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

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

 

BRIEFING NOTE FROM RADIATION FREE LAKELAND

WEST CUMBRIA MINING PROPOSAL Ref No: 4/17/9007

 Part 1

  • Wildlife
  • Health
  • Seismic Activity and Sellafield

Part 2

  • Climate
  • Planning
  • Employment

 Part 1

 WILDLIFE

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

  • HEALTH

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. https://www.food.gov.uk/sites/default/files/report2016_0.pdf

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

  • SEISMIC ACTIVITY AND 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.   http://theseacannotbedepleted.net/

PART 2

CLIMATE and PLANNING

 

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.

 

EMPLOYMENT

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

https://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/01/070103-mine-quake_2.html

 

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

https://keepcumbriancoalinthehole.wordpress.com/2018/02/26/fisheries-and-conservation-authority-concerns-irish-sea-subsidence-and-resuspension-of-radionuclides/

 

Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the Steel Industry

https://link.springer.com/article/10.3103/S0967091215090107

 

World Steel Figures in 2017

https://www.worldsteel.org/media-centre/press-releases/2017/world-steel-in-figures-2017.html

 

Sweden aims for first place in carbon free steel race

https://www.thefifthestate.com.au/innovation/building-construction/sweden-aims-for-first-place-in-carbon-free-steel-race

 

Beginners Guide to Fossil Fuel Divestment

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jun/23/a-beginners-guide-to-fossil-fuel-divestment

 

Progressive Economics for people and place

https://cles.org.uk

 

The Preston Model

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jan/31/preston-hit-rock-bottom-took-back-control

Planning Meeting Cancelled Again! New Date 30th May

Dear Friends,

Just recieved word that the Planning Meeting has been cancelled again.  The new date is the 30th May.  Letter of notification from Cumbria County Council below…The more people and groups that register to speak at this meeting the better chance we have of stopping the plan!

“Planning Application 4/17/9007 – Woodhouse Quarry

I am writing to let you know that the West Cumbria Mining Application for Woodhouse Quarry has now been deferred from the 18 April meeting.  The aim is for it now to be considered at the DCR meeting on 30 May.  Apologies for any inconvenience this may cause you.

There is no need for you to register your request to speak at the 30 May committee again, as you have already indicated your intent for the earlier meeting.  However, please note that the deadline for your written information to be submitted to me will now be 23 May 2018.

Many thanks

Jackie Currie

Senior Democratic Services Officer

Legal & Democratic Services

Cumbria County Council| Cumbria House

Botchergate|Carlisle|Cumbria CA1 1RD

Tel: 01228 221030 Mobile 0788 1250007

Email jackie.currie@cumbria.gov.uk    “

 

Easter Greetings!

Black Guillemot – St Bees is the last nesting place in England!

Dear Friends,

Easter Greetings!  Many thanks to all who have been sharing, talking and campaigning to stop the first deep coal mine in the UK for 30 years.

The planning decision date has been cancelled 3 times now. The new date for the planning meeting in Kendal is 18th April.

We continue to campaign against this plan with letters to press and actions on the streets.

Opposition letters continue to be sent to Cumbria County Council including from Scientists for Global Responsibility who have said: ”

  • ..combustion of the coal from this mine will lead to emissions of about 8.3 million tonnes of CO2 each year during the main production phase. This is about the same as the annual emissions of about 900,000 British citizens. However, because it is planned to export much of the coal, these emissions will appear in the ‘environmental accounts’ of other countries, not the UK – although the UK would arguably bear ethical responsibility.
  • Coal mines emit significant levels of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas which further exacerbates climate change. This coal mine will be no different. Such emissions are hard to control. And, of course, there will be additional carbon emissions from the fossil fuels used to produce energy for the mining process itself. Again using figures from Defra, I estimate that this will add approximately 1.2 million tonnes to the figure above, making a total of 9.5 million tonnes of CO2 each year – equivalent to over 1,000,000 UK citizens….”

Please do join Scientists for Global Responsibility and write a few lines (or more!!) opposing this plan to the Development Control Committee via DC Officer Rachel Brophy   quoting:  Planning Application 4/17/9007: Woodhouse Colliery

email: Rachel.Brophy@cumbria.gov.uk

Many thanks

Marianne

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole

GOOD NEWS!!

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!

