How To Write to Cumbria County Council and tell them to Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole

white and black moon with black skies and body of water photography during night time
Irish Sea – the scene of the first deep coal mine in the UK in 30 years?   (Photo by GEORGE DESIPRIS on Pexels.com)

The consultation period ends on January 28th,  Cumbria County Council will still accept letters after this time but the sooner you write the better.

Send your email now to Cumbria County Council at developmentcontrol@cumbria.gov.uk.

Please also ask if you can speak at the meeting on the 22nd February – the more folk who write, speak and make a noise against this plan the better chance we have of stopping it.

Please remember to include the planning application reference number PL\1689\05 (4/17/9007) and your postcode in the subject.

The main points to make are

  • This  coal mine proposal flies in the face of Cumbria County Council’s Carbon Reduction Plan and Climate Local programme.
  • The mine workings would extend to within 8km of Sellafield, this would increase the risk of earth tremors and worse.
  • Collapse of the sea bed as a consequence of mining under the Irish Sea would resuspend radioactive particles from decades of Sellafield reprocessing.

 

Here below is an excellent letter from Sam who is a member of Radiation Free Lakeland.  Feel free to use this as inspiration to write your own letter of objection.  It doesn’t need to be long – just a sentence or a paragraph or two.

To Rachel Brophy, Development Control, Cumbria County Council

Jan 8th 2019

WOODHOUSE COLLIERY, APPLICATION 4/17/9007

In response to the current consultation I wish to make the following comments regarding the revised Environmental Statement from West Cumbria Mining [WCM]. This letter is additional to my submission of Feb 6th 2018.

I am writing to raise serious concerns concerning climate change, subsidence, earth tremors and the potential to trigger a major nuclear emergency at Sellafield.

I wish to OBJECT to the application.

I wish to raise four major grounds on which this application must be firmly rejected.

  1. The 2008 Climate Change Act

The revised Environmental Statement fails completely to address the UK Government’s commitments to carbon reduction within the 2008 Climate Change Act and the increasingly stringent restrictions regarding the extraction and burning of fossil fuels.

WCM state that at full annual production the mine will extract: 2.43 million tonnes of metallurgical coal; 350,000 tonnes of lower grade ‘middlings’ coal; and 150,000 tonnes of rock overburden (reject).    (annually!)

WCM continue to refer to ‘metallurgical’ coal as if this is in no way related to the coal used in energy generation.   The simple facts of physics are that all coal produces CO2 when burned for whatever purpose.

WCM seem to be completely unaware of the global urgency of reducing carbon emissions. The proposal to open a new coal mine in our current precarious climate change situation is completely counter to Government policy.

  1. Subsidence, earth tremors and nuclear accident/emergency.

I have written to The Office for Nuclear Regulation [ONR] regarding the application.   In response to my letter they state –

‘ONR ask to be consulted on developments within the off-site emergency planning area around the Sellafield site, which extends approximately 6.1 – 7.4 km from the site centrepoint (see http://www.onr.org.uk/depz.htm for further details).  We would not expect Cumbria County Council to consult us regarding developments outside this zone, and I can confirm that we have not been consulted.’

map WCm.jpg

This ONR map shows the offsite emergency planning zone around Sellafield.   This shows the area where planning consultation with ONR is required.

The ONR state that Woodhouse Colliery would be approx. 10 km from Sellafield. WCM state the mine would reach within 8km of Sellafield. Which is correct? Surely it is essential to know exactly what the distance may be.

Even more crucially – this is not a mere surface development – the WCM application concerns undersea mining in an area known to be heavily faulted.

The nature of underground earth tremors and minor quakes is that they travel in unpredictable ways through the rock. Earth tremors have no regard for the 7.4 km exclusion zone drawn on the map.

The geology that WCM plans to mine is completely connected to the geology underneath Sellafield. That the mine would be outside the formal ONR planning zone by up to 4km is completely irrelevant given the unpredictable nature of earth movements.

Any earth tremor caused by mining or subsidence would have catastrophic effects in terms of a nuclear emergency bringing massive danger to life over a vast area.

