The Coal Mine and the Nuclear Dump – Avoiding the Connections

Both West Cumbria Mining and Radioactive Waste Management (who are advised by one Mark Kirkbride, coal mine CEO) are keen to deflect any attention from the direct connections between the coal mine and the GDF (of which the CEO of WCM has already given the government “invaluable” advice on the digging of the big hole).

If the coal mine is the route whereby the GDF is reached both physically and by design then there is a direct connection. If the coal boss is advising RWM there is a direct connection (he is). If the same companies are being promoted by the coal boss to deliver the GDF as are on the WCM supplier list there is a direct connecton (they are). If the area in the frame for GDF is directly adjacent to the coal mine meaning that the same access tunnels could be used there is a direct connection (it is). If the voids made by the coal mine could be used for GDF rock spoil there is a connection (they could). If the borehole research for the coal mine is in the same area as the GDF there is a direct connection (it is). In the light of the COP26 discussions, in which Australia opposed the phasing out of coal, (bringing tears to Alok Sharma’s eyes), the role of the Australian, EMR Capital, via WCM, in this whole dodgy business is just the icing on the orchestrated mess which ends in Cumbria being lined up for a GDF directly alongside a coal mine.

This screenshot below is from RWM’s website – see how they avoid the question! Of course there is a connection – everyone can see it. Of course no one in their right mind would put nuclear waste in (or near) a coal mine (although they already tried at Keekle Head). All the connections of cronyism and use of the coal mine to facilitate the infrastructure for a GDF are undeniable and Radioactive Waste Management have not attempted to deny any of them. All they do is repeat the diversionary mantra that the two are “unconnected” in that heat generating waste will not be directly shovelled into the coal mine – OK so what about all the other questions ? Tell us the truth for once.


Deep Geological Disposal of Nuclear Wastes in the UK and The Coal Mine

Dear Friends,

Thank you to everyone who is donating and sharing this CrowdJustice campaign to Help stop the Cumbrian Coal Mine.

(All monies go direct to Leigh Day who are helping us to look at how we can challenge the plan on nuclear impacts)

On 15th March, The Science Discovery Group will be hosting a talk :

Development of a Deep Geological Disposal Facility for Nuclear Waste in the UK

Mark Kirkbride, Member on the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM)

What On Earth has that got to do with the Cumbria Coal Mine I hear you ask!

Well, just days after Cumbria County Council gave (provisional) planning permission to West Cumbria Mining in October 2019, the Chief Executive Officer of WCM was appointed to the UK Government body pushing the plan for the Geological Disposal of Nuclear Wastes in the UK.  The public body is called the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management.  They advise Radioactive Waste Management who had already appointed the Head of Operations at West Cumbria Mining to the job of Site Selection Manager for the Geological Disposal Facility (heat generating nuclear dump)  plan.  Both public bodies report to the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy who have voiced support for the coal mine plan and actively supported the plan from the outset (more on that in another post).

The area under consideration for a GDF is the Irish Sea area adjacent to the coal mine.  The coal mine itself would be directly under decades of Sellafield’s radioactive discharges .  CoRWM have somewhat disingenuously told us they have “no interest” in either the coal mine development by one of their (twelve) members or in the fact that the coal mine would be directly under the decades of ‘low level’ waste (including plutonium) already discharged from Sellafield and sitting in the (soon to be disturbed by mining subsidence) silts on the Irish Sea bed.   

We assume that CoRWM would also reply that they have no interest at all in the geological stresses that Mark Kirkbride’s  coal mine development would induce on the surrounding area of the Irish Sea which includes the area under consideration for a Geological Disposal Facility (subsea nuclear dump for heat generating nuclear wastes) for which Mark Kirkbride is giving a promotional talk on March 15th.

You see the corruption?  CoRWM say they see no conflict of interest in the appointment of West Cumbria Mining’s CEO.  Mark Kirkbride has also been elevated to Chair of a Sub Group within the CoRWM Committee which provides:

Scrutiny of and advice to BEIS and RWM on technical site evaluation criteria and plans for site investigation and characterisation.