Excellent Objection – Please Feel Free to Use in your own Letters to Cumbria County Council

 

Men_of_the_Mine-_Life_at_the_Coal_Face,_Britain,_1942_D8263.jpg

There is Nostalgia for the good old days of Coking Coal in West Cumbria

The Following is an excellent objection to the coal mine plan.  Please feel free to use this for ideas or as a starting point for your own research and letter to Cumbria County Council.

NOTE the date of the planning meeting has now been deferred again (this is the fourth date!) until the middle of April.  This gives us more time to build up a momentum against this diabolic plan to mine for coal under the Irish Sea.

Email:   Rachel.Brophy@cumbria.gov.uk

To Rachel Brophy, Development Control Team, Cumbria County Council

Feb 6th 2018

Woodhouse Colliery, Application Number 4/17/9007

West Cumbria Mining [WCM]

I am writing with particular concerns about the economic sustainability and the employment claims in the application.   I wish to object to the application.

The general NPPF guidance regarding coal extraction is very clear

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 many consultation responses received from statutory bodies make it abundantly clear that the proposal is not environmentally acceptable on a very broad range of issues. This is well documented.   WCM have been requested on two occasions via regulation 22 to provide additional information on environmental aspects of the proposal. It is now becoming obvious to all that the application is not and cannot be environmentally acceptable.

There are no planning conditions or obligations which can alter the basic fact that the carbon in the coal would end up almost entirely in CO2, whether it is burned or used in steel making and therefore fails all criteria for low carbon, sustainable development. [1]

The WCM application claims that it provides local community benefits by way of creating employment. As these claims relate to the creation, or otherwise, of a sustainable economy – they form a material consideration. These employment claims need to be challenged.

Economic challenges to jobs/community benefit

 The production of coal for the European steel market can only be as viable as that market itself.   The international steel market has been notoriously unstable in recent years. China, India and Korea are emerging as major steel producers – there have been dramatic declines in European steel production. Steel plants have been closed. There is reducing production globally. In 2016 European production declined to 10% of global production. Competition is fierce with new markets emerging. [2]

The production of steel is closely tied to the automobile and construction industries. With financial difficulties, austerity and cautious consumer spending the future of steel production in Europe is in a precarious place.

However much coal WCM may wish to produce the global market situation means there can be no guarantee of ready customers.

October 2017 article from the Financial Times – ‘Our current [global] overcapacity issue is bad,” said John Ferriola, chief executive of US group Nucor, speaking at the World Steel Association’s annual general meeting in Brussels earlier this month. “[It] results in a high level of exports that in some cases are illegally subsidised and dumped in other nations.” The problem of overcapacity has dogged the industry for years. When mills are underused, they use raw materials less efficiently and producers are forced to reduce prices in the scramble to win orders and cover their high fixed operating costs. But there is a new political urgency, with accusations of unfair trading practices that have caused protectionist measures in number of countries. A steep rise in exports, especially from China, contributed to a collapse in the price of steel two years ago. That hit earnings hard at companies such as ArcelorMittal, South Korea’s Posco and US Steel, triggering major job losses and raising questions about the industry’s future in some developed countries.’ [3]

There are also the implications of Brexit and the uncertainties about whether the UK will remain in the European Single Market.

Carbon challenges to jobs/community benefit

 Building on the commitments of the Paris Agreement all signatory nations are now moving into ever tighter carbon budgets with increasing regulatory measures. There is a race on to develop processes of steel making which do not involve the burning of fossil fuels. Sweden seems to be at the forefront [4]. It is also likely that recycling will play a greater part in the steel industry.

Investment challenges to jobs/community benefits

While the application is in the name of West Cumbria Mining it appears that the proposal is backed by EMR Capital.[5] who describe themselves as follows – ‘We are a specialist resources private equity manager whose team has a proven track record in the three dimensions critical to achieving superior returns’

EMR Capital has offices in Melbourne, Sydney, Cayman Island and networks across the globe. They specialise in –

  1. Successful development, over 30 years, of resources projects and companies across a wide range of commodities and countries, advancing early stage projects through the development stages into high quality producing mines;
  2. Achievement of superior investment returns in the resources sector; and
  3. Building successful partnerships, joint ventures and linkages in Asia, emerging markets and new frontiers for resources, with investors, resources companies, commodity end users and government in those markets, who are the key drivers of global commodity markets and prices, and key buyers of resource assets.

Companies House lists 12 Directors for WCM five of whom live in Australia, one in France and one in Scotland. The registered address is in Surrey.

It would seem that despite the local sounding name of ‘West Cumbria Mining’ this application represents a speculation of global capital. The investors and recipients of any profit from the mine are likely to be in Asia or Australia.

