JOIN THE PROTEST – Stop the Cumbrian Coal Mine – Friday 19th July

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Dear Friends,

I will be supporting the protest to Stop the Cumbrian Coal Mine on Friday the 19th July. People are very angry that this coal mine has been approved by Cumbria County Council and  want to show continued and escalating opposition.

We also want to let the Secretary of State, James Brokenshire MP know that we are counting on him to Call In the outrageous decision by Cumbria County Council so that all the issues that were not looked at at all by the planners (who have been put on notice of possible legal action) can be brought out into the open in a public inquiry.

The walk will start at West Cumbria Coal Mine at Haig Museum at 11am (trains get into Whitehaven at 10.50 check out the Event page for lifts etc) We will be there for a while to assemble and there will be opportunities for people to sign a giant postcard before the protest walk down through Whitehaven to the Copeland Borough Council office, Market Place (Copeland Borough Council forms part of Cumbria County Council).

We will finish up around 1pm.

Please Bring Music, Bring Banners, Bring Yourselves,  and Lets Show RESISTANCE and OPPOSITION to this diabolic coal mine plan.

There is a Facebook Event page here

If you cannot get to the event and want to send a direct message to James Brokenshire MP asking him  to Call In the decision there is an easy to do action here

MANY THANKS

 

 

 

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Cumbria County Council Put On Notice

Dear Friends,

Thanks to so many of you who supported our call out for crowd funding way back in November 2017. Only With your help did we secure the advice of top Lawyers,  Leigh Day.

Leigh Day have on our instruction written an excellent letter to Cumbria County Council putting them *on notice* that their approval of the first deep coal mine in the UK in 30 years puts the Council at serious risk of legal challenge.

The downside to this is that we now have no funds left for legal challenge and we are exploring the possibility of a brave soul stepping up who is eligible for legal aid.

Below is a press release sent out to all press (the press most notably the national press have so far abandoned any attempt at journalistic honesty in reporting on this coal mine and our battle to stop it)

PRESS NOTICE

CUMBRIA COUNTY COUNCIL ‘PUT ON NOTICE’ OVER THEIR APPROVAL OF THE FIRST DEEP COAL MINE IN THE UK IN 30 YEARS

Campaigners battling to stop the first deep coal mine in the UK in 30 years have issued a warning to Cumbria County Council that their unanimous vote of approval on 19th March 2019 could be the focus of a legal challenge.

The letter issued by top environmental lawyers Leigh Day acting on behalf of Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole puts the Council on notice that there is a *serious risk of legal challenge.*

In March Cumbria County Council’s Development Control and Regulation Committee resolved that planning permission should be granted for a major new underground metallurgical coal mine on the former Marchon Chemical Works site in Whitehaven, Cumbria. Finalised planning permission is not actually expected to be granted for at least a few months as West Cumbria Mining and others need to enter into a special 106 agreement for example with surrounding landowners in advance of that final permission being granted. KCCH was also informed, on 13 June 2019, that the Secretary of State is still considering whether to call-in the application for his own determination and that he does not expect to make a decision on this before July.

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole is a Radiation Free Lakeland campaign, RaFL is a small civil society group whose primary focus is on nuclear safety, the mine would extend to 5 miles from Sellafield. KCCH was one of the many objectors to the planning application focussing its objections on environmental grounds.

The letter sent to Cumbria County Council on 20th June from Leigh Day informs the County Council of a number of flaws and omissions in their planning assessment and invites the Committee to formally re-consider its resolution to grant permission.

