“Vindication for campaigner fighting plan for deep coal mine in West Cumbria”

On Leigh Days Website

A campaigner, who issued a legal case against a proposed deep coal mine in West Cumbria on grounds that the climate change impact had not been properly taken into account, says she has been vindicated by the latest development in plans for the scheme.

20 May 2020

Earlier this year, campaigner Marianne Bennett, with support from the Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole (KCCH) group was granted permission for a judicial review of Cumbria County Council’s decision to allow the first deep coal mine in the UK for 30 years to be built by West Cumbria Mining (WCM) in Whitehaven.

However, since the ruling in February, WCM has submitted a revised planning application to only process premium metallurgical coal in a simplified, cheaper-to-construct mine proposed for the site of the former Marchon Chemical Works. The previous application would have resulted in 15 per cent of the mined produce being a type of non-metallurgical coal, known as “middlings” coal.

As a result, Cumbria County Council has now confirmed that it will no longer rely on the resolution decision being challenged in the judicial review proceedings.

However, Ms Bennett’s legal team at Leigh Day solicitors believes that WCM has submitted the revised planning application to defeat the legal challenge.

They have agreed with Cumbria County Council and WCM that the claim will be withdrawn. They will now seek costs on behalf of Ms Bennett from Cumbria County Council and WCM.

Ms Bennett said:

“We have in effect achieved what we first set out to do, which was to overturn the council’s unanimous decision to approve the coal mine.

“We will be seeking legal costs so that we can keep our fighting fund for another day. We will now be encouraging our supporters to lobby the council so they do not say yes to this revised planning application for the first deep coal mine in the UK in decades.”

Rowan Smith, of Leigh Day solicitors, said:

“We believe that this revised application by WCM is an attempt to defeat the legal challenge which would have been brought at the High Court in Manchester later this year.

“Our client will be studying the new plan carefully and considering further action because she firmly believes that the changes proposed do not resolve the climate change issue with the project and this was the principal reason she took her brave legal action at the start of this process.”

Ms Bennett is also represented by David Wolfe QC (Matrix) and Merrow Golden (Francis Taylor Buildings).

Information was correct at time of publishing. See terms and conditions for further details.

Great News! Green Light for Coal Mine is Now Amber, Thanks to You!

Whitehaven to St Bees

Image: Wild honeysuckle and Irish Sea 

There is great news!

The unanimous green light that Cumbria County Council had given the developers, West Cumbria Mining,  has now effectively turned back to amber.   Cumbria County Council has confirmed that it will no longer rely on the resolution decision that we were challenging.

This turn around would not have happened without youramazing support for the Judicial Review (which had been granted full approval to go ahead and challenge the County Council’s decision). 

West Cumbria Mining has now submitted a revised planning application to Cumbria County Council.  This revised plan seeks to answer the legal challenges which were to be brought by us in the Judicial Review.

We believe the true reason why West Cumbria Mining has submitted a revised planning application is to try to defeat our legal challenge.

For example the middlings coal will now, say West Cumbria Mining, with this new plan be magically transformed into coking coal!

Our brilliant lawyers at Leigh Day will now seek costs from Cumbria County Council and WCM, because we have in effect achieved what we set out to do, which was to overturn the council’s unanimous decision to approve the coal mine.

We are seeking legal costs in order to keep our fighting fund for another day.  This is should we need the fighting fund after the council’s planning meeting to decide whether or not to approve WCM’s new and improved cunning plan!
So, there is now an opportunity to firstly lobby the council so they do not, yet again, say yes to this revised planning application for the first deep coal mine in the UK in decades.

Should Cumbria County Council say yes again, Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole will challenge that, again!

But first things first – the revised plan can be seen Online via the County Council’s website at: planning.cumbria.gov.uk.   Application Ref No: 4/17/9007

Even if you have written in opposition to the plan before please do write again…this is in effect a new plan.

I will send out info soon to help people challenge this revised planning application with your own letters of opposition to Cumbria County Council.   We have not got long – the (first) official deadline is June 15th. 