Despite the interest of EMR Capital however – there is a powerful global movement of divestment from fossil fuel industries and any such investment will become increasingly risky.

From a June 2015 article in the Guardian – ‘ . . . . the UN has lent its “moral authority” to the divestment campaign, while Desmond Tutu has said that “people of conscience need to break their ties with corporations financing the injustice of climate change. Second is the financial argument, which rests on the premise that if international agreements on climate change are met, the investments will become worthless. The theory that these “stranded assets” are creating a trillion dollar “carbon bubble” that could plunge the world into another economic crisis is now the subject of an investigation by the Bank of England, after Governor Mark Carney said publicly that “the vast majority of reserves are unburnable.   The World Bank has come out in support of the financial argument for divestment, with president Jim Yong Kim stating that: “every company, investor and bank that screens new and existing investments for climate risk is simply being pragmatic.’ [6]

Safety challenges to jobs/community benefits

 We know that the coal mining industry has a long and sad history of fatalities.   Some miners still remain where they died under the sea off Whitehaven. Any accident at the mine reaching out 5 miles under the sea would have serious consequences for continuing production/jobs as well as for the bereaved and injured themselves.

Additionally – any minor induced seismicity or earth tremor that affected the Sellafield location would have catastrophic consequences in the potential release of radioactivity and would undoubtedly need to result in the immediate closure of the mine.

The nature of potential earth tremors is in that very potential. They are unknown. An application, such as this, which increases the possibility and potential of induced seismicity/earth tremors is simply too dangerous to be approved.

It is of critical importance that the Coal Authority has formally objected to the application on safety grounds

Conclusion

The application from WCM assumes employment prospects/community benefits based on a steady demand for the coal produced. This is clearly a nonsense given the instabilities of the global steel and investment markets; coal phase – out; the increasing regulatory controls on the burning of fossil fuels and the many safety threats at the mine including methane, subsidence and seismicity.

There can be no guarantee whatever of the employment WCM may prove able to provide.   There are simply too many complex global factors which are outwith the control of the company.

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.’

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.

The people of West Cumbria do most certainly need greater employment opportunities – these need to be sustainable in all senses – both economically and in terms of low carbon. This is a very real challenge to create future sustainable employment that creates decent local jobs and honours both the people and the landscapes of West Cumbria.

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.’ [7] [8]

It could perhaps be said of the WCM proposal that it was a well-intentioned attempt to bring employment to the area. It could equally be said that it was an unrealistic bubble from the start – despite the detailed information on proposed shift patterns for miners.

Despite being on the far west seaward side of Europe – West Cumbria cannot extract itself from global market, investment and environmental realities. Cumbrians deserve decent, local, stable, sustainable jobs.

Sam Moisha

Member of Radiation Free Lakeland

 

 

 

 

 

 

URGENT – KEEP CUMBRIAN COAL IN THE HOLE

An Urgent Request from Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole

– Please Send Objections into Cumbria County Council to Make Sure we STOP the First Deep Coal Mine in the UK for 30 years. Below is an objection from Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole.   Please feel free to amend, adapt or just generally use as a starting point for your own objection. It doesn’t need to be long – just a sentence or two would do to let Cumbria County Council know that you oppose the plan.  Every letter of objection is a step nearer to stopping the plan!

Send Emails to

Rachel.Brophy@cumbria.gov.uk   in the Subject put : Wood House Colliery 4/17/9007

If you have time please do also tell the Development Control Committee how you feel too! They will be making the decision on March 7th in Kendal  http://councilportal.cumbria.gov.uk/mgCommitteeDetails.aspx?ID=124

Letters to be in before 19th February to stand a good chance of being included in the report to Council – but you can object up until the planning meeting on the 7th March

 

To Rachel Brophy,

Development Control Team, Cumbria County Council

Woodhouse Colliery, Application Number 4/17/9007

West Cumbria Mining [WCM]

KEEP CUMBRIAN COAL IN THE HOLE

On July 2nd 2017 Radiation Free Lakeland wrote to the Leader of Cumbria County Council to vehemently oppose the plan for the first deep coal mine in the UK in 30 years.

I am writing again on behalf of Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole which is a Radiation Free Lakeland campaign, to add further comments, and also ask to be allowed to speak on behalf of Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole.