  1. Potential collapse of the mine.

The ONR state – ‘The nature of the proposed mine (pillar and room) is one that is not designed to collapse at any point in the future, unlike for example long wall mining.   Even in the highly unlikely event of a collapse, the nature of any ensuing earth tremors would be limited to very low levels.  These levels would not be felt by persons on the Sellafield site and would not disrupt structures, systems and components important to safety on the site. ‘

This is a very worrying response. Firstly ONR states that they believe that the mine is not designed to collapse – then they state that if it did so it would not affect nuclear safety.

IMG_3707.png

‘Pillar and Room’ mines can and do collapse.

Crandall Canyon Accident Investigation
Summary and Conclusions On August 6, 2007, six miners were killed in a catastrophic coal outburst when roof-supporting pillars failed and violently ejected coal over a half-mile area. Ten days later, two mine employees and an MSHA inspector perished in a coal outburst during rescue efforts.

https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2018/12/30/murray-energys-crandall-canyon-coal-mine-disaster-9-deaths/?fbclid=IwAR3O7nI2ICJCp9qFoMNvPTF3noiDeGly_rGtL6XaRmsJLVt0gXmEiqCc_BA

In the event of a mine collapse at Woodhouse the potential for injury and death would reach well beyond the mine shaft itself. Radioactive accidents at Sellafield could affect much of the UK and neighbouring nations.

There is a major inconsistency here as the ONR believe the mining process to be ‘pillar and room’ while the WCM website states –

‘Run-out and Pocket extraction will be the chosen mining method as this is a proven, highly versatile coal mining method that takes advantage of advancements in mining technology to mitigate risks associated with the Cumbrian Coal fields.’

How can this application possibly be agreed given that WCM and the ONR are clearly not operating on the same basis regarding the basic mining method and associated risks?

It is telling that WCM themselves are acknowledging the very real risks of the Cumbrian coal fields and are seeking to ‘mitigate’ them.

This is a glaring inconsistency and indicative of the wrong footed nature of this entire application.

What Nuclear Emergency Plans are in place by the County Council should tremors damage the containment vessels at Sellafield?

  1. Formal assessments of likely subsidence damage have proved to be very wrong

There are big lessons to be learned from the fracking industry at home and abroad.

Groningen in the Netherlands is Europe’s biggest gas field. The Netherlands Government has recently decided to close it down leaving billions of euros of gas in the ground. So far 80,000 homes have been damaged, families are living in sheds and schools are closed.

In the UK the Governments Oil and Gas Authority [OGA] has allowed fracking in Lancashire to proceed with the ‘traffic light’ system of monitoring tremors. Since fracking recommenced in autumn 2018 there have been over 30 Lancashire quakes recorded by the British Geological Society.     Many of these quakes causing shut down of production.   The UK OGA has said – ‘it is rare for damages, even cosmetic ones, to occur at magnitudes of less than 4.’

The truly frightening aspect of this is that ALL of the Groningen quakes measured less than 4. The Netherlands Government had insisted that they were harmless, yet the damage stands at 8 billion euros so far and the closure of the industry.

Groningen had few geological faults or earth tremors before the extraction began.   West Cumbria has a history of both faults and of tremors.

https://www.channel4.com/news/why-the-dutch-are-ditching-gas-extraction

 

CONCLUSION

The nature of subsidence and earth tremors is by nature unpredictable.

What is certain is that this constitutes a very real potential.

The damage caused in the Netherlands by allegedly ‘safe’ levels of tremor would result in radioactive mayhem were such tremors to occur in West Cumbria where we have Europe’s largest collection of deadly nuclear waste.

This potential risk of a nuclear accident/emergency is simply too great a risk.

There is no way that Cumbria County Council can possibly assure the public safety of this proposed mine and the application must be firmly rejected.

 

Sam Moisha

Member of Radiation Free Lakeland

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#DivestParliament Congratulations, Thank You and a Request to the Irish Parliament

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photo credit Climate Action

Fantastic news! Ireland is on course to become the first country in the world to divest from fossil fuel assets. The Fossil Fuel Divestment Bill brought by Irish Parliamentarian Thomas Pringle is set to become law by the end of the year.

