Here is an excellent letter of objection from Martin – a resident living close to the proposed coal mine and associated infrastructure.
Please use Martin’s letter below as inspiration for your own letters of objection to Cumbria County Council (write before the 15th June) – also ask to speak at the meeting on 8th July – There is more information here.
PLANNING REFERENCE: 4/17/9007
I object to the building of the Wood House Colliery and the Train Load Facility (TLF), Pow Beck.
Cumbria’s Statutory Development Plan (SDP)-Cumbria Minerals & Waste Local Plan; POLICY SP15 Environmental Assets. “Protect, maintaintain and enhance people’s overall quality of life and the natural, historic and other distinctive features that contribute to the environment of Cumbria and to the character of its landscapes and places”
The leading paragraph of the same SDP reads “…It will always work proactively with applicants to find solutions that mean that proposals can be approved wherever possible, and to secure development that improves economic, social and environmental conditions in the area.”
In my opinion the new mine does not meet those three criteria. The mine won’t be successful; environmental pressures will increase; coke is going to be replaced; other coking coal producers from Russia and Poland are already supplying Europe’s steel industry. As a result there are no economic or social gains. Pollution (air, water, noise, light, environmental) to the local area will be significant and as a consequence our quality of life will be affected.
With regard to greenhouse gasses (GHG), West Cumbria Mining (WCM) made it clear they dig out the coal. The GHG created from exporting the coal and the burning of the coal has nothing to do with them. Another fossil fuel company that absolves itself from responsibility. Yet when it comes to creating an argument they are more than willing to express the saving in GHG from bulk cargo ships from across the Atlantic and the train miles of American coal to make comparisons with their own small coal mine.
In your own policy DC13 criteria for Energy minerals, part c. “the impacts of the development have been considered in relation to impact on climate change;”
In WCM planning statement (5.3.6) “The determination as to whether an impact is `unacceptable` inevitably involves a degree of judgement on the part of the decision maker” It is my opinion, the environmental impact of this Cumbrian coal is unacceptable in today’s global warming crisis and should and can be rejected in compliance with your own planning documents, particularly the impact Cumbrian coal will have on the environment.
May I also draw your attention to matters which could be of specific interest to committee.
- Presently we have the peaceful enjoyment of our home here in High Walton, near St Bees. The air is clean, the valley beautiful and quiet. I have the pleasure of enjoying the first small section of Wainwright’s coast to coast on my doorstep. A tourist asset that you should protect. I am appalled that Cumbria County Council (CCC) has allowed this green space in Pow Beck to come under threat with a large coal yard.
- West Cumbria Mining’s preferred freight operator does use some modern trains in its fleet, trains that will pull 21 coal wagons using diesel engine power. The facts are; a train over 400 metres long; carrying +1500 tonnes; emitting 25.3g CO2e per tonne km (1). Those wagons will need shunting to sidings. When diesel engines apply pulling power they emit plumes of diesel smoke. What are those pollution levels for six daily trains + 126 coal wagons when Frieghtliner begins shunting wagons here in Pow Beck?
- The building may be high tech and aesthetic; but in my opinion still noisy in the quiet areas of Pow Beck and Seacliffe. I can’t imagine the Fan House being too quiet. 126 Coal wagons on sidings are hardly inconspicuous in our green landscape. More rhetoric at the expense of local residents. Our environmental assets will change for the worse.
- Methane capture during coal crushing processing to provide gas energy (5.4.54). Does the mine capture all this methane and utilize it?
Methane is “…reduced and mitigated…” “…with no atmospheric impact…” (P9: Para 29). Burning Methane produces C02; but this won’t happen until the fifth year of operation when the methane capture plant comes on line apparently. WCM planning statement (page 8-S18) “…methane and utilisation plant will potentially eliminate the majority of fugitive methane emissions”. Also, GHG surveyor remarks about methane capture with a statement that reads “…potentially eliminate fugitive emissions…” (P59: para 9.4). So WCM doesn’t actually know how much Methane will vent into the atmosphere, a number between 2m3 and 6m3 per tonne of coal. That seems quite a difference.
- My understanding is that the fan house sucks out air/gases from the mine and as a result clean air is drawn into the mine, diluting gases to safe non-combustible levels within the mine. What is not clear to me is where those gases are vented and captured. Mined coal constantly gives off methane does it not.