The issues and legal flaws are listed and described in detail in the letter. They include Cumbria County Council’s failures to consider:

GHG emissions of the mining operations
The need for, and GHG impacts of, Middlings Coal
GHG impacts of an increase in coal production.
4. Failure to consider and apply Policy ENV2 of Copeland’s Local Plan (2013 to 2028)

The letter states in conclusion:

*For the reasons given above, KCCH formally requests that the Committee reconsiders its resolution to grant planning permission for the Whitehaven Coalmine development and asks that the Committee has full regard to each of the considerations listed above when it does so. The Council’s officers are asked to facilitate that process. In the event that the Council refuses to reconsider its resolution to grant, KCCH requests that the Council provide its reasons for doing so.*

Marianne Birkby from KCCH says *we are delighted that Leigh Day have agreed to represent campaigners battling to stop this coal mine which is disastrous on so many different levels and we hope that Cumbria County Council take this opportunity rethink their decision which will impact on so many generations to come*

Anna Dews, solicitor at Leigh Day, said: *We are in the midst of a global climate crisis and our client is strongly of the view that Cumbria Country Council must now rethink its resolution to grant planning permission for the Whitehaven Coalmine. In doing so it will have to reconcile the fact that coal-fired power was the biggest single contributor to the rise of emissions in 2018 with the need to urgently tackle the climate crisis in the local area.*

Rowan Smith, solicitor at Leigh Day, added *Since the Committee resolved to grant planning permission, British Steel (one of the proposed main recipients of the coal) went into compulsory liquidation and the UK government laid legislation in parliament for a net zero Climate Change Act target. Our client KCCH strongly believes that these developments are very persuasive reasons for the Committee to rethink its decision. If it does not, then KCCH will be prepared to take legal action.

ENDS

Main Text of the Letter to Cumbria County Council- references available

Introduction

As you are aware, on 19 March 2019, Cumbria County Council’s Development Control and Regulation Committee (the Council; the Committee) resolved that planning permission should be granted for a major new underground metallurgical coal mine on the *former Marchon* site in Whitehaven, Cumbria subject to various matters including the execution of a section 106 agreement. This permission, if and when actually granted (presumably by an officer acting under delegated powers), will allow for 50 years’ of continuous coal-mining operations. At full capacity, the mine will produce 2,430,000 tonnes per annum of *coking coal* and 350,000 tonnes per annum of *middlings coal*(otherwise known as *industrial coal*).

KCCH was one of the many objectors to the planning application, focussing its objections on environmental grounds. KCCH noted the lack of any carbon footprint assessment of the emissions from the mining activities and it doubted the applicant’s (West Cumbria Mining) allegations of expected CO2 savings from import substitution of coking coal.

KCCH does not expect planning permission actually to be granted for at least a few months from the date of this letter, having regard to the need for WCM and others to enter into a significant section 106 agreement in advance of any permission being granted. KCCH was also informed, on 13 June 2019, that the Secretary of State is still considering whether to call-in the application for his own determination and that he does not expect to make a decision on this before July.

Consequently, it may be some time before a grant of planning permission could be made. KCCH nonetheless seeks – by way of this letter – to inform the County Council of a number of flaws and omissions in the planning assessment underlying the Committee’s resolution to grant. We consider that these flaws also represent a number of grounds for a legal challenge, should any subsequent decision to grant planning permission be based on the same reasoning/assessment. Through this letter we, therefore, intend to put the Council on notice that there is a serious risk of legal challenge, should any such planning permission be granted.

Furthermore, we invite the Committee to formally re-consider its resolution to grant permission (and by this letter ask officers to refer the matter back to the Committee for that purpose), taking into account the substance of each of the matters raised below. Each of the matters is plainly a material consideration which could, and we believe would, lead the Committee to reverse its previous resolution.

With that in mind we note that British Steel went into compulsory liquidation in May, putting 5,000 jobs at risk and prompting a Parliamentary inquiry which will consider the serious challenges being faced by the UK steel sector. We consider that this recent news fundamentally undermines the *need* case for *coking coal* in the UK market. As a result, it materially impacts on the Council’s assessment that the “supply of indigenous metallurgical coal to support the UK steel industry in place of imported coal is positive and should be afforded considerable weight” and its conclusion that there will be a *likely need* for metallurgical coal for the steel industry which has the potential to result in *national benefits* of *considerable weight* (officer’s report at 6.514).

For this reason alone, we request that the Committee formally reconsider its resolution to grant. There has been a clear change to the factual circumstances underlying the resolution made on 19 March and it cannot be known whether the Committee would reach the same conclusion again in light of these new facts.