I have sent a letter to the Irish Government congratulating them on backing the Bill and asking them to keep the Irish Sea safe from the plan for a coal mine deep underneath the fragile and complex Irish Sea bed.

Please do send them your own letter of congratulations and request that the Irish Parliament do all they can to stop this crazy plan for a coal mine under the Irish Sea.

email the Irish Parliament at     info@oireachtas.ie

Dear Houses of the Oireachtas

Planning Application 4/17/9007 –

Woodhouse Mine

First Deep Coal Mine in 30 Years and it is under the Irish Sea!

Thank you so much for backing the Fossil Fuel Divestment Bill brought by Irish Parliamentarian Thomas Pringle. For Ireland to be the world’s first country ever to divest public money from fossil fuel is truly a great achievement and something wonderful to celebrate.

It is therefore a terrible irony that in the same summer that Ireland pledges to divest from Fossil Fuel , the Irish Sea is being primed to become host to the first new deep coal mine (Woodhouse Mine) in the UK for 30 years. The plan is due to be heard by Cumbria County Council on August 23rd 2018.

There are many reasons to oppose this deep coking coal mine under the Irish Sea off St Bees on the Cumbrian Coast.

Climate

The developers, West Cumbria Mining, imply that coal used in steelmaking does not produce CO2 emissions. This is clearly not the case. WCM even claim to be reducing CO2 emissions compared to importing steel making coal from the USA.  However the fact that the plan is to export most of the coal produced makes a nonsense of this claim. The energy used in running the mine itself and transport, the burning of the lower class of coal and the burning of the higher class coal in steelmaking is staggering. At a production rate of 2.8Mt/year the produced coal would generate 1.24Mt CO2. This is an Alice in Wonderland plan in many ways as there is rapid innovation in steel making processes to eliminate the fossil fuel component of steel, making coking coal redundant.

 Proximity to Sellafield

At just 8km away from Sellafield (even nearer to the proposed new nuclear reactors at ‘Moorside’) this development is ridiculously near to over 140 tons of plutonium.   Increased tremors and quakes resulting from mining is well documented The potential for man-made tremors at the Sellafield site is too awful to contemplate. There are~20 large holding tanks at Sellafield containing thousands of litres of extremely radiotoxic fission products.”

Sea Bed Subsidence and Resuspension of Radioactive Wastes from the Irish Sea Bed

The North Western Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority have submitted to Cumbria County Council that

“Offshore Subsidence – resuspension and dispersal of radioactive contaminants. The documentation has confirmed to NWIFCA that a risk of subsidence exists and therefore there remains an overwhelming concern over the potential for disturbance and resuspension of radioactive contaminants and sediments.

Local campaigners Radiation Free Lakeland have recently sampled the beaches near Sellafield (Sellafield stops monitoring and retrieval of radioactive particles over the summer in order not to frighten beach users).  A full one third of all random samples were found to contain cesium and americium in levels above that safe for human health. Any increase in radioactive particles being resuspended and brought back on the waves of the Irish Sea to Cumbrian and Irish shorelines is to be avoided.

I am writing to thank you on behalf of Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole for divesting from fossil fuels.

And…

It is a Big ask but I would like to ask that you protect the Irish Sea (and so much more) by opposing the Irish Sea deep coal mine on behalf of Ireland.

With many thanks

Marianne Birkby

On behalf of Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole

 https://keepcumbriancoalinthehole.wordpress.com/

Briefing Note from Radiation Free Lakeland on the Coal Mine Plan

Poster small

All Councillors on the Committee making the decision have been sent the following Briefing Note from Radiation Free Lakeland.  Please do use this as an inspiration for your own objections to the first deep coal mine in the UK for 30 years.  The planning meeting has been deferred (fourth time this!)  until May 30th so more time to get your fingers dancing on the keyboards, get those pens out, get on the phone to Councillors and Object, Object Object!!! Councillor Details here

 

