Many thanks to Real Media for posting a guest blog – the background story and info about the coal mine fiasco that you won’t see in the main stream media. There is an updated version below…
NIGHTMARE COAL MINE NEAR SELLAFIELD?
WHAT CAN WE DO ?
Like one of those nasty nightmares that pulls the dreamer to an inevitable conclusion it is shocking that on March 19th in Kendal, Cumbria County Council approved the plan for the first deep coal mine in the UK in decades. Nevertheless it is rather suspicious that the Committee voted unanimously to give the green light to the diabolic plan. But then, there were no background noises of dissent in the years ahead of the planning decision that might have made the Committee think twice. Quite the opposite. There was almost universal silence from the national media.
Protest staged by Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole after the Unanimous vote by the Development Control and Regulation Committee of Cumbria County Council on 19th March. Photo credit: Philip Gilligan South Lakeland CND
Silence, apart that is, from the occasional coverage which seemed to
come direct from the developer’s press releases. There were no outraged editorials or national campaigns by big NGOs. No mention from climate guru George Monbiot. This is despite the fact that the obscene coal mine plan was rumbling nightmarishly along for so many years. Only the blogosphere was raising the alarm. Including a very strong and early shout out from Jonathon Porritt.
SO DAMN NEAR SELLAFIELD
Radiation Free Lakeland are a civil society group concerned with nuclear safety. We started a dedicated campaign in 2017 to Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole because we could see that this plan was going massively under the radar and because it is so damn near Sellafield’s growing stockpiles of highly active and uniquely dangerous radioactive wastes. Our frustrations grew about the coal mine and the big silence from big hitters. As a voluntary group our public reach is small. We witnessed the aggressive PR and lobbying campaign by the developers. This lobbying by the developers included winning the hearts and minds of Green minded folk MPs and Government Departments with the hugely deceitful mantra of we ‘need a massive new coking coal mine to make the steel for wind turbines’ and presenting to the public a homey image of West Cumbria Mining despite the major shareholder being a Cayman Island fund controlled via Singapore by managers based in Australia and HongKong. For ourselves we had a premonition about the way this was going and crowdfunded to enable us to continue to fight the plan with a Judicial Review should Cumbria County Council be led down the enticing garden path to the coal mine.
At the 11th hour it was such a relief to see some big hitters publicly putting their shoulders to the wheel to stop the mine. This included Scientists for Global Responsibility whose Director Dr Stuart Parkinson spoke at the Planning Meeting saying : “I have calculated that during the main production phase the mine would lead to emissions of over 9 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent for every year it is in operation. This amount is similar to the annual emissions of over 1 million British citizens. ”
And Dr Laurie Michaelis who has “worked on climate-related issues for thirty five years, been a lead author for reports of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – the IPCC – and provided technology policy advice for the UK government, European Commission and UN climate negotiators.” Dr Michaelis went on to say that: “Speaking to you feels like possibly the single most important thing I’ll do in my life….Your officers have not obtained suitable expert advice to correct the misinformation…When coal is used to make steel, 99% of the carbon content ends up as CO2 in the atmosphere….Thousands could die early because of heatwaves, disease and other causes. You will share responsibility with WCM, steel manufacturers and final users. If you refuse, coal might be sourced elsewhere; that’s the kind of argument people often use to justify wrongdoing. You can prevent this coal from being used.”
While we have as a group been lobbying climate activists for years now to actively oppose the coal mine, we have also been campaigning on the uniquely dangerous environmental impacts of this coal mine. The close proximity to Sellafield’s stockpiles of highly active radioactive wastes could have catastrophic impacts not just for Cumbria but for the whole of Europe. The deaths resulting from a seismically induced catastrophe at Sellafield could be in the millions, not the thousands described by climate scientists as a result of climate impacts from the coal mine.
Sellafield viewed from St Bees
Despite this the Office for Nuclear Regulation has washed its hands of any responsibility and has provided the County Council with an excuse to be nonchalant about the close proximity of the mine to Sellafield . The ONR’s official remit to consult on planning applications is 7.4 km from Sellafield. The coal mine extends to 8km from Sellafield ie 600 metres difference.
It has not gone unnoticed by Radiation Free Lakeland that the coal mine plan extends to right up to the area under the Irish Sea that is has been earmarked as ‘suitable’ as a possible site
Image based on West Cumbria Mining’s own map
for the geological disposal of the decades of nuclear wastes resulting from the nuclear civil military industrial complex.
Nor has it gone unnoticed that there is a revolving door between the government body tasked with “facilitating geological disposal” and West Cumbria Mining. Mark Kirkbride West Cumbria Mining’s CEO has a portfolio which includes “deep geological disposal investigations” while Steve Reece formerly Operations Director of West Cumbria Mining is now Head of Site Evaluation at the government body Radioactive Waste Management who are tasked with ‘delivery’ of a Geological Disposal Facility for high level nuclear wastes. There may be nothing suspicious in this revolving door but we have to say that the silence over this diabolic new coal mine has been almost deliberate, almost like a Defence Advisory notice or something along similar lines has been issued on this coal mine plan. A coal mine which has, ironically the full support of the nearby nuclear industry! The Guardian’s Adam Vaughan told us in all seriousness that the paper’s editors have said they would ‘report on the plan when a decision has been made.’ That kind of Orwellian journalistic policy was guaranteed to keep the public in the dark. When the coal mine was approved what they and other media outlets did not report in their crocodile tears of mock shock and horror was that the folk who have been actively campaigning against the plan from the beginning are nuclear safety campaigners. This not been mentioned anywhere in the National press neither has the close proximity to Sellafield, with one exception – the German Newspaper, Taz.
This coal mine should have been stopped as a result of public outcry on climate grounds alone, but it wasn’t because the public have effectively been kept in the dark about it. We are wondering Why?
ACTION! ASK THE SECRETARY OF STATE TO CALL IN CRAZY COAL MINE DECISION
We have already delivered a petition of 1527 signatures to the Secretary of State James Brokenshire. We are however keeping the petition open to show the strength of feeling against the coal mine. PLEASE SIGN AND OR SEND James Brokenshire a letter urging him to call in the decision (see below).
Westmorland and Lonsdale MP, Tim Farron has written asking for the decision to be called in and he has been vehemently condemned for this by the Mayor of Copeland, Mike Starkie who was reported in the local press as saying that Farron should “Butt Out of West Cumbria” Tim Farron has pointed out that Climate impacts from the mine won’t stop at Scafell. We agree and would also point out that neither would Nuclear impacts.
We believe that the more people and groups that write and request that the Secretary of State calls in the decision made by Cumbria County Council the better as a show of force will demonstrate the strength of feeling against the mine.
The letter should be addressed to James Brokenshire MP, the Secretary of State. firstname.lastname@example.org.
Re: Application Reference No. 4/17/9007 – Former Marchon Site, Pow Beck Valley and area from Marchon Site to St Bees Coast, Whitehaven, Cumbria
Our full letter can be found here – even a paragraph would be good to send to the Secretary of State– the main point to make is that West Cumbria Mining has not given figures on CO2 Emissions. There are no independent assessments. There has been no detailed scrutiny or debate on the close proximity of deep mining to Sellafield’s high level radioactive wastes.
Founder of Radiation Free Lakeland
Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole is a RaFL campaign