Reasons to Refuse this application include:

  • Proximity to Sellafield
  • Hydrology Impact
  • Wildlife Impact
  • Seabed Subsidence
  • Methane Emissions
  • Carbon Emissions
  • Health Impacts

PROXIMITY TO SELLAFIELD

SellafieldPondajpg.jpg

The B30 pond showing a full loading of spent fuel rods

A recent article in The Ecologist magazine highlighted the proposed mine’s close proximity to this dangerous stockpile of plutonium:

“The potential for earth tremors and quakes resulting from mining is well known. Even if the tremors were small that is too big a risk to take in the vicinity of Sellafield.”  High intensity and liquefaction phenomena like that experienced at Christchurch in New Zealand are usually associated only with relatively large magnitude earthquakes. An earthquake in 1865 in the northwest of England (Rampside) suggests that a sufficiently shallow small event can also produce liquefaction. 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 would negate Cumbria County Council’s strategic objective of avoiding adverse impacts from developments (Objective 2, Cumbria Minerals and Waste Local Plan 2.27)

HYDROLOGY

the-beautiful-river-ehen-about-to-be-nuclearised.jpg

The River Ehen runs alongside the Irish Sea

West Cumbria’s domestic fresh water supplies are already stressed with the halting of abstraction from Ennerdale to protect the river Ehen (Sellafield will continue to abstract from the Ehen for cooling and processes).

People in West Cumbria have experienced problems with borehole water being added to their supply. The vast discharge of water required to dewater the old existing and newly opened mines would inevitably impact on West Cumbria’s fresh water supply.   “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.” Colourful Coast Partnership. This flies in the face of NPPF and Cumbria County Council’s own Minerals and Waste Plan to have regard for provide for public health (2.25).

WILDLIFE IMPACT

RSPB - St Bees Black guillemot.jpg

“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.” National Trust

“ 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.”Natural England

“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.” Colourful Coast Partnership

Our position is to object to the proposed development on the grounds of the adverse impact on groundwater, surface water and biodiversity.”Environment Agency

St Bees “supports England’s only breeding black guillemot – which are small in number and already vulnerable to stochastic events.” “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.”   RSPB

It is clear from objections by the Colourful Coast Partnership and those quoted above (this is just a selection, there are many more) that Biodiversity would be adversely impacted on by this development. This runs counter to NPPF policies and Cumbria County Councils own Minerals and Waste Local Plan (2.25)

SEABED SUBSIDENCE

As previously noted seabed subsidence is an issue that would have environmental consequences anywhere. Close to Sellafield the environmental consequences of seabed subsidence have far wider implications. This includes the possible resuspension of many decades worth of radionuclides that are currently on the Irish Sea bed as a result of Sellafield reprocessing. Long-lived radionuclides (like plutonium or americium 241 nuclides) are still accumulating in the mud at the bottom’ of the Irish Sea. Events like storm surges or seabed subsidence churn this up. Resuspended particles make their way to the beaches of Cumbria and beyond. This is intolerable and is already an issue for beaches in West Cumbria with radioactive particles being routinely found by the industry’s own beach monitoring system (which stops in the school holidays).

ArgocatFinds.jpg

Monitoring West Cumbrian beaches for radioactive particles – thousands are found and ‘retrieved’…

Knowingly creating the conditions for seabed subsidence from undersea coal mining runs counter to Cumbria County Council’s own policy of “risk reduction” regarding radioactive wastes.   The Irish Sea Bed should be treated with care as it acts as a saucer like container for the many decades worth of radioactive wastes which are best left undisturbed.

METHANE EMISSIONS

The fossil fuel industry’s methane emissions are far higher than previously thought. The famous landmark “candlestick” in Whitehaven is an air vent for the “most fiery pit in the kingdom.”   “Fiery” because this area is methane rich. Last year the applicants West Cumbria Mining accidently hit a methane seam off St Bees and just five miles from Sellafield while carrying out exploratory drilling. “Local authorities, fire rescue, police and the Environment Agency were all informed.”  An explosion was averted this time. Cumbria County Council have a duty of care to make sure there is no next time.

WCM drilling rig off Fleswick bay.jpg

WCM Drilling Rig off Fleswick Bay

CARBON EMISSIONS

Cumbria County Council are the custodians of hundreds of millions of tonnes of CO2 currently safety bound up in this coal under the Irish Sea. The developers are pushing the “need” to mine this coal for steel making. Why? There is a race on to develop ever more processes of steel making which do not involve the burning of fossil fuels. Sweden seems to be at the forefront

Worldwide the steel industry is well aware of the need to rapidly decarbonise. This is already happening with ever more steel recycling. For new steel production there are ultra-low carbon methods of steelmaking in development and soon to be deployed whether this is based on biomass, hydrogen or electrolysis.