BRIEFING NOTE FROM RADIATION FREE LAKELAND

WEST CUMBRIA MINING PROPOSAL Ref No: 4/17/9007

 Part 1

  • Wildlife
  • Health
  • Seismic Activity and Sellafield

Part 2

  • Climate
  • Planning
  • Employment

 Part 1

 WILDLIFE

The West Cumbria Mining proposal would have adverse impacts on designated sites of national and international importance

Minewater Discharge and The Cumbria Coast Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ)

The National Trust have said: “We are particularly concerned in regard to the potential impact upon the wider marine and coastal environment of the discharge of water into the sea, which has been pumped from the flooded anhydrite mine.” RSPB have also noted concerns regarding potential pollution of the Marine Conservation Zone.

Seismic impacts on St Bees Head Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)

West Cumbria Mining conclude that “minor seismic events will be significant below a magnitude 3 event, and any event which may occur as a result of mining activities will not cause damage to people, property or the natural environment” (Page 75 of the WCM Addendum: Seismicity). . The RSPB in their submission note that “We consider it imperative that the Council deploy a suitable level of expertise to ensure that the additional information provided by the applicant provides a robust assessment of the potential for seismic events – both in magnitude and frequency – to have an adverse effect upon designated sites listed above. In particular, upon the notified features of the SSSI – which include geological features and isolated breeding bird colonies. It should be noted that the SSSI supports England’s only breeding black guillemot – which are small in number and already vulnerable to stochastic events.”

Noise Disturbance, Dust, Vibrations etc.

The development has the potential to have an adverse effect upon the St Bees Head SSSI through disturbance to breeding birds during excavations and coal processing. Notwithstanding the developers assurances the RSPB state “In our previous response, we considered that there was insufficient evidence to be able to evaluate the potential for impacts upon the SSSI, nor the efficacy of the proposed mitigation. In particular, the noise assessment detailed in Chapter 14 does not make the link between the development and any ecological receptors. We note that no further evidence has been presented by the applicant in this regard. In summary, the RSPB’s opinion is unchanged – in that insufficient information has been submitted by the applicant to allow a robust assessment of the potential ecological impacts of this proposal.”

Solway Firth European Designated Site (Natura 2000)Precaution must be adopted when considering potential impacts from a development adjacent (1.5km) to an internationally recognised marine environment

  • HEALTH

The old Marchon Chemical plant and Anhydrite mine that fed it are key to the WCM application. As referenced above, The anhydrite mine would need to be dewatered. This would exacerbate the previous legacy operations which are still having a “significant” impact on health.

“There is also a significant radiological impact due to the legacy of past discharges of radionuclides from non-nuclear industrial activity that also occur naturally in the environment. This includes radionuclides discharged from the former phosphate processing plant at Whitehaven, and so monitoring is carried out near this site.” Radioactivity in Food and the Environment 2016. https://www.food.gov.uk/sites/default/files/report2016_0.pdf

These cumulative assaults on West Cumbrian health would be additional to well documented climate change health impacts and the intolerable danger that this mine would represent to the safe stewardship of Sellafield

  • SEISMIC ACTIVITY AND SELLAFIELD

At just 8km away from Sellafield (even nearer to Moorside) according to West Cumbria Mining this development is ridiculously near to over 140 tons of plutonium.   Increased tremors and quakes resulting from mining is well documented The potential for man-made tremors at the Sellafield site is too awful to contemplate.

There are~20 large holding tanks at Sellafield containing thousands of litres of extremely radiotoxic fission products.”

Nuclear Management Partners, stated in 2012: “There is a mass of very hazardous [nuclear] waste onsite in storage conditions that are extraordinarily vulnerable.

The National Audit Office (NAO) stated these tanks pose “significant risks to people and the environment”. These dangerous tanks have also been the subject of repeated complaints from Ireland and Norway who fear their countries could be contaminated if explosions or fires were to occur.

  • The North Western Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority have submitted to Cumbria County Council that

“Offshore Subsidence – resuspension and dispersal of radioactive contaminants. The documentation has confirmed to NWIFCA that a risk of subsidence exists and therefore there remains an overwhelming concern over the potential for disturbance and resuspension of radioactive contaminants and sediments.

