Methane Shock


Dear Friends,

Big Thank You to All – We are keeping the CrowdJustice page open a while longer to keep folk updated and to keep on raising awareness about the insanity of this coal mine.Cumbria would be the ONLY place in the UK to have ANY deep mining going on. West Cumbria Mining plan to mine for coking and industrial coal in the “gassiest pit in the kingdom”. West Cumbria is the place where the Davey Lamp was tested out because methane is so prevalent under the Irish Sea bed.

A recent article in The Ecologist explains why methane – always known to be a dangerous gas is more dangerous than we thought. Stopping the Coal Mine in Cumbria just got a whole lot more urgent.


“Scientists have been vastly underestimating the amount of methane humans are emitting into the atmosphere through fossil fuels, according to research.

Analysis published in the journal Nature shows methane emissions from fossil fuels owing to human activity is around 25 percent to 40 percent higher than thought.

But researchers believe their findings offer hope, saying stricter regulations to curb methane emissions could help reduce future global warming to “a larger extent than previously thought”.

Ice core

Benjamin Hmiel, a professor of earth and environmental science at the University of Rochester and one of the study authors, said: “I don’t want to get too hopeless on this because my data does have a positive implication: most of the methane emissions are anthropogenic, so we have more control.

“If we can reduce our emissions, it’s going to have more of an impact.”

Read the Full Article HERE

Cumbrian Coal Deposits are Methane Rich – Leave them in the Ground!

Old King Coal
Old King Coal (from Comic Vine)


The Cumbrian Coal deposits under the Irish Sea off St Bees are methane rich.  West Cumbria Mining’s proposed development has already released an unknown quantity of methane from beneath the Irish Sea bed when it hit a methane gas pocket whilst carrying out exploration back in 2017:  ” drilling operations from a jack-up barge had struck a gas pocket approximately one nautical mile from St Bee’s Head. The drilling is part of a programme of exploration work to support a new coal mining project in west Cumbria…Local authorities, fire rescue, police and the Environment Agency were all informed.”

Now in 2019 West Cumbria Mining have been given the green light by Cumbria County Council to continue their release of methane which is currently safely contained deep beneath the Irish Sea bed.

It was due to this area’s methane rich status that the famous safety Davy Lamp was tested out right here in West Cumbria!

Today’s Guardian reports that : “Methane emissions from coalmines could stoke climate crisis…Millions of tonnes belched into atmosphere as bad as shipping and aviation emissions combined, researchers find”

“Dave Jones, an analyst at the climate thinktank Sandbag, said the report proves the global coal industry “is even more polluting than we thought” and should face tougher regulation.”

“It found that deeper coal seams tend to contain more methane than shallower seams, while older seams have higher methane content than younger seams. The findings were applied across all countries with coalmines to estimate the global scourge of coalmine methane.”


Interesting bit about the Davy lamp here

“In 1816, the Cumberland Pacquet reported a demonstration of the Davy lamp at William Pit, Whitehaven. Placed in a blower “… the effect was grand beyond description. At first a blue flame was seen to cap the flame of the lamp, – then succeeded a lambent flame, playing in the cylinder; and shortly after, the flame of the firedamp expanded, so as to completely fill the wire gauze. For some time, the flame of the lamp was seen through that of the firedamp, which became ultimately extinguished without explosion. Results more satisfactory were not to be wished…”[11] Another correspondent to the paper commented “The Lamp offers absolute security to the miner… With the excellent ventilation of the Whitehaven Collieries and the application of Sir HUMPHRY’s valuable instrument, the accidents from the explosion of’ (carburetted) ‘hydrogene which have occurred (although comparatively few for such extensive works) will by this happy invention be avoided”.[11]

Unfortunately, this prediction was not fulfilled: in the next thirty years, firedamp explosions in Whitehaven pits cost 137 lives.[12]:139 More generally, the Select Committee on Accidents in Mines reported in 1835 that the introduction of the Davy lamp had led to an increase in mine accidents;[9]:130 the lamp encouraged the working of mines and parts of mines that had previously been closed for safety reasons.[13]”


PLEASE Support our legal fight against a new coal mine in Cumbria

Support our Legal Fight Against a New Coal Mine in Cumbria


Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole.jpg

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole – demonstration back in 2017


Many groups including KCCH and individuals demonstrating outside Cumbria County Council offices on the day of ratification 31st October 2019

NEW – LEGAL CHALLENGE – We need your help. 