This is happening now with some of the world’s largest iron ore producers (Brazil, China) also having the greatest potential for and commitment to renewable energy. There is no case for opening a new coal mine in Cumbria.   Cumbria County Council will have a case to answer should they facilitate the opening of this the first deep coal mine in the UK for 30 years.

Sellafield from St Bees - a stones throw!.jpg

Sellafield viewed from St Bees…a stones throw!

 

HEALTH

The old Marchon Chemical plant and Anhydrite mine that fed it feature in the WCM application. We note that the anhydrite mine would need to be dewatered. This would be reckless given that previous operations are still having a “significant” impact. “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.(  https://www.food.gov.uk/sites/default/files/report2016_0.pdf )

This direct assault on health is additional to well documented climate change health impacts and the intolerable danger that this mine would represent to the safe stewardship of Sellafield

We urge Cumbria County Council to turn down this application, which presents a danger to us all on many different levels.

 

Yours sincerely,

Marianne Birkby

On behalf of Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole

A Radiation Free Lakeland campaign

https://keepcumbriancoalinthehole.wordpress.com/

 

 

PETITION to Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole

https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/keep-cumbrian-coal-in-the-hole-its-too-near-sellafield

 

 

The Ecologist Exposes the Cumbrian Coal Mine Plan

Excellent article in the Ecologist by Sam Moisha…

An Extract Below.  Full Article can be read here

A new deep coal mine deep under the sea? Next to Sellafield? Really?

Sam Moisha

| 5th February 2018

Architect's drawing of proposed new mine

An architect’s drawing of the proposed new Woodhouse Colliery deep mine at the former Marchon Industrial site near Woodhouse.

West Cumbria Mining
The first deep coal mine in Britain for thirty years is being proposed at Whitehaven, with the promise of new jobs in an old mining community. But the site is within five miles of Sellafield. Activists are concerned both about the definite contribution to climate change, as well as the potential threat of a nuclear accident. SAM MOISHA sets out their concerns

The potential for earth tremors and quakes resulting from mining is well known.  The potential for man-made tremors at the Sellafield site is too awful to contemplate.

The first deep coal mine in Britain for 30 years is being proposed in a planning application due to be heard in Kendal on 7 March 2018.  Woodhouse Colliery is proposed for Whitehaven, which is a former mining community with a lot of identity and even nostalgia caught up in the industry. It is also an area with a desperate shortage of jobs.

Mark Kirkbride and West Cumbria Mining [WCM] have applied for consent to build a ‘state of the art’ mine extending under the Irish Sea to extract coking coal for export to the steel industry.  The coal would be taken by train to Redcar for shipping.

Disused anhydrite mine drift tunnels would be reopened to access the coal and the surface buildings would be on a disused ex industrial site known as the Chemical Factory. The old Marchon Chemical works  produced products from Anhydrite. These included detergents and sulphuric acid.

Employment prospects

WCM put the output of coal at 3.2 million tonnes per annum.  The coal is planned mostly for export to the steel making industry in Europe where the resulting carbon emissions will run directly counter to the Paris agreement on climate change. 

The digging up and burning of such quantities of fossil fuel is clearly completely out of kilter with both UK and international policy.

Cumbria has seen it’s share of extreme climate events in recent years, in particular the severe flooding of Storm Desmond. Allowing Woodhouse Colliery to go ahead would be ensuring that Cumbrian coal plays a part in increased floods, droughts, mudslides, crop failures, famine and wildfires at an international level.

The claim by WCM that they are reducing emissions by transporting the coal by train instead of road is so irrelevant as to be laughable.

WCM has widely publicised that the mine would bring 518 new jobs to Cumbria including 50 apprenticeships. Local people have been invited to ‘pre-register’ for employment prospects. It is completely understandable that some local residents support the proposed mine. Though indeed, many do not. Jobs are in very short supply in West Cumbria.

Radioactive waste

There is in Whitehaven a statue of coal miners. The inscription at the miners’ feet says “End of an Era”. In 2018 with an urgent need to cut carbon, with the UK as signatory to the Paris Agreement and bound by the national framework of the Climate Change Act committing  to an 80 percent reduction in emissions by 2050 – this plan must be a total non-starter.

It seems a cruel and ironic hoax on the people of West Cumbria who have been ruthlessly sold the nuclear golden goose  to hold out this carrot of a return to coal mining.