We can Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole !! 

“Last Coal Mine” ? But it would last 50 years!

A colleague has just alerted us to this interview with CEO of West Cumbria Mining.

Full interview on New Civil Engineer 

Cumbria coal mine could be ‘the last one’ in the UK

The proposed £165M Woodhouse colliery in Cumbria could be “the last [coal mine] ever [built] in the UK”, according to West Cumbria Mining chief executive Mark Kirkbride.

Plans for the coal mine have been called into question amid fears that the facility could hinder the UK’s goal to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

And Kirkbride believes that the changes to planning regulations means that the Cumbrian facility could be the last coal mine ever constructed in the UK.

“If you asked me to get planning for another one, I would say it would be impossible right now unless something significantly changed,” Kirkbride said at a British Tunnelling Society lecture.

“When we applied for planning it was a different set of planning rules. Now if you were to submit planning you’d have to try and do whole life greenhouse gas assessments.”

However, Kirkbride believes it is unfair for the mine to be accountable for carbon emissions from coal once it leaves the mine.

He added: “The analogy I use is if you build a car factory you look at what the greenhouse impact is of the factory, what you don’t have to do is the life cycle emissions from the cars that you make. That doesn’t apply to the natural resources.

“People think we can determine how much CO2 for the life of the coal we’re producing. The challenge is that populist noise would make it impossible to get it past a planning committee.”

Kirkbride’s comments come amid a government push towards renewables.

This month Boris Johnson announced that the deadline for the phase out of coal from Britain’s energy system would be brought forward a year to 1 October 2024. The last five coal-fired power stations stations – Ratcliffe on Soar, West Burton, Fiddlers Ferry, Kilroot and Drax – are all expected to close.

Meanwhile, domestic coal and certain types of wood are also to be banned from sale from next year in a bid to cut air pollution.

However, the Woodhouse colliery would be excavating coal for use mainly in steel production – a key distinction, according to Kirkbride, who “fully supports” the phase out of coal for electricity.

The proposed development is for a large underground metallurgical, or ‘coking coal’, coal mine.

Coking coal is used exclusively in the manufacture of over 70% of the world’s steel, with more than 1.2bn.t used in global steel production around the world every year.

The coal is ‘baked’ in a coke oven which forces out impurities to produce coke. Modern steel plants include gas treatment and capture to reduce emissions. The steel produced is used in the likes of cars, kettles and trains, as well as in the manufacture of wind turbines and nuclear power stations.

Around 250t of coking coal is required to build an offshore wind turbine, which uses around 325t of steel.

West Cumbria Mining’s website describes these as “key alternatives to historical coal-powered energy generation”.

It adds that coking coal is “very different to thermal coal which is used to create steam to power turbines for creating electricity”.

However a report, published in January by independent thinktank Green Alliance, claims the coal mine is “incompatible” with the UK’s net zero goals.

It concludes that when burnt, the coal extracted from the mine would produce more than 8M.t of carbon dioxide per year – and identifies ways that the amount of coal used in steel production could actually be reduced.

These include using less steel, using recycled steel, improving the efficiency of steel production with conventional blast furnaces, and producing steel with new processes using renewable energy.

The report says opening a new coal mine will hinder this strategy by ensuring the continued availability of cheap coal.

As such, it contests Cumbria County Council’s claim that the mine will be carbon neutral.

Earlier this month environmental campaigners appealed for a judicial review against Cumbria County Council for giving the go ahead to the mine.

Campaign group Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole – run by the group Radiation Free Lakeland – filed the paperwork to launch the judicial review through the solicitors Leigh Day. They are now awaiting the court’s approval for a full hearing.

The mine was granted cross-party backing in March 2019.

 

 

Spring Watch at St Bees & July Date for Coal Mine Challenge

 

 

Dear Friends,

As you know we had planned a Spring Watch Wildlife Walk and Draw along the cliff top walk from Whitehaven to St Bees.  As we cannot do that here is a virtual walk with sketches of some of the birds that it is possible to see. Some are very vulnerable indeed such as the Black Guillemot,  just one of the reasons why we want to stop this coal mine.