Issues and legal flaws

Failure to consider GHG emissions of the mining operations

There can be no doubt that the mine will emit green-house gases (GHG) through its production processes. This was accepted by officers in the report to the Committee (OR) at 6.44. KCCH can see no evidence that the applicant provided any estimate for the GHG emissions arising from the mining operations themselves. It appears that the only assessment of site emissions is in Chapter 15 of the Environmental Impact Assessment, but this concerned local air quality impacts and dust emissions.

The development’s impact on climate change was central to the planning balance. The Committee was required to consider this under both national and local policy. In carrying out the balancing act at *stage 1* of the NPPF paragraph 211 test (and the policy test in DC13 of the Cumbria Minerals and Waste Local Plan), the emissions from mining operations were afforded *moderate weight”*(officer report at 6.503). This is the same broad category of weight (“moderate”) afforded to the potential benefits alleged to arise through GHG savings from import substitution of coking coal (at 6.502). However, whilst a crude estimate (5.3 million tonnes of CO2) was provided for the alleged GHG savings, there is no equivalent estimate for the expected emissions from the operations themselves.

It follows that the mine’s GHG emissions was a material consideration that was left out of account. Furthermore, the Committee could not rationally balance (as it needed to do) (i) the alleged GHG savings against (ii) the new GHG emissions, without comparable (and robust) information on each.

Failure to consider the need for, and GHG impacts of, Middlings Coal

The production of middlings coal will constitute up to 15% of total output. This is roughly 364,000 tonnes per annum and is a significant amount of production. It correlates, for example, to the 360,000 tonnes per annum of coking coal that will be supplied to UK steel plants.

In stark contrast to the Committee’s assessment of the coking coal to be produced from the mine, the Committee has failed to lawfully consider the need for the middlings coal – both in terms of the level of demand for it and where that demand will arise.

The OR states, at 6.70 that:

…since government policy is to move away from coal as an energy source, the likely market for this product will be industrial processes such as cement manufacture. Since the middlings coal would otherwise be disposed of with the waste rock material, I consider that if markets are available for this product for non-energy uses, this is potentially a beneficial use of a product that would otherwise be disposed of as waste. (emphasis added)

There is no further assessment of whether such markets are available, nor where they are located (whether in the UK, Europe or elsewhere in the world). There is no consideration of the likelihood of import substitution for middlings coal, or the CO2 emissions associated with transporting it to its end destination. Moreover, the Committee failed to consider whether – if permission were to be refused – any *need* for middlings coal would be likely to be met by imported industrial coal or lower carbon-emitting sources.

In short, the Committee failed to have regard to the carbon footprint of the middlings coal and its potential GHG emissions impacts. This failing fundamentally undermined any assessment of the development’s overall impact on climate change.

It was irrational for the Committee to consider only the potential carbon footprint of the coking coal and not all coal to be produced. What is more, the Council has suggested a 15% restriction on the production of middlings coal, without providing any reasons why this is a suitable limit (see the officer’s report at 6.72-6.74).

Failure to consider the GHG impacts of an increase in coal production

The UK Parliament passed a motion to declare a climate emergency on 1 May 2019. As the High Court recently stated, the increase in global temperatures is *potentially catastrophic* (R (Spurrier and others) v Secretary of State for Transport [2019] EWHC 1070 (Admin) at [559]). In this context, it was imperative on the Committee to scrutinise any potential for an increase in GHG impacts arising from increased coal production at Whitehaven. It failed to do so.

Any addition to the global stock of fossil fuels will de facto increase the likelihood of GHG emissions. If the Whitehaven Coalmine were to be permitted, a very substantial amount of coal will be added to the global stock over a very significant amount of time (50 years). This will clearly increase GHG emissions and is a highly material consideration that the Council should have had regard to.

This is notwithstanding any (non-binding) intentions of the applicant that the coal to be produced will not be used for power-generation industries (KCCH have particular concerns that there is little guarantee on how the middlings coal will eventually be used and nothing to prevent it from being used in power-generation industries).