And it gets worse…the undersea mine would be in an area of heavily faulted geology within 5 miles of Sellafield. Sellafield is the most dangerous place in Europe, storing radioactive spent fuel rods in crumbling pools of water.

More of the Article can be read here

TAKE ACTION – NEW Leaflet to Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole

Poster small

Dear Friends,

Although this is a very big deal you would not think so from reading and listening to the mainstream media. There has been virtually no reporting in the local press and none at all in the national press on all the reasons why so many groups and organisations are opposed to the plan for the first deep coal mine in 30 years.

We are a small group with limited funds (our own pockets) and limited public outreach.  So the more that people and other groups get involved in spreading the message and shouting out about this plan and about just how mad, bad and dangerous it is, the more chance we have of stopping it in its tracks.

We have produced a new leaflet which needs distributing, we don’t have much time to spread the word before the planning meeting on March 7th 2018.    If you would like to get involved in sharing the leaflet with your family, friends and neighbours,  please contact us at coal@mariannebirkby.plus.com.

The text of the leaflet is below….

KEEP CUMBRIAN COAL IN THE HOLE (St Bees is way too near Sellafield!)

A Busy Persons Guide to Opposing the first deep Coal Mine in 30 years

TAKE ACTION

TAKE ACTION

  • If you have a minute – please share it to your friends

TAKE ACTION

  • If you have 15 minutes please write a brief letter to Cumbria County Council. Objections include Ground Water Damage, Earthquake Risk Near Sellafield Ponds of High Level Nuclear Wastes, CO2 and Methane emissions, Impacts on Marine wildlife, Subsidence of the Irish Sea Bed etc. Please Quote the planning application Reference 4/17/9007. Cumbria County Council will decide this application on 7th March, 10am in Kendal. The public consultation ends on Feb 19th. Letters can be sent to Mrs Rachel Brophy, Cumbria County Council Development Control Team County Offices, Busher Walk, Kendal, Cumbria LA9 4RQ For the attention of Mrs R Brophy (Planning Officer) 01539 713 413 or email to developmentcontrol@cumbria.gov.uk The earlier the submissions are sent the better chance they have of being included in the committee report.

TAKE ACTION

  • To register to speak for up to 5 minutes at the 7th March Planning meeting it is necessary to register as soon as possible with a written note of the points you wish to make. To register please contact – Jackie Currie, Senior Democratic Services Officer, Legal & Democratic Services, Cumbria County Council, Cumbria House, Botchergate, Carlisle, Cumbria CA1 1RD Tel: 01228 221030 Email currie@cumbria.gov.uk

TAKE ACTION

If you can come to a demo at the Council 9am on 7th March – be good to see you! More info at https://keepcumbriancoalinthehole.wordpress.com/

Leaflet KEEP CUMBRIAN COAL IN THE HOLE.jpg

New Petition to Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole

Please Sign, Share and Talk about this, Letters to the press, please help to stop this plan in whatever way you can. Incredibly this mad, bad and dangerous plan has received far less media attention and discussion than the proposed Zip wires accross Thirlmere.  Why is that?  What is Going On?

The Petition can be signed here

The Full Petition Text is below….

Please do not let Cumbria be the first place in 30 years to open a deep coal mine in the UK. The proposed undersea coal mine under the beautiful coastline at St Bees would be five miles from Sellafield and five miles from the plan for new reactors (Moorside) at Beckermet. Coal mining is known to increase seismic activity.

Why is this important?

What People are Saying:

“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.” National Trust

“ 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.”Natural England

“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.” Colourful Coast Partnership

“Our position is to object to the proposed development on the grounds of the adverse impact on groundwater, surface water and biodiversity.”Environment Agency

“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.” Friends of the Earth

“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.” Coal Action Network

Just some of the “Star Species” found in this Heritage Coast and Marine Conservation Zone are listed by the RSPB as: Fulmar, Guillemot, Herring Gull, Kittiwake, Razorbill and so many more that would be impacted on by the plan for a new coal mine with possible subsidence of the Irish Sea bed impacting on food sources such as sandeels (and not to mention disturbing and resuspending decades of Sellafield discharges which have settled there).

We ask that Cumbria County Council listen to the substantial concerns of the Coal Authority, Natural England, the National Trust, Coal Action Network, the Environment Agency, Colourful Coast Partnership, Friends of the Earth and others and turn down West Cumbria Mining’s planning application.

How it will be delivered

The petition will be delivered to the planning meeting at Cumbria County Council offices in Kendal on 7th March 2018