Delivering the Petition to Call In the Crazy Coal Mine Plan to the Home Office

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Outside the Home Office, Kevin  the West Cumbrian Mining Canary has that sinking feeling! 

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Yesterday in the cold sunshine a couple of intrepid Cumbrians and a naked yellow ‘coal mine canary’ called Kevin made the journey to London.

We were delivering a petition signed by 1527 folk (now risen to 1582) who are asking the Secretary of State James Brokenshire MP to call in the outrageous decision for a new deep undersea coal mine.

We will keep the petition open to demonstrate the strength of feeling against this plan which so many people living nearby are opposed to.

On the same day that we were delivering the petition the Mayor of Copeland sent an extraordinary letter to the Secretary of State. In his letter the Mayor, Mike Starkie restates the view he expressed to Cumbria County Councillors.  The Mayor urges the Secretary of State to ignore the high level expert advice which has described the damage that this plan would do to our planet’s climate,  and to ignore the very real concerns of nuclear safety campaigners who fear this plan would increase the already intolerable and overwhelming radioactive risks from Sellafield to Cumbria and beyond.

West Cumbria Mining have spent £millions on promoting this plan with lobbyists wooing local MPs and government ministers many of whom have been lured by the entirely faux ‘environmental’ reassurances.

The Mayor of Copeland repeats the mantra that this plan has overwhelming support from ordinary West Cumbrians.  We would like to invite the Mayor of Copeland to take a walk with us, in the presence of a journalist to act as a witness, and to ask those we meet in the streets of Workington, Egremont, Whitehaven and Kells what their view is of West Cumbria Mining’s plan.

 

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The Mayor of Copeland and WCM keep on repeating the mantra that this mine is wanted by local folk.  It is true that West Cumbria is desperately in need of jobs and investment. What West Cumbria is not in need of is yet another dead duck and expensive (in more ways than one) industry to suck the remaining life out it.

Here are some excerpts of what locals are saying…

 

This was the view of everyone we chatted to in Workington (except one)

What are folk saying who live even nearer the proposed mine?

This is an extract from a letter sent by local folk to Cumbria County Council (it may be available on the CCC website  – although our letters of objection from Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole are not on!!)

“Pow Beck has the railway and a couple of wind turbines but in the main it is a tranquil, fairly secluded and pretty place. In our opinion the Railway Loading Facility will affect our environment with emission, dust, noise and light, and detrimental to the ecology here. The facility will impact the peaceful enjoyment of our home, St. Bees village and Pow Beck wildlife.

The building is large and railway sidings extensive. The facility will be visually overbearing and no amount of tree planting or timber clad buildings will soften its appearance on the landscape. They have planned technically advanced building to keep the dust, noise and emissions to regulation levels, but the Loading Facility will still be a noisy, dusty and bright facility in our quiet, dark valley.

By its very nature mining is a messy business and we are not convinced by the marketing and bright coloured CGI animations used to demonstrate how this MODERN mine will operate. The animation makes it looks so clean but we have the opinion that is far from the facts. It does not show the shunting of wagons to the sidings, the plumes of dust as each wagon is loaded; We read somewhere 4 trains’ daily transporting coal to Redcar. These quieter modern trains can pull at least 21 large covered coal wagons, not the 7/8 shown on the CGI.

In our estimate that must be a train over 200m long. The CGI does not show those large trains trundling past homes through Mirehouse, Parton or Harrington to name a few. Pow Beck is going to be a very different place at all times of the day and night. We thought the United Nations and EU have in place regulations to reduce carbon emissions to meet climate targets, yet here we are in Cumbria giving consideration to digging out millions of tonnes of coal. We would have thought political policy would have put the kibosh on mining in this country, indeed in March of this year our government rejected an open cast mine in Northumberland saying the environmental impact outweighs economic benefits.

In Wales, only last month, they have reached the decisions no new mining unless under exceptional circumstances. WCM say 80% will be exported. We produce the coal and let someone else burn it. What a legacy, will we ever learn? Mining coal is a retrograde step, Apologies to all those miners past and present, We don’t wish to be ungrateful for their legacy, but we should not be thinking of building a new mine, burning coal is never going to be clean enough and that’s the facts.

Since 2014 WCM Ltd have marketed the mines with the creation of jobs for a lot of people over a very long time, benefits for the economy; an investment for West Cumbria. It is our belief that the environmental costs and environmental risk are too high a price for all that. The coal is not an asset anymore, the burning of fossil fuel is a liability that our children will be paying for. Therefore, we ask that Cumbria County Council refuse this planning application and keep Copeland coal, and other pollutants locked beneath the sandstone out of harm’s way.”

