would anyone swallow that particular pile of coking crap? In cases like this, I often think I must be going mad, and that may well be true. There’s a lot of it around these days. But in this instance, my mind keeps turning to a potential spoof-tweet from the Donald: “I am a big fan of coal and a big fan of nuclear. Putting the two of them together sounds GREAT!”
“Greenpeace would be opposed to a new coal mine for the same reason we’re opposed to fracking. We already know that there is too much fossil fuel available than we can afford to burn Therefore we should not be seeking out more. Materials science analysis shows significant emissions from the process where coke is used. Steel is max 2% carbon. That would make any feasible market very small for coking coal if it only got incorporated into the final steel. It’s true there is a need for a source of carbon in making steel and coke is currently the best source. But that’s different from saying there are no other sources of coke available and that we need new mines.”
LACK OF SCRUTINY?
The Chief Executive Officer Mark KirkBride insisted when questioned at the June 25th “drop in day” that there will be no induced Seismic activity from the coal mining and that the close proximity of the proposed drifts (8km) to Sellafield is not a problem (but refused to be videoed or recorded saying that).
The CEO also stated that there is no requirement in this planning application for any mention of Seismic activity but also that they have sent in documentation to the Office for Nuclear Regulation “for approval. ” I asked if we could have sight of that documentation to inform our response to CCC but no apparently we cannot have sight of that either (9)
Incredibly the lifecycle carbon footprint is not yet available for public to view and from what the CEO said it is pretty meaningless anyway as it stops short of the coking process, the carbon footprint of which is “the responsibility of the steel producers.” Not all the coal mined will be for “coking’ (metallurgical). according to the company’s own Environmental Statement
“At full annual production the mine will extract:
2.43 million tonnes of metallurgical coal;
350,000 tonnes of lower grade ‘middlings’ coal; and
150,000 tonnes of rock overburden
Metallurgical and middlings coal will go to the port of Redcar for export to European steel and industrial plants.”
This is planned to continue for 50 years accessing new coal drifts using the old sulphur (anhydrite) mine entrance at St Bees
80% of the coal to be mined is for export.
The CEO says the sparks we can see clearly on their own video of “modern mining methods” will not cause explosion or fire (despite the Whitehaven mining area being notorious for methane)
ON the 25th June we leafleted in Whitehaven. From what West Cumbrian Mining has been saying we should have been pelted out of town with rotten eggs. It is clear that WCM’s claim that over 97% of people locally are in favour is wildly optimistic, certainly we spoke to a lot of people who are at least dubious about it despite the persuasive “green” credentials plus the incessant promises of jobs and good times ahead.
DIVERSIFICATION AWAY FROM NUCLEAR?
Diversification away from the stranglehold of the nuclear industry has been used as a reason to support the return to coal mining in West Cumbria. The existence of Sellafield should however make mining in its vicinity forfeit. There should be no turning back of the clock to deep coal mining with its risk of induced seismic activity now that Sellafield’s already intolerable risks have to be managed. There are other safer, healthier and more stable industries than coal mining. from renewables to sport and tourism which should be embraced in West Cumbria. For example:
Many have said they would have much preferred the jobs offered by the (deliberately?) scuppered plan for the Pow Beck Valley Sports Village. Pow Beck is now earmarked on West Cumbria Mining’s plan to host a new underground coal conveyer belt from the coal drifts off St Bees to the Railway (10). This area is also earmarked as workers housing for the proposed Moorside plan (11). We note (along with others) that one of the Corporate Directors of Copeland Council who was in charge of (scuppering?) this multi million sports village plan is now working for NuGen (12).
In Conclusion we vehemently oppose this plan for the following reasons (there are many more)
If planning permission is granted this vast new coal mine “Woodhouse Colliery would be the first new deep coal mine in the UK for more than 30 years.” This would fly in the face of every climate agreement that Cumbria County Council has signed up to.
WCM have not yet produced a carbon footprint and will not be including the emissions from the coking process “that is up to the steel industry.” Much of the coal mined from WCM will be “middlings” coal not suitable for coking (WCM Non Technical EA page 5).
It is too near Sellafield, off St Bees, just 8km away from Sellafield (even nearer to Moorside) according to West Cumbria Mining
Coking coal mines worldwide have caused induced seismic activity
The coking coal market is volatile with China closing plants because of “overcapacity” (14).
West Cumbria Mining state there “would be no significant environmental impacts” the opposite is true – the environmental, economic and health impacts of coal are very well documented (13) and these impacts are significant. Returning to coal mining in this area would add to the cumulative toxic burden in an area where “Nearly half of adult residents reported their health as ‘not good” (15).