Our Intrepid Jogger Goes 15K to Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole

Words and Images by The Jogger……

“I plan a marathon today. Just to dispel any suggestion that I am a fine weather protest jogger, today the rain is falling sideways. My Jog begins at the top of Linethwaite and the cycle track close to the main A595. I head towards Whitehaven on the track that runs across the head of Pow Beck Valley. 

This green valley would be the location of the Train Loading Facility. The view from the cycle track is shrouded in mist today. St Bees Priory is just visible on the misty horizon a few kilometres away. The Coal Yard would go on the left under Stanley Hill and be connected to the coal mine via a 3KM tunnel. Wainwright’s Coast to Coast would pass beneath the railway and sidings. What would the coast2coaster think when they descend from Bell House Farm to be greeted with railway sidings full of coal wagons?
I continue, downhill slightly, to Whitehaven. I have a good tailwind, my pace is that of Michael Johnson. I breeze into Mirehouse and on to Corkickle. My first restbite is close, I want to add a little bit of adornment to one of Whitehaven’s permanently fixed residents near Morrisons. He should have that mask covering his nose though.

I cut through the Georgian streets to the Market Place and add a little more adornment to one of the sailors standing there too. 

I want to get in further kilometres on this run so it’s off round the harbour, via the mermaid. She needs no adornment. Harbour was looking nice again even in the rain, came across a very pretty boat. 

Around the harbour for Wellington Pit and to look ar the End of an Era coal mine monument. When the artist created the work it was indeed the end of coal mining in Whitehaven. I don’t think it is a coincidence that the artist depicts one of the miners in a respirator, the coal mines of Whitehaven: and particularly Haig Pit, were prevalent to firedamp. 

I had visited the Haig Pit Museum on a few occasions and came away amazed at the courage of coal miners working in such dangerous conditions, descending that mine shaft and trundling in the coal wagon 4 miles to the coal face. If I was given the choice I would not be sending miners underground and risking their lives for coal.  Earlier this year 5 miners suffered burns to their airways and upper body in a gas explosion at a metallurgic coal mine in Queensland. Modern technology failed those miners that day.
My run has been mostly downhill up to this point but that is about to change. I run up the steps and ramp leading to the Candlestick Chimney; still venting gases from an old coal mine, and follow the railway brake to the top of the hill and Kells. past West Cumbria Mine HQ. 

The stiff south westerly that aided my arrival into Whitehaven is now blowing straight at me and my run is a snails pace as I battle up to Seacliffe and the coal mine site near Sandwith. 
I reach the top, no view to enjoy the lakeland fells just a blanket of grey. I am going to follow in the footsteps of Wainwright’s Coast 2 Coast at Sandwith to take me back to Pow Beck and Linethwaite. I wonder how much money his coast to coast has generated for our Whitehaven economy? A tourist asset that should be protected but now has the possibility of an ugly coal yard cutting across its path. 

The footsteps of Wainwright today are wet and muddy as I plod to Demesne Farm. I cross the St Bees Road heading for Bell House Farm and begin to drop down into Pow Beck.

The underground coal conveyor would brush past that bungalow in the background and into the new coal loading building at the bottom of the hill. Its a straight line from the planned coal mine through an ancient wood and down to this green space near Linethwaite. My descent is tricky, the grass slippy but I manage to stay upright. 

I stand to visualise what this place would be like if the mine gets the go ahead. They are to extend the cattle arch for the Coast to Coast path. The railway line is two metres above me. 

Where I am stood would need 1000s of tonnes of rubble and hardcore stretching for 1km down the valley to enlarge the embankment wide enough for two railway sidings. Most of the field pictured above would disappear under the hardcore base they intend to dump here. The loading facility would be housed in a timber clad structure to ‘fit in’ with the area, but I can’t see how a large building and dozens of coal wagons in sidings fits into this pretty place.

The run is nearly done, as I continue under the bridge in Wainwrights footsteps across the fields back to Linethwaite. The going is slow, the field swamped; as it often does in wet weather. I splish splosh to a track that leads back to my starting point, a welcomed piece of gravel and tarmac and just one small hill to ascend and I have completed my circuit. 15KM I am well chuffed with myself, I don’t think I have run as far in my life. Carry on like that and I shall be as strong as those miners back in their day. Mining is our heritage not the future.

Keep the coal in the hole”

Words and Pictures by The Jogger

A Morning Jog

We have permission to publish the following photo journal of a morning jog. The route is through the Whitehaven area past the proposed coal mine.

“It was a lovely morning for my run. The sun rises on another day. Two thirds of Copeland Borough are in the national park, a World Heritage Site. How disappointing that the remaining third has a coal mine; and a nuclear storage facility.

Our local MP Trudy Harrisons tells us that the mining company has a sound business plan. I think the Trojan Horse scenario is a strong possibility. A GDF is a little way off, plenty of time for a private company to invest in a coal mine and create a big cavern inshore. Coal mining and nuclear disposal advisory group in cahoots it seems.

