As you know we had planned a Spring Watch Wildlife Walk and Draw along the cliff top walk from Whitehaven to St Bees. As we cannot do that here is a virtual walk with sketches of some of the birds that it is possible to see. Some are very vulnerable indeed such as the Black Guillemot, just one of the reasons why we want to stop this coal mine.
The date of the week beginning the 20th July has now been set for the Legal Challenge which you have so generously donated funds towards. A Press Release has been sent out to media and can be read below. With many thanks for your continued support in the battle to stop this coal mine. We will let you know more details about the 20th July date as soon as we know more.
With All Very Best Wishes
on behalf of Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole.
PRESS NOTICE. 8th April 2020
POSSIBLE JULY DATE FOR CUMBRIAN COAL MINE LEGAL CHALLENGE
Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole are challenging the decision by Cumbria County Council to allow the first phase of a major new coking coal mine deep under the Irish Sea. The date for the Judicial Review is planned for the week commencing the 20th July (dependent on the situation with Covid19 restrictions) and will be heard at the High Court in Manchester.
The case is being brought on behalf of KCCH by Mrs Marianne Bennett (which is the legal name of the Cumbrian based artist Marianne Birkby). KCCH was founded by the campaign group Radiation Free Lakeland which was set up in 2008 to fight the plan for the geological disposal of nuclear wastes under Cumbria. A crowdfunder set up by Mrs Bennett following Cumbria County Council’s decision in March 2019 to grant the coal mine planning permission has generated £10,435 to cover court costs and legal expenses. KCCH have engaged the services of top environmental lawyers at Leigh Day, Matrix Chambers and Francis Taylor Buildings.
On 20 June 2019, Leigh Day wrote to Cumbria County Council addressing a number of legal issues. Despite being alerted to those concerns, Cumbria County Council ratified its decision on 31 October 2019.
Consequently, KCCH launched its Judicial Review on 12 December 2019, arguing that Cumbria County Council had failed to properly assess the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of the mining operations, by wrongly claiming that the development would be “carbon neutral” without any evidence whatsoever to support such a claim. KCCH also submitted that Cumbria County Council had a legal requirement to consider whether the extraction and use of the coal would be in line with the Government’s target of Net Zero CO2 emissions by 2050, given the Whitehaven development will last for at least the next 50 years.
The developers West Cumbria Mining as ‘interested party,’ have throughout, strongly resisted the legal challenge. Arguing that KKCH’s case against Cumbria County Council is “without merit” in respect of both carbon emissions and the need for coking coal. WCM also argued that the KCCH should be exposed to much higher costs, which could have jeopardised the Judicial Review going ahead. However, Mrs Justice Beverley Lang agreed in February 2019 that the legal issues are arguable, that they justify a public hearing and that KCCH could have a cap of £5,000 on court costs under Aarhus rules.
WEST CUMBRIAN MINING ‘U-TURN’ ON MIDDLINGS COAL ?
Since then, and in an apparent U-turn, WCM has sent a letter to Cumbria County Council (disclosed as part of the legal case) that says all of the extracted Coal can now go into the Steel Industry. In light of that change, WCM indicates in the letter that it will submit a revised planning application to Cumbria County Council. However, much is unknown as to whether the total amount of Coal will remain the same or whether there is still going to be a by-product of Middlings Coal, and if so how the environmental impact of disposing of that waste product will be assessed by Cumbria County Council before any revised planning application is approved.
Neither WCM nor Cumbria County Council have yet addressed criticisms of the climate change impact of the Coal Mine raised in a report published by the Green Alliance. We understand from the same letter that WCM intends to do so as part of any revised planning application.
Meanwhile, KCCH intends to proceed with the legal challenge, because there are still questions concerning GHG emissions and the Net Zero target which campaigners believe are unaffected by these revisions.
Marianne Birkby from KKCH, said:
“We are pleased that a date has now been set for the legal challenge which has had to overcome so many hurdles already to get us to this point. We feel that this coal mine has gone way under the radar for so long – the climate impacts alone should have stopped this plan in its tracks from the outset but there is also the issue, much on our minds, that this coal mine would extend to within 5 miles of the Sellafield site. Cumbria would be the only place in the UK with deep mining infrastructure in place. We are delighted that full legal scrutiny of the climate change impacts will be addressed despite the manoeuvrings of West Cumbria Mining to try and circumvent any such legal challenge. We will continue to work tirelessly along with others to stop this, outrageously dangerous coal mine plan under the Irish Sea.”
Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole – blog
Radiation Free Lakeland – website
West Cumbria Mining – website
The Case Against New Coal Mines in the UK – report by Green Alliance