Exports

It is also notwithstanding any (again non-binding) intentions of the applicant that some of the coal to be produced will substitute for imports that would otherwise have had to travel further (with associated transport-related CO2 emissions). In addition to there being no assessment of import-substitution in relation to middlings coal (see point 2 above), KCCH highlights that the vast majority of coking coal will be exported (only 360,000 tonnes is destined for the UK steel plants at Scunthorpe and Port Talbot).

Nothing in the proposed planning permission restricts these exports to Europe (or Western Europe) and it remains entirely possible for the applicant to export the coal further afield (particularly as the permission will remain in place for 50 years, over which time the markets for both coking coal and middlings coal will continue to change). If the coal is exported further afield, the alleged GHG savings from import substitution could easily be cancelled out, or outweighed by additional transport emissions associated with exported coal from the mine to non-European destinations.

The Committee should have considered these possibilities but failed to do so.

Worldwide prices

Finally, the increase in coal production could lead to a depreciation in the worldwide price of coal which could, in turn, lead to an increase in demand for coal. The OR noted that this concern had been raised (at 6.45) but concluded that it was an issue *far broader than can be addressed or influenced through this planning application* (at 6.50). That is not a sustainable answer.

This conflicts with the approach taken by the Secretary of State in his decision on the Highthorn open cast coal mining development at Druridge Bay in south-east Northumberland. In assessing this application, the Inspector did consider whether the additional production of coal could affect international prices, albeit he concluded that it could not (at C114 of the report) and the Secretary of State did not disagree with this position (para 34 of the letter). Notably, the Highthorn mine proposes to extract significantly less coal than at Whitehaven (the total amount of coal to be extracted will be a maximum of 3 million tonnes) and for a much shorter period (5 years).

Climate Change Act 2008

The failings noted at points 1-3 above also prevented the Committee from fully appreciating, and having regard to, the Development’s contribution to the UK’s CO2 emissions, in a context where the Government has set legally binding national targets to cut emissions by 80% of 1990 levels by 2050 through the Climate Change Act 2008 (in order to comply with the UK’s international commitments to keep the global temperature rise to 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels in 2050).

What is more, on 12 June 2019 legislation was laid before Parliament designed to implement the Government’s announcement that the UK will eradicate its net contribution to climate change by 2050. The legislation will amend the Climate Change Act 2008 to achieve this and it is expected to greatly enhance the duties imposed by the Act. We consider this recent announcement to be another material change in circumstances, since the resolution to grant, mandating reconsideration by the Committee.

Failure to consider and apply ENV2

Policy ENV2 of Copeland’s Local Plan (2013-2028) is not listed as a relevant policy for the Development in the OR. However, it states that

To reinforce the Coastal Zone’s assets and opportunities the Council will

E Protect the intrinsic qualities of the St Bees Head Heritage Coast in terms of development proposals within or affecting views from the designation. At the same time encourage schemes which assist appropriate access to and interpretation of the Heritage Coast area.

The Development clearly impacts on the St Bees Heritage Coast area. Officers advised that it would have a *moderate adverse impact* on the heritage sensitivity of St. Bees Heritage Coast (at 6.375 and 6.383).

However, there appears to have been no consideration whatsoever of development plan policy ENV2 and whether the *intrinsic qualities* of the St Bees Heritage Coast could be protected. As a result, the Committee has unlawfully failed to have regard to a relevant policy in the development plan.

Conclusion

For the reasons given above, KCCH formally requests that the Committee reconsiders its resolution to grant planning permission for the Whitehaven Coalmine development and asks that the Committee has full regard to each of the considerations listed above when it does so. The Council’s officers are asked to facilitate that process.

In the event that the Council refuses to reconsider its resolution to grant, KCCH requests that the Council provide its reasons for doing so.

Please send all future correspondence in this matter to Rowan Smith and Anna Dews, solicitors with conduct of this matter, using the details in our letterhead.
Yours faithfully,
Leigh Day

_________________________

Thank you for signing the petition Call in the Decision and Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole (its too near Sellafield), can you help spread the word by forwarding the link below to your friends?

https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/keep-cumbrian-coal-in-the-hole-its-too-near-sellafield

MANY Thanks

Marianne Birkby

You Can Send This Postcard to the Secretary of State to Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole

This template can easily be printed out on one side of ordinary A4 paper (just drag the template image onto the desktop to print it out – or highlight it to print)

Follow the instructions on the paper (can also be seen in the slideshow)

The heart can be coloured in for Xtra effect!