My run takes me past the new housing estates opposite the mine site. I work with  a couple of people here, they are not too bothered about the mine, both said that we need jobs. This is quite true, we need jobs but we are not unique, lots of areas are crying out for jobs. There are more people employed than unemployed in Whitehaven. If they build this mine I fear those new build houses won’t be such an investment, who wants to live next to a coal mine.

I cut across the old Marchon Chemical works to pick up the coastal path to take me to Whitehaven Harbour. Haig Pit is the HQ for West Cumbria Mining. Thay have taken over the mining museum, fascinating I have visited on three occasions before it closed a few years ago. You came away in awe of those miners. Did you know the pithead lift operator had to count the revolution on a clockwork wheel to control the descent of the lift cage. Mess it up and the cage and miners would be crushed as it hit the bottom. Every so often they had to recalibrate the wheel to compensate for the stretch in the steel cable. If it opens again pay a visit. Coal mining is our heritage not the future.

Down hill now towards our harbour and the candlestick vent chimney. The new coal mine vent, to be situated near Sandwith won’t be as elaborate. Perhaps just like the candlestick they will let it vent mine gases (methane).

The only thing I agree with in WCM’s new proposal is their acknowledgement that methane is the most potent greenhouse gas. They are quite happy to vent this into the atmosphere though and at a later date put some methane capture in place to use as an energy source; more pollution but still only less than 1% of the UK (England, Scotland, Wales & Northern Ireland; population 67,886,000) carbon budget.

Round the harbour, the water is looking really clean now that they have introduced a floating rubbish collector. Past the mermaid, she is my favourite and I stop a moment to watch a couple of coast to coast cyclists dip their bike wheels. Their route will take them across the head of the Pow Beck Valley, location of the train loading facility. It is peaceful and green now, an uninterrupted view down the valley with St,Bees Priory standing proud, It’s a lovely view from the cycle track.

The coast to coast proper drops into Pow Beck They are to build an underpass for walkers. I can’t see the appeal of seeing dozens of coal wagons in this green valley, Not all the coal mine is to be built on an old industrial site. So this is how Cumbria protects its tourist assets, lets dig coal, Shameful.

The run takes a turn for the worse, back to my starting point at Seacliffe. It’s all uphill now, those steps are so steep they could be ladders. “

Letter of Objection from Local Resident – Please Write, Write Write and Say NO! to the First Deep Coal Mine in Decades

Pow Beck photo

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.


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.

Yours sincerely,

Martin J Kendall



Workington says NO to New Coal Mine Under Irish Sea

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole Workington 5.1.19.jpg

On Saturday 5th January Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole were joined by Cumbrian folk from Extinction Rebellion and the Green Party.  We spoke to dozens of shoppers in Workington at the market place and the verdict was a big NO to the first deep coal mine in the UK for over 30 years.

The word on the street is in direct contrast to the slick PR put out by the developers West Cumbria Mining and repeated verbatim by most media including the BBC (our complaint to the BBC is awaiting a reply)

We spoke to ordinary folk including miners who were adamant that there should not be a return to coal mining on the West Coast of Cumbria.  The reasons are many – the water situation in West Cumbria is already stressed, the mine would impact hydrology, would produce 175 million tonnes of CO2, the possibility of seabed collapse and earth movement is unthinkable so near to Sellafield….

Thank you to all the folk we spoke to.  Only one person thought the jobs were worth the damage  (just 500 jobs proposed for the mine – similar to a supermarket depot and no where near the jobs in renewables and energy efficiency technologies)


So Workington says No.

What are folk saying who live near 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.”

Please write your own letter to CCC quoting Planning reference 4/17/9007 Woodhouse Colliery

This plan is scheduled to be decided upon in Kendal by the Development Control Committee at the County Offices on FEB 22nd.  Not much time!  Please write to Cumbria County Council,s Development Control Committee and let them know you OBJECT. You can also ask to speak at the Meeting in Kendal – the more speakers the better chance we have of stopping the plan.

 Members of the Committee http://councilportal.cumbria.gov.uk/mgCommitteeDetails.aspx?ID=124

People also outside Cumbria can both object and speak if they register with nicola.harrison@cumbria.gov.uk

To Find the Planning Documents

You can insert insert application reference 4/17/9007 in Cumbria County Council’s search box  – and then click on the  “Documents” link on the right hand side.

NOTE The application reference  is 4/17/9007, West Cumbria Mining, Woodhouse Colliery. Written submissions can be sent to Jackie Currie, Cumbria County Council Development Control Team, County Offices, Busher Walk,  Kendal, Cumbria LA9 4RQ or via mail at developmentcontrol@cumbria.gov.uk.  or jackie.currie@cumbria.gov.uk

There is also an online petition.