Radiation Free Lakeland agree and would add that this risk of subsidence of the seabed would enable the resuspension of decades worth of radioactive and chemical contaminants not only from Sellafield but also from the firing of depleted uranium shells into the Irish Sea and the Solway Firth.   http://theseacannotbedepleted.net/

PART 2

CLIMATE and PLANNING

 

The WCM proposal fails to quantify the overall carbon emissions resulting from it’s activity. It also fails to address the climate impact of its activity. The application is clearly incompatible with national and international climate change policy and legislation as summarised below.

  • The UK is signatory to the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement committing us to the rapid phase-out of fossil fuels.

 

  • The UK is working to the 2008 Climate Change Act committing us to a legally binding 80% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050. The UK will phase out coal for electricity generation by 2025.   The proposed 50 year lifespan of the mine goes well beyond the UKs existing commitment to bring carbon emissions nationally to zero. When the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change publishes their latest report later in 2018 it is acknowledged that UK legislation will need yet further strengthening to meet our international carbon reduction commitments.

 

  • The National Planning Policy Framework states –

 

Para 93 ‘“Planning plays a key role in helping to shape places to secure radical reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, minimising vulnerability and providing resilience to the impacts of climate change and supporting the delivery of renewable and low carbon energy and associated infrastructure. This is central to the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development”

Para 149. ‘Permission should not be given for the extraction of coal unless the proposal is environmentally acceptable, or can be made so by planning conditions or obligations; or if not, it provides national, local or community benefits which clearly outweigh the likely impacts to justify the grant of planning permission.’

 

  • The proposed Woodhouse Colliery would produce combined CO2 from the methane emissions of the mine; the energy used in running the mine itself and transport; the burning of the lower class of coal and the burning of the higher class coal in steelmaking. At a production rate of 2.8Mt/year the produced coal would generate 1.24Mt CO2.

 

  • The WCM application seems to imply that coal used in steelmaking does not produce CO2 emissions. This is clearly not the case. WCM even claim to be reducing CO2 emissions compared to importing coal from the USA.     Some of the CO2 would be produced in Cumbria and some at the locations of steelmaking where the coal is to be exported.   Given that all countries are equally bound by the Paris Agreement and equally committed to reducing fossil fuel use – it is highly unlikely that steel manufacturers will be seeking to import Cumbrian coal.   There is rapid innovation in steel making processes to eliminate the fossil fuel component and the unknown impact of Brexit.

 

 

  • The FOE submission July 2017 states – ‘Despite the applicant’s stated intentions for the use of coke coal, the proposal is nonetheless incompatible with recent government announcements and consultations linked to coal phase-out. Its use within ore extraction and steel making will inevitably lead to its being burnt and CO2 release. . . . . coal is on the way out and applications for its extraction are incompatible with government’s strategic approach which aims to reduce its well documented contribution to climate change.’

 

  • FOE also state in Oct 2017 – ‘Our view is that the applicants have failed to demonstrate the scheme’s ability to comply with UK carbon budgets and to satisfy Schedule 4 of the 2011 EIA regulations (re consideration of significant impacts on…” climatic factors”)’

 

 

  • There are also planning issues relating to carbon, climate, subsidence and pollution issues which relate to other nations within and outwith the UK and the necessary consultation with such nations.

 

EMPLOYMENT

The NPPF statement on achieving sustainable development states –

‘International and national bodies have set out broad principles of sustainable development. Resolution 42/187 of the United Nations General Assembly defined sustainable development as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. The UK Sustainable Development Strategy Securing the Future set out five ‘guiding principles’ of sustainable development: living within the planet’s environmental limits; ensuring a strong, healthy and just society; achieving a sustainable economy; promoting good governance; and using sound science responsibly.’

 

The people of West Cumbria need employment opportunities to be sustainable in all senses – both economically and in terms of low carbon.

In addition to failing to provide a sustainable environment – the WCM application clearly fails to provide both a sustainable economy or sustainable employment.   There can be no jobs, economic growth or prosperity when the fossil fuel products are no longer viable.