  • scrutinise the application of the Site Evaluation and how appropriate it is for specific communities
  • examine RWM’s long-term planning and programme management initiatives. Provide feedback and informal advice by means of a written report”

So Mark Kirkbride is giving advice to former colleague at West Cumbria Mining Steve Reece who is now Site Selection Manager for Radioactive Waste Management.  The site in the frame is the Irish Sea area adjacent to the coal mine.  You get the drift ? (pun intended)

This information has been sent over and again in much detail to the national press and NGOs.   

It has been widely ignored.  

Is there some kind of ‘D’ notice on this shocking information?  

Just imagine if, a couple of years ago at the height of the campaign against Fracking, if a Developer had been appointed to a Government body?  The press would be all over it.  

As it is we are being treated to a Punch and Judy show on climate impacts of the mine – important – but this  diverts attention away from the corruption of governance that is going on in relation to this coal mine.   

I suspect the Government are only too happy to have pronuclear scientists lining up to denounce the climate impacts of this mine while totally ignoring the fact that the CEO of the coal mine has been appointed to high office in the governmental plan to push along a deep nuclear dump in the UK for heat generating nuclear wastes.

Here is a little competition.  The first reporter who manages to get the fact that the CEO of the coal mine has been appointed to CoRWM in the press will receive this original cartoon.  If anyone sees anything in the press which mentions Mark Kirkbride’s elevation to CoRWM please do contact me here.  

I expect to keep the cartoon for a long while …..

Please UK press and mainstream NGOs  – surprise me!

In the meantime it is my opinion that we may  have more chance of Cumbria County Council changing their minds over the coal mine than government who have appointed one former and one existing coal mine executive to their diabolic deep nuclear dump plans  and have supported the coal mine from the beginning.  

Please do keep writing to Cumbria County Council and asking them not to issue a final Decision Notice for the coal mine.   You can contact the Development Control Committee here.   Please do Thank the Chair of Committee who voted against the plan and ask that other members follow his example and do not issue a final Decision Notice for this coal mine whose impacts would be intergenerational.  

Best wishes


Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole (a Radiation Free Lakeland campaign) 

Write to the Committee on Climate Change and Ask them to Follow Up on the Letter to Robert Jenrick – It is BEIS Who Hold ALL the Cards!

Letter sent to the Committee on Climate Change today – please do write your own letters urging the Committee to write to their parent department of Business Energy and Industrial Strategy who hold ALL the cards. Write to them here:

Dear Committee on Climate Change,

Thank you for writing to Robert Jenrick Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government regarding the proposed Woodhouse Colliery in West Cumbria and exposing the fact that opening this coal mine would mean that the 6th Carbon Budget would not be achieved by the UK.

We ask that you also write to your parent Dept, the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy who bizarrely are responsible for the Coal Authority as well as the Committee on Climate Change. The Coal Authority (sanctioned by BEIS) issued conditional Coal Authority Licences to the developers West Cumbria Mining in 2013/14. The licences were issued above the heads of local councillors and the public. These licences have lapsed and West Cumbria Mining have applied for an extension/renewal. We ask that you write to the Secretary of State for BEIS Kwasi Kwarteng urging him to ensure that new Coal Authority licences are not issued for the coal mine in Cumbria. We also ask that you write to the Coal Authority urging them not to issue renewal of licences for West Cumbria Mining. It is a scandal that the original licences were issued quietly 8 years ago. Even more of a scandal now given that we now know the full implications of this coal mine which would be under the decades of Sellafield’s radioactive wastes on the Irish Sea bed and just five miles from the worlds riskiest nuclear waste site. The reasons not to issue licences are overwhelming. Please follow up your excellent letter to Robert Jenrick by writing to BEIS and the Coal Authority and ensure Game Over for the most contraversial and dangerous coal mine ever to be proposed in the UK.

Thank You

Marianne Birkby
founder of Radiation Free Lakeland a nuclear safety group who have been running the Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole campaign since 2017

An Open Letter to the Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng Who is About to Issue Coal Licenses for West Cumbria Mining

An Open Letter to the Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng MP Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. 

Dear Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng 

You said yesterday that there is “a slight tension” between the governmnent washing its hands (Pontius Pilate like) of the Cumbria coal mine saying its a ‘local decision’ and the UK government’s committment to net zero carbon and its chairing of the UN Climate Summit in Glasgow in November.