The date of the week beginning the 20th July has now been set for the Legal Challenge which you have so generously donated funds towards.  A Press Release has been sent out to media and can be read below.  With many thanks for your continued support in the battle to stop this coal mine.  We will let you know more details about the 20th July date as soon as we know more.

With All Very Best Wishes

Marianne

on behalf of Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole.

****************************************************

PRESS NOTICE.                                                                     8th April 2020

POSSIBLE JULY DATE FOR CUMBRIAN COAL MINE LEGAL CHALLENGE

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole are challenging the decision by Cumbria County Council to allow the first phase of a major new coking coal mine deep under the Irish Sea.  The date for the Judicial Review is planned for the week commencing the 20th July (dependent on the situation with Covid19 restrictions) and will be heard at the High Court in Manchester.

The case is being brought on behalf of KCCH by Mrs Marianne Bennett (which is the legal name of the Cumbrian based artist Marianne Birkby). KCCH was founded by the campaign group Radiation Free Lakeland which was set up in 2008 to fight the plan for the geological disposal of nuclear wastes under Cumbria.  A crowdfunder set up by Mrs Bennett following Cumbria County Council’s decision in March 2019 to grant the coal mine planning permission has generated £10,435 to cover court costs and legal expenses.  KCCH have engaged the services of top environmental lawyers at Leigh Day, Matrix Chambers and Francis Taylor Buildings.

On 20 June 2019, Leigh Day wrote to Cumbria County Council addressing a number of legal issues. Despite being alerted to those concerns, Cumbria County Council ratified its decision on 31 October 2019.

JUDICIAL REVIEW

Consequently, KCCH launched its Judicial Review on 12 December 2019, arguing that Cumbria County Council had failed to properly assess the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of the mining operations, by wrongly claiming that the development would be “carbon neutral” without any evidence whatsoever to support such a claim. KCCH also submitted that Cumbria County Council had a legal requirement to consider whether the extraction and use of the coal would be in line with the Government’s target of Net Zero CO2 emissions by 2050, given the Whitehaven development will last for at least the next 50 years.

The developers West Cumbria Mining as ‘interested party,’ have throughout, strongly resisted the legal challenge. Arguing that KKCH’s case against Cumbria County Council is “without merit” in respect of both carbon emissions and the need for coking coal.  WCM also argued that the KCCH should be exposed to much higher costs, which could have jeopardised the Judicial Review going ahead. However, Mrs Justice Beverley Lang agreed in February 2019 that the legal issues are arguable, that they justify a public hearing and that KCCH could have a cap of £5,000 on court costs under Aarhus rules.

WEST CUMBRIAN MINING ‘U-TURN’ ON MIDDLINGS COAL ?

Since then, and in an apparent U-turn, WCM has sent a letter to Cumbria County Council (disclosed as part of the legal case) that says all of the extracted Coal can now go into the Steel Industry. In light of that change, WCM indicates in the letter that it will submit a revised planning application to Cumbria County Council. However, much is unknown as to whether the total amount of Coal will remain the same or whether there is still going to be a by-product of Middlings Coal, and if so how the environmental impact of disposing of that waste product will be assessed by Cumbria County Council before any revised planning application is approved.

CLIMATE IMPACTS

Neither WCM nor Cumbria County Council have yet addressed criticisms of the climate change impact of the Coal Mine raised in a report published by the Green Alliance. We understand from the same letter that WCM intends to do so as part of any revised planning application.

Meanwhile, KCCH intends to proceed with the legal challenge, because there are still questions concerning GHG emissions and the Net Zero target which campaigners believe are unaffected by these revisions.