 

One model for the creation of sustainable local economies is that of CLES which is gaining great interest – and action – among various Local Authorities in the North West and beyond. ‘ CLES is the UK’s leading, independent think and do tank realising progressive economics for people and place. Our aim is to achieve social justice, good local economies and effective public services for everyone, everywhere.

 

Additional Info

Coal Mining Causes Earthquakes – National Geographic

https://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/01/070103-mine-quake_2.html

 

Fisheries and Conservation Authority Concerns: Irish Sea Subsidence and Resuspension of Radionuclides

https://keepcumbriancoalinthehole.wordpress.com/2018/02/26/fisheries-and-conservation-authority-concerns-irish-sea-subsidence-and-resuspension-of-radionuclides/

 

Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the Steel Industry

https://link.springer.com/article/10.3103/S0967091215090107

 

World Steel Figures in 2017

https://www.worldsteel.org/media-centre/press-releases/2017/world-steel-in-figures-2017.html

 

Sweden aims for first place in carbon free steel race

https://www.thefifthestate.com.au/innovation/building-construction/sweden-aims-for-first-place-in-carbon-free-steel-race

 

Beginners Guide to Fossil Fuel Divestment

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jun/23/a-beginners-guide-to-fossil-fuel-divestment

 

Progressive Economics for people and place

https://cles.org.uk

 

The Preston Model

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jan/31/preston-hit-rock-bottom-took-back-control

Two Months to Stop the Cumbrian Coal Mine!

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 “Greenpeace would be opposed to a new coal mine for the same reason we’re opposed to fracking. We already know that there is too much fossil fuel available than we can afford to burn Therefore we should not be seeking out more.” Doug Parr Greenpeace UK

MANY THANKS to everyone who has written to oppose the coal mine.  We now have a period of time to build a campaign against this plan “The earliest Committee the application could be presented to is the 20 September 2017. Representations received after the report has been finalised (usually 10 days before the Committee meeting) will be verbally reported to the Committee on the day of the meeting.”

People and groups can write to Cumbria County Council to ask to speak against the plan and the more who do this the better chance we have of stopping the first coal mine in the UK in 30 years!

Correspondence below with Cumbria County Council from Keep Cumbria Coal in the Hole

Dear Ms Birkby

Acknowledgement of Representation on Planning Application Ref. 4/17/9007

Location:    Pow Beck Valley and area from Marchon Site to St Bees Coast, Cumbria 

Proposal:    Development of an existing surface mine entrance for a new underground metallurgical coal mine and associated surface development including: coal storage and processing buildings; access road; security fencing; lighting; outfall to sea; surface water management system; landscaping; at the former Marchon site (High Road) Whitehaven; interconnecting underground coal conveyor to a new coal loading and railway siding to the Cumbria Coast Railway Line, with adjoining office/welfare facilities; extension of railway under pass; security fencing; lighting; landscaping; construction of a temporary development compound and associated permanent service access off Mirehouse Road, Pow Beck valley south of Whitehaven.

Thank you for your representation with regard to the above planning application. Your views will be carefully considered and a summary of them will be included in my report to the Development Control and Regulation Committee which will determine the application. You will be able to view my report on the County Council’s web pages at the time. The earliest Committee the application could be presented to is the 20 September 2017. Representations received after the report has been finalised (usually 10 days before the Committee meeting) will be verbally reported to the Committee on the day of the meeting.

All representations are made available for inspection, including by the applicant.

There is also opportunity for representations to be made in person to the Committee meeting at the time the application is presented for determination; the meetings are usually held at County Hall in Kendal. Information on how to go about doing this can be found online at: Cumbria.gov.uk/elibrary/Content/Internet/538/755/1930/42289104625.pdf

 

Kind Regards

 

Rachel Brophy

 

Planning Officer | Development Control

 

From: marianne Birkby
Sent: 02 July 2017 15:24
To: Young, Stewart F
Cc: Harrison, Nicola J; Perigo, Stuart
Subject: KEEP CUMBRIAN COAL IN THE HOLE Planning Reference NO 4/17/9007

 by email and sent by letter

KEEP CUMBRIAN COAL IN THE HOLE

Planning Reference NO 4/17/9007

Dear Councillor Young,

I am writing to you on behalf of Radiation Free Lakeland to vehemently oppose the plan for the underground and undersea coking coalmine near Whitehaven.