That last line from folk living near this proposal is worth repeating

..”we ask that Cumbria County Council refuse this planning application and keep Copeland coal, and other pollutants locked beneath the sandstone out of harm’s way.”

These are the locals that the Mayor Mike Starkie wants the Secretary of State to ignore – having sucessfully urged the County Council to ignore them!    Is this what a Mayor is for?

 

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Bad News and Good News

Dear Friends,

There is bad news and good news.  Bad news is that apparently the Development Control & Regulation decision cannot be ‘called in’ internally by Cumbria County Council

Good news is that all your fantastic emails and messages to councillors and others has resulted in Tim Farron MP requesting that the Secretary of State calls in this diabolic decision to give a green light to the first deep coal mine in the UK in decades.

We shall give an update on how we can best support this request for a call in by Tim Farron MP to the Secretary of State as soon as possible.

In the meantime – for those folk who were not able to get to the meeting, here are a few videos taken on the day (sorry I didn’t get all the speakers including myself!)   Grab a cuppa and watch the terrible drama unfold – and make no mistake this will make your toes curl.  It is significant that the proximity to Sellafield was not even brought up as an issue by the Council officers.  Sickeningly the members of the committee laughed their socks off when I pointed out that a liquefaction event had taken place in Barrow in the 1800’s – the ground at Sellafield is at high risk of liquefaction in the event of seismic activity.  The last thing we need is earthquake inducing deep mining and massive fresh water extraction to wash the coal (to be extracted from a fault near Whitehaven – they kept that freshwater extraction quiet!).

 

Part 1. Council Officials addressing the  Development Control and Regulation Committee of Cumbria County Council. The full council did not have a chance to debate this.  We heard Lib Dem Cllr and Chair of the meeting Geoff Cook clearly approve of the first deep coal mine in the UK in decades. Incredibly the close proximity (8km) to Sellafield was not discussed at all by councillors or by their officials.

 

 

Part 2 . Part 2. Official of Cumbria County Council outlining how adverse effects can be mitigated from the first deep coal mine in the UK in decades (really?)

 

Part 3. Dr Henry Adams of SLACCtt making a presentation to Cumbria County Council “SLACCtt most strongly objects to West Cumbria Mining’s application because the carbon emissions it would add are so huge that they would have very significant negative consequences that would far outweigh the benefits claimed.”

 

Part 4.  Dr Laurie Michaelis IPCC Emissions report author and coordinator of Living Witness.  making a breathtaking presentation to Cumbria County Council –

“Speaking to you feels like possibly the single most important thing I’ll do in my life.”

which they totally ignored.

 

Part 5. Sam of Radiation Free Lakeland/Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole exposes West Cumbria Mining’s false promises over jobs. “It would be truly difficult to find a bigger dead duck proposal than producing fossil fuels for a declining European steel industry. …Cumbria has had it’s fair share of dead and dying industries – old coal and now nuclear – we do not need another dead duck industry . . . Coal is not the future. 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 What we need are jobs that do have a future. Please look to the future stability of jobs in Cumbria and JUST SAY NO.”

 

Part 6.  Dr Stuart Parkinson, Executive Director of Scientists for Global Responsibility   “In summary, approving this application for a coal mine would be a huge step backwards for efforts to tackle climate change – and thus would increase the risks of extreme weather events such as storms and floods. Meanwhile, the economic case for the mine is flawed. Therefore, I strongly urge the planning committee to reject the application. ”   

Part 7. Mayor of Copeland, Mike Starkie tells councillors to Ignore the “sensationalist” claims of the objectors who have nothing to do with West Cumbria and the objectors views should carry no weight whatsoever (?! what a brass neck this Mayor has… many objectors are local to Whitehaven  and WCM is a dodgy company funded by who knows who from who knows where). Councillors agree entirely with the Mayor of Copeland (who makes the ‘Jaws’ Mayor look quite reasonable) and vote unanimously to approve the first deep coal mine in the UK in decades.  The Mayor points out that Sellafield are right behind this plan to mine deep holes in Cumbria.

 

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Coal Mine Plan featured on BBC Sunday Politics

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m0003gyd/sunday-politics-north-east-and-cumbria-sunday-politics-north-east

The plan gets a little bit of opposition on the BBC ……at the 11th hour!

Well done to Jill Perry who admits that the local Green Party did originally try and love this plan   (which has made our campaign against it doubly difficult)   but Jill made some excellent points about the climate impacts and exposed  some of  the nonsense from WCM that the plan is ‘environmentally sound’

Notable that the Mayor of Copeland and Trudy Harrison were given time to gush their appalling support.