Marianne Birkby from KKCH, said:

“We are pleased that a date has now been set for the legal challenge which has had to overcome so many hurdles already to get us to this point. We feel that this coal mine has gone way under the radar for so long – the climate impacts alone should have stopped this plan in its tracks from the outset  but there is also the issue, much on our minds,  that this coal mine would extend to within 5 miles of the Sellafield site.  Cumbria would be the only place in the UK with deep mining infrastructure in place.    We are delighted that full legal scrutiny of the climate change impacts will be addressed despite the manoeuvrings of West Cumbria Mining to try and circumvent any such legal challenge.  We will continue to work tirelessly along with others to stop this, outrageously dangerous coal mine plan under the Irish Sea.”

ENDS

Notes:

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole – blog

https://keepcumbriancoalinthehole.wordpress.com

CrowdJustice page

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/cumbriancoal2/

Radiation Free Lakeland – website

https://wildar4.wixsite.com/radiation-free-land

West Cumbria Mining – website

https://www.westcumbriamining.com

Leigh Day

https://www.leighday.co.uk

Aarhus Convention

https://ec.europa.eu/environment/aarhus/legislation.htm

The Case Against New Coal Mines in the UK – report by Green Alliance

https://www.green-alliance.org.uk/resources/The_case_against_new_coal_mines_in_the_UK.pdf

Opposition Grows!

OPPOSITION GROWS!

Dear Friends,

The Opposition to this Coal mine is GROWING!

Last week there were demonstrations from Cumbria to London. Demonstrations of opposition to the plan to open the first deep coal mine in decades.

Thank you to everyone who is opposing this coal mine whether it is by actively demonstrating opposition, contributing to the crowdfunder for the legal challenge or sharing the information.  It is all important and it all sends out the strong and growing message that this coal mine is totally unacceptable.

Please keep on sharing this crowd justice page and let folk know that we can stop this mine – it is NOT a done deal.

Here are a few links to the growing opposition…

Children should not have to go on hunger strike to stop this mine  ‘It’s a Huge Step Backwards’: Teenagers Hunger Striking to Stop the UK’s Newest Coal Mine By Phoebe Cooke • Wednesday, February 12, 2020 – 09:15

What a Week!

 

What a Week!!

Channel 4 skewers the Mayor, the MP and the Council bosses, Elijah gets his visit to the House, and the High Court says that there is a case to answer!

Well done everyone for getting this legal challenge off the starting blocks. Onwards and Upwards!!

Below is Leigh Day’s Press Release … you can also read it direct on their website 

 

We have been Granted Permission for Judicial Review! Well Done Everyone!!!

Dear Friends

Brilliant news we have just heard that we have been granted permission for a judicial review of Cumbria County Council’s decision to allow the first deep coal mine in 30 years in the UK to be built.

Well done everyone for getting this challenge off the starting blocks. Onwards and Upwards!!

Below is Leigh Day’s Press Release … you can read it direct on their website 

 

6 February 2020

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole (KCCH), are challenging Cumbria County Council’s Development Control and Regulation Committee’s decision to resolve to grant planning permission for a major new underground metallurgical coal mine on the former Marchon Chemical Works site in Whitehaven, Cumbria. The judicial review will be heard at the High Court in Manchester on a date yet to be set.

KCCH is an active environmental campaign group in the local area, and was one of the leading objectors to the planning application focussing its objections on the proximity of the coal mine site to the nuclear facility at Sellafield.

Cumbria County Council resolved to grant planning permission following a unanimous vote on 19 March 2019. On 20 June 2019, Leigh Day wrote to Cumbria County Council. The letter addressed a number of legal issues, including Cumbria County Council’s failures to consider:

  • Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of the mining operations
  • The need for, and GHG impacts of, Middlings Coal
  • The Government’s Net Zero target.

Despite being alerted to those concerns, Cumbria County Council ratified its decision on 31 October 2019. Mrs Justice Beverley Lang has now agreed that those legal issues are arguable and justify a public hearing.

Marianne Birkby from KCCH, said:

“Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole are delighted we are able to bring this Judicial Review in order to challenge the decision made by Cumbria County Council to approve the first deep coal mine in decades. This legal challenge is only happening because of the ongoing determination of our campaigning and the huge generosity of everyone who has donated to the crowd-funder.”