We agree with Coal Action Network (1) who have written to you saying:

“Given that the UK steel industry imported 4.75 million tonnes of coking coal in 2015, mainly from the USA (44%) and Russia (27%) it seems perverse to be exporting coal to other countries, while importing it for UK steelworks (2). Exporting coal increases greenhouse gas emissions and producing more coal could displace lower quality coking coal to power station usage adding to greenhouse gas emissions and air quality issues. The UK government intends on phasing-out coal by 2025, but the whole world needs to stop burning this most polluting of all fossil fuels now (3).

“The application to mine is too close to the Sellafield nuclear site and the proposal for another nuclear power station at Moorside (4). Underground mining can have a significant impact on the surrounding areas, recently a coking coal mine in Russia triggered an earthquake. In addition to being dangerous for mining personnel this could cause a nuclear catastrophe (5).”

We also agree with the former director of Friends of the Earth, Jonathon Porritt who has publicly blasted the plan saying (6):

“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, so why would anyone swallow that particular pile of coking crap? In cases like this, I often think I must be going mad, and that may well be true. There’s a lot of it around these days. But in this instance, my mind keeps turning to a potential spoof-tweet from the Donald: “I am a big fan of coal and a big fan of nuclear. Putting the two of them together sounds GREAT!”

Greenpeace’s scientific advisor Doug Parr has told Radiation Free Lakeland that:

“Greenpeace would be opposed to a new coal mine for the same reason we’re opposed to fracking. We already know that there is too much fossil fuel available than we can afford to burn Therefore we should not be seeking out more.     Materials science analysis shows significant emissions from the process where coke is used.  Steel is max 2% carbon. That would make any feasible market very small for coking coal if it only got incorporated into the final steel.   It’s true there is a need for a source of carbon in making steel and coke is currently the best source. But that’s different from saying there are no other sources of coke available and that we need new mines.”

LACK OF SCRUTINY?

The Chief Executive Officer Mark KirkBride insisted when questioned at the June 25th “drop in day” that there will be no induced Seismic activity from the coal mining and that the close proximity of the proposed drifts (8km) to Sellafield is not a problem (but refused to be videoed or recorded saying that).

The CEO also stated that there is no requirement in this planning application for any mention of Seismic activity but also that they have sent in documentation to the Office for Nuclear Regulation “for approval. ” I asked if we could have sight of that documentation to inform our response to CCC but no apparently we cannot have sight of that either (9)

Incredibly the lifecycle carbon footprint is not yet available for public to view and from what the CEO said it is pretty meaningless anyway as it stops short of the coking process, the carbon footprint of which is “the responsibility of the steel producers.”   Not all the coal mined will be for “coking’ (metallurgical). according to the company’s own Environmental Statement

“At full annual production the mine will extract:

  • 2.43 million tonnes of metallurgical coal;
  • 350,000 tonnes of lower grade ‘middlings’ coal; and
  • 150,000 tonnes of rock overburden

Metallurgical and middlings coal will go to the port of Redcar for export to European steel and industrial plants.”

This is planned to continue for 50 years accessing new coal drifts using the old sulphur (anhydrite) mine entrance at St Bees

  • 80% of the coal to be mined is for export.

The CEO says the sparks we can see clearly on their own video of “modern mining methods” will not cause explosion or fire (despite the Whitehaven mining area being notorious for methane)

ON the 25th June we leafleted in Whitehaven. From what West Cumbrian Mining has been saying we should have been pelted out of town with rotten eggs.   It is clear that WCM’s claim that over 97% of people locally are in favour is wildly optimistic, certainly we spoke to a lot of people who are at least dubious about it despite the persuasive “green” credentials plus the incessant promises of jobs and good times ahead.

DIVERSIFICATION AWAY FROM NUCLEAR?

