Coal Mine to be Recommended for Approval Tomorrow?

We have heard on the grapevine that the Planning Inspector Stephen Normington will announce his recommendation on the Cumbria Coal Mine plan tomorrow – the same day as the Energy Security Strategy is to be announced.

The following are some personal thoughts….

The timing suggests that the Planning Inspector will recommend approval – its always a good day to bury bad news in the midst of a whole raft of bad news. We hope beyond hope that the Planning Inspector will recommend refusal…but given the governmental push for new nuclear and the fact that the CEO of the Coal Mine is a key advisor on the (pro-nuclear government’s) ‘necessity’ of putting nuclear waste “away,” we suspect the former.

Approval of the coal mine would help the government push through on its nuclear plans as the condemnation regarding the coal mine would include the ire of well known talking heads both nationally and internationally and that ire would enjoy blanket media coverage (unlike the ire against nuclear). Similarly with the recent announcement that fracking might not be dead and buried. The campaign agenda for activists and the public can easily be coralled narrowly into coal and fracking with celebrities and headlines – leaving the campaigners fighting to end the poisoning of the populace and the planet, from nuclear, in a very hard place.

It is heart breaking that mainstream NGOs have comprehensively ignored the nuclear aspects of this coal mine, its close proximity to Sellafield, its location under the radioactively contaminated Cumbrian Mud Patch and the appointment of the coal boss and his head of operations to the nuclear waste plans. The public have been steered away from the cold hard truth about this coal mine and it has done no-one apart from the nuclear industry and our pro-nuclear government any favours. If that sounds bitter it isn’t – it is beyond bitterness.

Here’s hoping that the Inspector recommends refusal.

Climate Noise Has Obscured Nuclear Dump Cronyism and Nuclear Impacts of Coal Mine – Why Bother With Traffic Light System for Induced Earthquakes?

The following letter has just been sent to the Coal Mine Planning Inspector Mr Stephen Normington following a letter from the Rt Hon Greg Hands, Minister of State for Energy, Clean Growth and Climate Change (this Govnt department appointed the coal mine boss as “invaluable” nuclear dump advisor).

Dear Planning Inquiry Inspector Mr Stephen Normington,

Happy New Year to you and yours.

We, Radiation Free Lakeland (who run the Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole campaign) are aware that you will shortly be making a recommendation to the Secretary of State on West Cumbria Mining’s coal mine plan.

We would like to draw your attention to a letter (attached) we have received from the Rt Hon Greg Hands, Minister of State for Energy, Clean Growth and Climate Change.  The reply is to our letter requesting that, should the coal mine be approved by government, then a seismic Traffic Light System at least as stringent as that for the oil and gas industry should be part of the conditions imposed.   The empirical evidence (presented by Radiation Free Lakeland at the Planning Inquiry) is unequivocal in its findings that coal mining produces earthquakes of far greater magnitude and frequency than that of fracking.  Despite this Greg Hands MP states that there will be no Traffic Light System for the coal mine.

In tandem with the absence of a seismic Traffic Light System is the outrageous allowance of 6mm/s Peak Particle Velocity as agreed by the Inquiry’s Rule 6 Parties and Developer for ground movements as a result of the deep mining proposed.   As you will be aware the PPV at which “receptors”  will make complaints is 1mm/s.

An observer of the bulk of the Planning Inquiry would have had no idea of the uniquely dangerous sense of place regarding the planned coal mine.  If this same coal mine was anywhere in the world the climate impacts would be the same.  But this coal mine is not anywhere in the world.  It is five miles from Sellafield, the worlds riskiest nuclear waste site,  under the arguably most radioactively contaminated sea in the world and directly beneath the radioactively contaminated Cumbrian Mud Patch.

You will see In his reply to us the Minister answers a question we did not ask – namely the use of the coal mine as a nuclear dump – no one in their right mind would think of using a coal mine as a nuclear dump, our concerns lay with the undeniable connections/cronyism between the coal mine and the proposed Geological Disposal Facility.

The Government’s refusal to consider a seismic Traffic Light System for the earthquake inducing coal mine is a case in point. 

Mark Kirkbride the CEO of West Cumbria Mining was appointed in 2019 as an “invaluable” adviser to the Government (Committee on Radioactive Waste Management) on the digging of big holes for a Geological Disposal Facility for Heat Generating Nuclear Wastes and for shallower Near Surface Disposal of Low and Intermediate Level Nuclear Wastes.   

We are painfully aware, as no doubt is government nuclear dump advisor Mark Kirkbride, that a seismic Traffic Light System for an earthquake inducing deep undersea coal mine would also impact negatively on the facilitation of an even deeper hole for a GDF. The Irish Sea area adjacent to the coal mine is in the frame for a GDF.

We urge you to take all these related issues into consideration and emphatically advise refusal for the deep coal mine which is far more than the sum of its (more widely reported) climate/jobs parts.   Should this coal mine go ahead the people and environment of Cumbria and the planet WILL be exposed to deep radiological, immediate and irreversible impacts that will make the more widely reported and not to be sneezed at climate impacts pale into insignificance.