- GHG reports say the mine operation pollution is less than 1% of the UK’s carbon budget. So this small mine will emit less than 1% of the whole of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland with all its cities, transport, power generation and people, just to put in some perspective. This tiny spot in Cumbria will add less than 1% to the UKs carbon budget(CB). According to the Government’s own advisory body the UK is not going to meet its targets for the next two CB (2), The implication is that the 2032 budget will have to be even more stringent and the government more decisive to keep on track for 2050 net zero. Indeed the GHG report states (Para 7,13) “Emissions from this Proposed Development are therefore likely to become significant without an emissions reduction strategy” The GHC report mentions (para 9,4) the assumed operation of methane capture & utilisation plant in 5th year of operation. so obviously under development. Is the technology, the burning of methane and offsetting going to be good enough to keep the mines emissions below 1%?
- WCM states that “This substitution of imported coal will result in significant carbon dioxide emissions savings from the shipping…” (Para 4.2.13) At maximum mine production, how many bulk cargo ships will it need to bring the equivalent 2.78million tonnes of coking coal to Europe from America per annum? Seven maybe each carrying 400,000 tonnes?
Dr. Neil Bristow’s letter says “WCM’s place in the global market is small”. Conversely the emission saved by importing from abroad (America) will also be small. In my opinion the saving of seven Atlantic crossings is small in comparisons to the 300 millions tonnes globally. Lets not forget also that Europe uses coking coal from Russia and Poland. The Polish coal news article was an interesting read (3). European steel may source more coking coal from there.
- WCM planning application did not give examples of companies using hydrogen for greening steel. In Germany they closed all their deep coal mines and import coking coal. Their economy and steel industry is much larger than the UKs. Already the Germans (Austrian and Swedish also ) have invested in hydrogen plants to produce the gas in abundance and replace coal; most notably ThyssenKrupp(4) and Voestalpine(5) . Clearly these two companies will be producing greener steel in the not too distant future and unburden themselves of coking coal dependency. Spending £65 million creating their hydrogen plant sounds like a pretty serious investment to me.
- I am not convinced by WCM’s argument on weathering either. The coal suppliers and steel makers have been dealing with weathering for years. I doubt there is little advantage to having another small supplier nearby? WCM coal, like all the other coal heading for Rotterdam, will be piled on the quayside along with American, Russian, Polish, Australian and whoever else, ready to be distributed to Steelworks. Sure the coal has a `shelf life`, but this little coal mine won’t keep the furnaces of Europe going for long.
- WCM talks about the coal quality degrading once mined and transported yet In their new application it seems they are requesting a “relaxation” (Welsh Mining Forum-GB, 13th May 2020 @ 05:41pm)(6) to their metallurgical coal definition, , in effect manufacturing a slightly lower quality coal. Also (Planning Statement page 51) Why the removal of a condition that states “the coal is to be used for steel manufacturing only” This smacks of hypocrisy from WCM in my opinion or is that typo error there?
- In my first letter of objection last year I asked you to refuse this planning application. I am asking again to turn down this coal mine. Coal is not an asset anymore, the planet is warming up and the weather system is more extreme. Fossils fuels have to stay in the ground if the countries that signed up to the Paris Agreement want to meet those global warming targets,
- In your previous planning application the committee were under the impression that the mine is broadly carbon neutral. A fact denied by WCM and not substantiated by CCC. The mine is not broadly carbon neutral, you are misleading the general public. Therefore, I do not believe the rhetoric from the mine company or their expert; who can’t get his sums right (page 25, para 8) 2.78mt is not 0.26% of 300mt.
Local people’s environment is not enhanced in any way. Cumbrian people living beside the mine and the roads and railway that are used by the mine are in for big changes to their environment; There will be more pollution from diesel engines and the mine itself. The roads will be busier at rush hour; More light and noise pollution, and just because it is within regulation limits, it will still be intrusive.
- I read this recently and it has many interesting points.
“…Rapidly phasing out fossil fuels is critical to address the climate crisis because fossil fuels are the biggest driver of the climate crisis. Reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change based on the work of thousands of scientists have confirmed there are no scenarios in which we both keep digging out fossil fuels and keep the world from a climate disaster. We must act now, and decisively, to switch to alternative sources of energy”. NEW York Times” (7).
- Global warming does not stop at Scafell Pike(8), Keep the coal in the ground and do Whitehaven, Cumbria and the planet a favour. Turn down this coal mine by putting your own policy in action and stand by your policy statement SP15 Environmental Assets.
I am happy to attend your committee meeting, Wednesday 8th July 2020 to elaborate on any of the issues I have raised. Please email me, in the first instance if you would like me to attend.
Martin J Kendall