The UK Dept for Business Energy and Industry Strategy argue that the coal mine is “a local decision” but in the awarding of new Coal Authority licenses to the developers (West Cumbria Mining) the buck stops with BEIS.   Accountability of the Coal Authority lies directly with the BEIS.  The first set of licenses is due to run out on 24th January.

As nuclear safety campaigners who have been opposing this mine since 2019 we are very concerned that the climate aspect of this mine may not be the most disastrous to life on planet earth. BEIS is directly responsible for the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management who have appointed the CEO of the coal mine development, Mark Kirkbride to their Committee who advise BEIS and Radioactive Waste Management on “site selection” of a potential Geological Disposal Facility for Radioactive Wastes.  The Coal Mine is adjacent to the area under the Irish Sea bed which is ‘in the frame’  for the subsea geological disposal of heat generating nuclear wastes.   

Do BEIS believe that mining out coal adjacent to the area they are promoting as a Geological Disposal Facility will make the rocks more stable? Or that mining directly underneath the decades of Sellafield’s discharged wastes will make them safer?

The coal mine would be directly beneath the nuclear wastes discharged from Sellafield over the last 70 odd years.  They are in the silts known as the “Cumbrian Mud Patch.”  The UK and Ireland Nuclear Free Local Authorities have along with local nuclear safety campaigners Radiation Free Lakeland, urged Cumbria County Council to reconsider the impact of the expected subsidence of the Irish Sea bed and resuspension of the decades worth of radioactive wastes from Sellafield which are currently embedded in the silts of the Cumbrian Mud Patch. WCM have designated and identified a sub-sea mining zone of the Irish Sea lying to the west of St Bees Head and extending at least 8kms offshore and southwards to within about 8km of the Sellafield site. The WCM extraction proposals, using continuous mining methods, predict the extraction of approximately 3 million tonnes of coal per year over a 50 year period. This extraction rate will eventually generate a huge subterranean void space of approximately 136 million cubic metres (a volume greater than that of Wastwater Lake).  Subsidence “is expected” beneath Sellafield’s discharged nuclear wastes currently (largely imobilised in the silt, remobilising the nuclear wastes into the water column and back to land.

Now we urge BEIS NOT TO ISSUE COAL AUTHORITY LICENSES for this Coal Mine which would be largely under the Irish Sea.

yours sincerely

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole (a Radiation Free Lakeland Campaign

Intimacy Between WCM and the “Need” for a Geological Disposal Facility (to facilitate new nuclear build there needs to be a ‘solution’ to the waste- this is it)

Sellafield to Ennerdale
Sellafield to Ennerdale – Ennerdale Granite is one of the areas in the frame for a GDF? WCM executives are in this nuclear dumping game as well as in the coal game.  (google map)

What with obsessing about “need for coking coal for steel” and emissions of carbon and methane from the proposed coal mine,  I totally missed this appointment back in November 2019.  Along with, it seems, the press and everyone else.

I wonder if the councillors would have been as keen to offer unanimous approval to embed West Cumbria Mining into the fabric of Cumbria had they been thinking about the intimate connections between WCM and the grandson of NIREX  – RWM.

Radioactive Waste Management is the government quango (previously NIREX, then MRWS) tasked with delivery of the plan for the Geological Disposal Facility for heat generating nuclear wastes.

We already knew that Steve Reece the former Operations Director of West Cumbria Mining had been appointed to the Head of Site Evaluation at Radioactive Waste Management but we were warned off flagging this up by various, focussed on climate, folks who said it would ‘cloud the issue’ of the coal mine.

So we have kept quiet about this connection for quite some time.

However – Steve Reece has now been joined in the GDF game by the CEO of West Cumbria Mining, Mark Kirkbride. Mark Kirkbride told me in front of councillors and other campaigners at the last planning meeting (where councillors again voted unanimously for the coal mine) to “Get a Conscience, Marianne!”

OK – well my conscience (or whatever) is bothering me a bit about this intimacy between WCM and the plan to “facilitate a GDF”  under a  “volunteer community.”

Of course the plan for the coal mine may not actually be to use the voids for concrete paste dispersal of “exempt” or “high volume very low level radioactive wastes”.

However, it is clear by the appointments to RWM of West Cumbria Mining executives that the expertise for deep mining to ‘dispose’ of heat generating nuclear wastes is being embedded in Cumbria.

‘Get a Conscience’ indeed.