The whole thing feels like a massive stitch up in which the climate issues have been used as a smoke screen to hide the nuclear impacts of this coal mine.  If Leonardo DiCaprio (of “Don’t Look Up” fame)  thinks climate campaigners have it bad he should walk a mile in the shoes of nuclear safety campaigners!

Please ensure the safety of Cumbria and the planet by emphatically advising refusal for this out of control deep coal mine five miles from Sellafield.

Thank You.

Yours sincerely,

Marianne Birkby
Radiation Free Lakeland who run the Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole campaign


Photo by Pixabay on

Dear Friends

Thank you to all who have signed the petition and a really big thanks to those who spoke out at the coal mine planning inquiry about the earthquake/subsidence risks to Sellafield.   Because of all of you the Planning Inquiry will now *touch on*  seismicity and proximity to Sellafield.  (The Planning Inspector stated this at the beginning of today’s proceedings) 

We need to make sure that Cumbria County Council do more than *touch on*  serious public health and safety concerns by requiring the developer West Cumbria Mining to agree to s106 conditions on seismicity at least as stringent as the Fracking Traffic Light System  (s106 are conditions to be placed on the coal mine should the Secretary of State give approval)

Please do write to Cumbria County Council and copy to the Planning Inspectorate asking that a Traffic Light System at least as stringent as that for fracking is placed on the coal mine as part of the s106 conditions.

It is Cumbria County Council who have the power to insist on this condition on seismicity to safeguard us from earthquakes should this coal mine be given the go ahead.  It is incredible that the issue of tree planting and landscaping is being given far more attention than the almost taboo fact that this coal mine, just five miles from Sellafield, WILL induce earthquakes.

The earthquake likelihood and potential nuclear fallout including resuspension of radioactive silts under the Irish Sea would have gone unrecorded had it not been for those who spoke on nuclear impacts.  

Heartfelt Thank you to  Irene Sanderson from North Cumbria CND, Lindy Powell, John Ashton, Neil Wilson and Samagita Moisha who all raised the nuclear/earthquake issue.  I spoke on behalf of Radiation Free Lakeland and followed up with a letter urging Cumbria County Council and the Planning Inquiry to put conditions at least as stringent as those for fracking on the coal mine should the Secretary of State grant permission.

Please do write to Cumbria County Council and copy to the Planning Inspectorate asking that a Traffic Light System at least as stringent as that for fracking is placed on the coal mine as part of the s106 conditions (conditions placed on developments).

Email Cumbria County Council:

copy to the Planning Inspectorate:

Our letter can be seen here – your letter doesn’t need to be long – here is a suggestion for inspiration :  Please ensure a Traffic Light System at least as stringent as that for fracking is placed on the coal mine which is just five miles from the world’s riskiest nuclear waste site and directly under decades of radioactive wastes now on the sea-bed.

Remember to include your name and address. 

The coal mine operators do not propose stopping operations even if earthquakes of a far greater magnitude than 0.5 ML occur.  This is outrageous given that coal mining is known to induce earthquakes of 3 ML and more.  

Geologist Peter Styles in his 2018 paper said: UK Seismic Traffic Light Thresholds postulate a cessation  and subsequent modification (or even halting) of fracking activities if an earthquake of magnitude 0.5 ML occurs. This size of event corresponds to a movement of only a few millimetres on a short fault segment of a larger fault.  Fracking and Historic Coal Mining: Their relationship and should they coincide?  by  Professor Emeritus Peter Styles

Finally, Thank you for signing the petition Coal Produces More Earthquakes than Fracking, So Lets Talk About Sellafield and the Mine, we will keep the petition open to raise awareness,  you can help spread the word by sharing.

Many Thanks!

Marianne Birkby

Giant Postcard Sent to the Planning Inquiry

This is a Giant Postcard from Cumbria sent to the Coal Mine Planning Inquiry Inspector.

Guest artist is internationally acclaimed Julian Cooper with ‘Towards the Sea, Scafell’ the painting is accompanied by a poem from Millom poet Norman Nicholson called ‘Windscale’ (now known as Sellafield) which would be just five miles from the coal mine.

Windscale By Millom Poet, Norman Nicholson 1914-1987

The toadstool towers infest the shore:

Stink-horns that propagate and spore

Wherever the wind blows.

Scafell looks down from the bracken band

And sees hell in a grain of sand,

And feels the canker itch between his toes.

This is a land where the dirt is clean

And poison pasture, quick and green,

And storm sky, bright and bare;

Where sewers flow with milk, and meat

is carved up for the fire to eat,

And children suffocate in God’s fresh air.

Artworks are multi disciplinary including video, music, painting and poetry.

The youngest artist is just 6 years old and the oldest is 85!