Diversification away from the stranglehold of the nuclear industry has been used as a reason to support the return to coal mining in West Cumbria. The existence of Sellafield should however make mining in its vicinity forfeit.  There should be no turning back of the clock to deep coal mining with its risk of induced seismic activity now that Sellafield’s already intolerable risks have to be managed. There are other safer, healthier and more stable industries than coal mining. from renewables to sport and tourism which should be embraced in West Cumbria. For example:

Many have said they would have much preferred the jobs offered by the (deliberately?) scuppered plan for the Pow Beck Valley Sports Village. Pow Beck is now earmarked on West Cumbria Mining’s plan to host a new underground coal conveyer belt from the coal drifts off St Bees to the Railway (10). This area is also earmarked as workers housing for the proposed Moorside plan (11). We note (along with others) that one of the Corporate Directors of Copeland Council who was in charge of (scuppering?) this multi million sports village plan is now working for NuGen (12).

In Conclusion we vehemently oppose this plan for the following reasons (there are many more)

  • If planning permission is granted this vast new coal mine “Woodhouse Colliery would be the first new deep coal mine in the UK for more than 30 years.” This would fly in the face of every climate agreement that Cumbria County Council has signed up to.

 

  • WCM have not yet produced a carbon footprint and will not be including the emissions from the coking process “that is up to the steel industry.”   Much of the coal mined from WCM will be “middlings” coal not suitable for coking (WCM Non Technical EA page 5).

 

  • It is too near Sellafield, off St Bees, just 8km away from Sellafield (even nearer to Moorside) according to West Cumbria Mining

 

  • Coking coal mines worldwide have caused induced seismic activity

 

  • The coking coal market is volatile with China closing plants because of “overcapacity” (14).

 

  • West Cumbria Mining state there “would be no significant environmental impacts” the opposite is true – the environmental, economic and health impacts of coal are very well documented (13) and these impacts are significant. Returning to coal mining in this area would add to the cumulative toxic burden in an area where “Nearly half of adult residents reported their health as ‘not good” (15).

Yours Sincerely,

Marianne Birkby

On behalf of Radiation Free Lakeland’s

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole campaign

 

  1. Coal Action Network http://coalaction.org.uk/
  2. Digest of UK Energy Statistics (2016) P55. Table 2.1 Commodity balances 2015
  3. Vaughan, A (09/11/16) Britain’s last coal power plants to close by 2025
  4. Reuters (04/04/17) UK’s Moorside nuclear project in turmoil as Toshiba’s French partner backs out
  5. UPDATE 1-Mining in Siberian coal region part-suspended after quake
  6. Jonathon Porritt Blog http://www.jonathonporritt.com/blog/another-coal-mine-donald-trump-embrace
  7. Greenpeace Study https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jan/07/much-worlds-fossil-fuel-reserve-must-stay-buried-prevent-climate-change-study-says
  8. Significant Emissions from the coking process

http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1757-899X/150/1/012023/pdf

    9. 25th June Open Day https://keepcumbriancoalinthehole.wordpress.com/2017/06/26/yesterday-at-the-west-cumbria-mining-open-day/

10.Whitehaven Sports Village Step Closer to Being Built   http://www.newsandstar.co.uk/news/Whitehaven-sports-village-step-closer-to-being-built-fd902ab9-cfd8-4e71-a51c-2a9016b56353-ds

11. Pow Beck https://www.flickr.com/photos/75784477@N08/19719936583/

12. Fergus McMorrow https://www.linkedin.com/in/mcmdevelopment/

13. More Coal = More Poverty – Oxfam Report   https://www.oxfam.org.au/what-we-do/food-and-climate/this-is-climate-in-action/coal-and-poverty/

14. www.allerdale.gov.uk/downloads/Exec_Summary_NMIAlatest.doc

15. China Coal – Overcapacity https://www.ft.com/content/1f8519fe-e8cd-11e5-bb79-2303682345c8

 

note: Resuspension of radioactive wastes from seabed landslides caused by coal mining collapse

http://www.bgs.ac.uk/discoveringGeology/hazards/landslides/sea.html