Check out the CrowdJustice page here – we have donated £50 already but- we need £5000 to take forward the Legal Challenge.  If you cannot donate then please do share and get the message out that this fight against the first deep coal mine in the UK in decades is far from over.

Thank you to Lawyers Leigh Day who have already put so much work into paving the way and ensuring a legal challenge is possible.

UPDATE: What a rollercoaster!  Firstly on 31st October we had an amazing demonstration of opposition outside Cumbria County Council offices with many groups and individuals taking part to show the strength of feeling against this coal mine.  This was despite the fact that we only found out last minute by accident about the ‘ratification’ meeting for the first deep coal mine in the UK in decades.  As you will have heard the committee again voted unanimously to pass the plans…shocking!  Then on the same day as the much publicised announcement on the halt to fracking there was a much more subdued announcement that the Secretary of State will not call in Cumbria County Council’s outrageous decision on the coal mine for a public inquiry.

Thank you so much for the donations so many of you have already made for the initial advice from top lawyers Leigh Day.  This has been of such enormous value and has paved the way for a legal challenge so we can continue to fight this terrible plan..

A new crowd justice fundraiser is now live and can be found here.  We now need to up the ante and raise enough funds to cover the costs of a full legal challenge. We can’t do it without your help.  If you can share the page or donate no matter how small the donation then please do.

If this coal mine is not stopped the carbon emissions alone would be likely to result over its lifetime to one full year of UK national emissions.  This is crazy given that the UK government has declared a climate emergency.

Not only would this coal mine produce 9 million tonnes of CO2 emissions every year (not including methane, radon etc)  but the plan is to extend mining activity under the Irish Sea to within 5 miles of Sellafield.

The results of induced seismic events of any magnitude at the worlds riskiest nuclear waste site could be catastrophic on a planetary scale.

There are so many reasons to oppose this coal mine plan from climate catastrophe to nuclear catastrophe.  That is why we are  campaigning hard to stop the plan.

Please check out the CrowdJustice Page  and PLEASE continue to Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole!   All donations made will go direct to the legal challenge!

With Many Thanks!!!


Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole – a Radiation Free Lakeland campaign

Ratification of Coal Mine? NO!! NO!! NO!!

sent to press


Back in spring of this year the first deep coal mine in the UK in decades was given unanimous approval by Cumbria County Council. 


Following the threat of legal action by campaigners Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole, the Council have nervously decided that they need to ratify their approval.  Their unanimous approval was based on the need for coking coal and jobs in the West Cumbrian town of Whitehaven.  Coal mining ceased in Whitehaven in 1986 when the Haig Pit closed.  Since then this harbour town has increasingly become a satellite of Sellafield with new offices being built by demolishing heritage architecture and decanting workers from the nuclear waste site.  One of the trendy new offices housing Sellafield staff is adjacent to a foul chimney which has been left as a feature.  The foul chimney originally vented methane out of the old mines. 

Foul Chimney and Sellafield Office


Following the council’s decision based on the ‘need for jobs and coking coal’ there was outrage expressed in a previously rather muted national press despite letters to The Guardian and others.  Perhaps because of this outrage and surprise that plans for a coal mine under the Irish Sea bed should be approved, the then Secretary of State, James Brokenshire MP issued a ‘holding direction’ under article 31 of the Town and Country Planning Order 2015. This prevents the release of the Council’s decision until the Secretary of States decides whether to call in the application for public inquiry.  