The postcard also features graphs from recent scientific reports showing how deep coal mining is a direct cause of man-made earthquakes – this is especially pertinent (but strangely ignored) given that the coal mine would be so close to the riskiest nuclear waste site in the world. More of the artworks can be seen here https://postcardfromcumbria.wordpress…

There is a petition to the Planning Inspector here:

Earthquakes From Coal Mining – Blind Spot

Dear Friends

Thank you for everything you have done and are doing to stop the Cumbrian Coal Mine.
Please help to PUT EARTHQUAKE AND “EXPECTED” SUBSIDENCE FRONT AND CENTRE of the Planning Inquiry as it quite rightly was in the Fracking Inquiries –
Coal mining is actually far worse than fracking (which is bad enough!) for induced seismicity and Sellafield is just five miles away. To not put earthquake and subsidence front and centre of this planning inquiry would be to allow the Secretary of State to turn a blind eye to arguably the most damning and dangerous aspects of this coal mine.  Currently earthquake and subsidence is not even included in things that the planning inspector will look at.  This is appalling and a far cry from the Fracking Inquiries which majored on earthquake risks.

Please sign this new petition to the Planning Inspector and lets make sure he takes account of this serious and much neglected issue

With Many Thanks
Radiation Free Lakeland


CALL OUT FOR ARTISTS who would like to join our Giant Postcard to the Planning Inspector . Poems, photographs and paintings include the beauty and wildlife of the West Coast of Cumbria. Guest artist is the internationally renowned Julian Cooper. As well as the beauty of West Cumbria, nuclear impacts of this coal mine which would be just five miles from Sellafield are also featured in the artworks. The public inquiry into the coal mine will commence on 7th September. It looks like it will be a virtual inquiry (and the details of how to attend are below).

We are going to put together a giant postcard of the artworks produced by our Postcards from Cumbria group to send to the Planning Inspector . The postcard will be a visual reminder of the beauty of Cumbria and what the coal mine could devastate. The coal mine could be a catalyst for a nuclear sacrifice zone. Induced seismicity in the area of the world’s riskiest nuclear waste site is inevitable should the Inspector recommend approval for a deep mine so close to Sellafield.

A Giant Postcard from Cumbria will be sent to the Inspector showing a diversity of amazing artworks, photographs and even poems produced by a group of artists of all ages, including professionals and schoolchildren . If you know of anyone who would like to join the Giant Postcard from Cumbria and have artworks included showing the beauty and character especially of the West Coast of Cumbria – please ask them to get in contact ( or to join the group .


Best Wishes

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole and Postcards from Cumbria

INFO on the forthcoming Planning Inquiry below from Cumbria County Council

Applicant’s name: West Cumbria Mining Ltd

Reference: APP/H0900/V/21/3271069I refer to the above planning application and the decision by the Secretary of State to call-in theproposal to be determined by Public Inquiry.The inquiry will commence on 7th September at 10am.

It will be conducted as a virtual event,live streamed on the Planning Inspectorate’s YouTube channel .The procedure to be followed is set out in the the Town and Country Planning (InquiriesProcedure) (England) Rules 2000, as amended. The Inspector is Stephen Normington.Please note that anyone wishing to view the live stream only does not need to pre-register with the Planning Inspectorate.Documents relating to the application can be viewed/downloaded on the Council website via: and more specifically to the Inquiry

Anyone wishing to participate more fully in the inquiry and take an active part in proceedings mustmake that interest known to the Planning Inspectorate Case Officer as soon as possible prior tothe Inquiry, either by email or telephone after reading the Inquiry Attendance Information set out below.The Case Officer contact at the Planning Inspectorate: Elizabeth Humphrey –; tel 0303 444 5384. Inquiry

Attendance Information

Before deciding whether to take an active part in the Inquiry, you need to think carefully about the

points you wish to make. All written submissions from application/call in stages will be taken into account by the Inspector and re-stating the same points won’t add any additional weight to them.If you feel that taking part in the Inquiry is right for you in whatever capacity, you can participate in a number of ways: To take part using video, participants will need to have access to Microsoft Teams (via an app orweb browser). This link gives further information on how to use this. Alternatively you can take part by telephone. Please note that joining by telephone to the 020 number that will be used will incur charges. You should check actual rates with your provider. you wish to just observe the event, you should make that clear in your response to the Case Officer. If you wish to take an active part in the proceedings, please make clear in your responseto the Case Officer whether you wish only to appear at the Inquiry and make a statement, or whether you would also wish to ask questions on particular topics.

If you want to take an active part but feel unable to for any reason, and/or the points you want to make are not covered in the evidence of others, consider whether someone else could raise them on your behalf.Registered participants in whatever capacity will receive individual joining instructions, providing details of any requirements, guidance and support whether joining by Teams or telephone. You should note that the event will be recorded by the Planning Inspectorate for training and quality assurance purposes.The decision will be published on

Yours faithfully

Mr Paul Haggin Manager Development Control and Sustainable Development – Cumbria County Council