Rowan Smith, solicitor at law firm Leigh Day, who is representing Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole, with Anna Dews and Carol Day from Leigh Day, said:

“We are pleased that the High Court has granted our client permission for a judicial review of Cumbria County Council’s decision to allow this coal mine development. This legal action shines a light on how all local planning authorities should assess the climate change impacts of development of this nature, particularly with the backdrop of the UK Parliament declaring a climate emergency and the Government’s commitment to ensuring that the Net Zero target is reached by 2050.

“We are in the middle of a climate crisis, and our clients have worked tirelessly to bring this issue into the public domain. There will now be full legal scrutiny of the climate change impact of this proposal, which is estimated to translate to 420 million tonnes CO₂e even without taking into account the emissions arising from the extraction process.”

David Wolfe QC from Matrix chambers and Merrow Golden from Francis Taylor Building chambers are instructed.

Queen’s Speech: Boris is Giving Up Fossil Fuels – Just Not Yet

Hope you all had a jolly good Christmas with friends and family.

Just had to share this with you…

Here is an extract from the excellent article in the Independent a few days ago from Donnachadh McCarthy.

“The Queen’s Speech boasted about how the government was phasing out coal-fired power stations by 2025. This is genuinely positive, as coal is the highest source of carbon emissions in the energy industry. However, the speech made no mention of the fact that Johnson’s government is also giving the go-ahead to one of the biggest new coal mines in Europe, the Woodhouse Colliery in Cumbria. Johnson is beginning to resemble Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull who, despite his country being in flames, backs the new Adani coal mine. If you closed down the UK economy for a year, you would not have saved as much carbon emissions as the Woodhouse Colliery will, if allowed to open, emit over its lifetime.”   (our emphasis)

The full article can be read here

Thanks to all of you amazing folk who have been actively opposing the Woodhouse Colliery coal mine in whatever way, whether it is joining our demonstrations, writing letters, petitions, walks and talking to people about the plan. Thanks to all who have also been sharing the CrowdJustice page and donating to the fundraiser we now have a fighting chance at stopping this outrageous plan with a legal challenge.

Onwards and Upwards to 2020!

Woodhouse Colliery Disaster Must be Stopped – Article in the Independent

Independent.jpg
Read the Full Article Here 

 

Article in the Independent – Hot off the press

For a long time now Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole have been saying: What is worse than a new coal mine?  Opening up a new coal mine just five miles from the riskiest nuclear waste site in the world ! (slightly misquoted  but the article nevertheless does a brilliant job of exposing the multiple disasters opening this coal mine would precipitate)

MANY THANKS to Donnachadh McCarthy of The Independent for having the tenacity and determination to get this published..

Here is an extract

“Just imagine if the government turned off all the electricity to all the homes in the UK. All the lights, all the electric heating, all the TVs, washing machines, fridges – everything. Even if they kept them turned off for 20 years, you still would not have saved all of the 420 million tons of carbon emissions emitted by a new planned coal mineover its lifetime.”

and the full article can be read here

Our CrowdJustice Fundraising to take forward the legal challenge with top lawyers Leigh Day can be found here

Little Puffin Says Thank You!- Lets Stop This Coal Mine!

Puffin
Here is a little puffin to THANK YOU for all the generous donations so far towards the legal case against the Coal Mine!

This little puffin ( hand made last night!) represents the amazing birds that are sometimes seen at St Bees.  In order for the puffin to continue to visit St Bees they need sandeels which we know are under threat from temperature rise in the oceans.

On the next update we will share the letter which has been sent to Cumbria County Council from Leigh Day.  The letter is the start of the legal battle which aims to keep the temperature from rising in our oceans by stopping this diabolic plan for the first deep coal mine in decades!

Please keep sharing!  We CAN stop this coal mine and it will be ALL THANKS TO YOU!

Here is the Link to our Crowd Justice page  Please Keep Sharing and lets get the message out that this coal mine is not a done deal