Demo outside County Offices, Kendal prior to the 19th March unanimous approval vote by Cumbria County Council .


The letter sent to Cumbria County Council on 20th June from lawyers Leigh Day opens the way for legal action in the form of a  Judicial Review should the Secretary of State not call in the decision.  Leigh Day’s letter which was made possibe through crowdfunding by Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole informs the County Council of a number of flaws and omissions in their planning assessment.  The letter invites the Committee to formally re-consider its approval.

These flaws include Cumbria County Council’s failures to consider:

  1. Green house gas emissions of the mining operations
  2. The need for, and GHG impacts of, Middlings Coal
  3. GHG impacts of an increase in coal production.

Demo in Whitehaven following the Council's Decision

Demo in Whitehaven attended by various groups, following the County Council’s ‘Yes’ vote

The letter from Leigh Day states in conclusion: 

“For the reasons given above, KCCH formally requests that the Committee reconsiders its resolution to grant planning permission for the Whitehaven Coalmine development and asks that the Committee has full regard to each of the considerations listed above when it does so.” 

No Coal - cumbria

Demonstrators in Whitehaven after the Council’s ‘Yes’vote


Since Leigh Day wrote their letter putting the council ‘on notice’ of legal action in June for their flawed decision in March there have been further developments.

This makes Javelin Global Commodities a venture capital company that sees coal and nuclear hand in hand.  Murray Energy is on the verge of bankruptcy having left a trail of devastation in the US and is looking to squeeze the pips out of other stressed communities such as that of West Cumbria which is already suffering from the skewed socio-economics of nuclear.  Uniper, the subsidiary of the Finnish state operated nuclear corporation Fortum, has recently produced a briefing paper of “analysis and recommendations to assist investors, insurers and banks in achieving a coal phase-out from Fortum and Uniper in line with the climate targets of the UN Paris Climate Agreement and protecting citizen’s health”.   OK so why are they investing in a coal mine?

The civil society nuclear safety group Radiation Free Lakeland was founded over 10 years ago out of sheer frustration over the lack of unequivocal opposition to the government’s ‘Managing Radioactive Wastes Safely’ plan for geological ‘disposal’ of intermediate and high level nuclear wastes.  Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole is another Radiation Free Lakeland campaign that was borne out of similar frustrations with seeing West Cumbria Mining get away with outragous PR spin for its mine proposal just five miles from Sellafield.   Marianne Birkby the founder of Radiation Free Lakeland says “the plan for the mined out Irish Sea bed is to hyraulically backfill the mine with goodness knows what into the voids.  Adding nuclear partners into the mix inspires apprehension that there is more to this coal mine than meets the eye and what meets the eye really is bad enough!”

Campaigners are urging people to contact Cumbria County Council with their opposition to ratification of the coal mine plan.  People can email the Development Control Committee asking that this outrageous coal mine plan is not ratified

The meeting will be in Kendal County Offices  on 31st Oct with a demonstration outside the offices from 8.30am.  Campaigners hope  that as many people as can get to Kendal  County Offices on 31st October will come along and demand that the Council do not ratify the decision to open the first deep coal mine in the UK in decades.

A petition of almost 2000 signatures has also been handed to Tim Farron MP by Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole to give to the Secretary of State asking him to call the decision in for a public inquiry.

Uniper/Fortum briefing paper

Wildlife Watch – Who will Speak Up for these beautiful creatures ?


These pictures were taken in September 2019.

The wildlife is returning to the mining area of Whitehaven following decades of coal extraction. Now three decades after coal extraction stopped the plan is to open the first deep coal mine in the UK here under the Irish Sea off the fragile wildlife habitat of St Bees.

The mine would extend to within five miles of Sellafield. Cumbria County Council voted unanimously to approve the plan back in March and they plan to ratify this on October 31st 2019.

The battle goes on.

Please write, phone, email, speak opposing ratification.

******contact Cumbria County Council stating your opposition to their ratification of the coal mine plan.  
People can email the Development Control Committee asking that this outrageous coal mine plan is not ratified.  You can ask to speak at the meeting in Kendal on the 31st October (see above)  demanding that the original vote by Cumbria County Council is not ratified.  


Quote:   Ref No. 4/17/9007  West Cumbria Mining
The meeting will be in Kendal County Offices  on 31st Oct. at 10am  We hope  that as many people as can get to Kendal  County Offices on 31st October will come along and demand that the Council do not ratify the decision to open the first deep coal mine in the UK in decades.********

A Postcard to Sir David Attenborough –

Dear Sir David.jpgPostcard to David Attenborough.jpg

The postcard above is a painting of the black guillemots at St Bees.

“Dear Sir David Attenborough,

Thank you for voicing opposition to the Coal Mine planned under the sea at St Bees.

West Cumbria Mining the developers have signed an exploratory agreement with your good friend Her Majesty.  New agreements with the Crown are due to be signed for exploitation of the coal under the Irish Sea.  This is the last nesting place in England of the black guillemot.  There is more information on our Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole website. Please ask Her Majesty not to sign agreements with West Cumbria Mining,

Yours sincerely,

Marianne Birkby”

The Coal Mine and The Crown


Letter published in the Westmorland Gazette,   also sent to Sir David Attenborough

LETTER: Sir David Attenborough could stop the Cumbrian coal mine


WHAT fantastic news that Sir David Attenborough is lending his voice to those opposing the coal mine under the Irish Sea off St Bees.

As a nuclear safety group concerned about the safety of Sellafield, we have been opposing this nearby coal mine from the outset.

Sellafield is recognised as the most hazardous place in Europe with stockpiles of the most dangerous radioactive wastes on the planet. This coal mine would extend to just 8km from these nuclear wastes, so there are big concerns.

The Sellafield area has been identified in a recent geological report as being at high risk of liquefaction (where the earth turns to mush). Liquefaction can result from earthquakes, and the only place in the UK to have had such an event is at Rampside near Barrow – it was a very small-magnitude earthquake.

This March, when I stood shaking at the planning meeting in Kendal and spoke opposing the coal mine, the councillors laughed. They laughed about Sellafield being at high risk of liquefaction (as described in a recent geological report); they laughed as the last liquefaction event near Barrow was in 1865, pre Trident: the blink of an eye in geological terms.

There are other considerations. The area at St Bees is the last breeding place in England of the black guillemot and the RSPB has voiced its opposition to the mine.

Former director of Friends of the Earth, Jonathon Porritt, pointed out very early on that: “As I understand it, the sole justification from a sustainability point of view is that the extracted coal will be coking coal, not thermal coal (for use in power stations), with some preposterous notion that this will apparently produce a lower carbon footprint than coking coal imported from other countries. Yet so far as I can tell, no detailed lifecycle analysis, both direct and indirect, has been done by West Cumbria Mining…”

The coal mine would also have to mine “middlings” coal, cynically described as a by-product in order to get to the coking coal.

It seems to us there are two very powerful things Sir David Attenborough is uniquely placed to do to stop this coal mine entirely in its tracks:

1. He could ask the Housing, Communities and Local Government Secretary, Robert Jenrick MP, to call Cumbria County Council’s flawed decision in for a public inquiry.

2. From our correspondence with Prince Charles’ office, we believe he is sympathetic to campaigners opposing the coal mine. A quiet word from Sir David to his friend Prince Charles may be all it takes to rip up the Crown’s existing and future planned agreements with West Cumbria Mining for the mineral exploitation of the coal under the seabed. Without these agreements between the developers and the Crown, the coal mine cannot proceed.

Those actions would make Sir David our true knight in shining armour and the black guillemots would not be the only ones celebrating!

Marianne Birkby

On behalf of Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole, a Radiation Free Lakeland campaign