Remember to put a 2nd class stamp on.

Your name will then be added to those asking that the Secretary of State call in the decision made by Cumbria County Council so that it can be properly looked at in a public inquiry

 

 

 

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Postcard to Print out on A4 paper to fold up and send to the Secretary of State asking him to call in the Coal mine decision. 

Excellent “Call In” letter to James Brokenshire from West Cumbria FoE

St Bees

St Bees fragile “Heritage Coast” the scene of the first deep coal mine in the UK in decades?

Below is the call in letter sent to the Secretary of State James Brokenshire from West Cumbria Friends of the Earth.

YOU CAN SEND IN A REQUEST TOO!   The more individuals and groups asking the Secretary of State to call in Cumbria County Council’s outrageous decision to give the green light to the first deep coal mine in the UK in decades the better.

email: james.brokenshire@communities.gsi.gov.uk

The Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP,
Secretary of State for Housing, Communities & Local Government, Ministry of State for Housing, Communities & Local Government, 2 Marsham Street,
London SW1P 4DF

April 12th 2019

Dear Sir

re Planning Application ref 4/17/9007 Cumbria County Council

I am writing on behalf of West Cumbria & North Lakes Friends of the Earth to request that you as Secretary of State call in the above application for a Coal Mine on the Former Marchon Site, Pow Beck Valley and area from Marchon to St Bees Coast, Whitehaven, Cumbria. The applicant is West Cumbria Mining Ltd.

The application was considered by Cumbria County Council Development Control & Regulation Committee on March 19th 2019, and permission was granted subject to a Section 106 agreement.

Our request is based on the following:

1. Under-sea development: The development is part of a wider proposal for extraction of coal from under the Irish Sea. This is under the auspices of the Marine Management Organisation, but no proposal has been included, and the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) did not cover this wider proposal. Yet the cited economic and social benefits relate to the proposal as a whole and have not been separated within the application. The proposal is therefore not correctly balanced.

2. Climate change: The proposal plans to extract coal over a 50 year period, which conflicts with the UK’s target of a net-zero carbon economy by 2030.

No quantification of CO2 emissions has been offered other than to estimate ‘savings’ related to transportation of coking coal that would otherwise come from the USA. However, according to submissions at the Committee from objectors, these combustion emissions hugely outweigh the ‘savings’.
No attention has been paid to methane, N02 and particulate emissions other than a verbal assurance over methane given by the developer at the Committee meeting. Despite the mine’s objective to extract coal for making steel rather than generating energy, any mining operation on this scale and for this length of time conflicts with the aims of the Paris Agreement, the Climate Change Act 2008 and the National Policy Planning Framework.

3. Proximity to radioactive waste: The location of this under-sea mine is very close to the Sellafield nuclear waste site, just short of the jurisdiction of ONR. The risks related to seismicity and subsidence are potentially very serious. Such risks apply not only to the existing highly complex radioactive waste in such close proximity, but also to radioactive material on the sea bed due to historic discharges. These have not been considered and nor have the potential effects of other sea- bed pollutants arising from historic discharges from the former Marchon factory.

4. National Policy Planning Framework: The NPPF presumes that permission will not be granted for coal extraction for any purpose unless (a) the proposal is environmentally acceptable or (b) if not, then it provides national, local or community benefits which clearly outweigh its likely impacts.

However, the application failed to provide robust evidence of ‘need’ for coking coal in the UK steel industry. Estimates of the need for coking coal in the UK did not take into account the limited life of the Port Talbot plant and the precarious situation at the only other plant in Scunthorpe. Indeed the applicant proposes that 60-80% of the output will be exported to the EU. Yet national ‘need’, along with the benefit of jobs was given ‘considerable weight’.

The prospect of 500 local jobs for 50 years was enthusiastically embraced by Council members, understandably so given levels of poverty in South Whitehaven. But this estimate refers both to the proposal on land AND to the additional offshore proposal. Yet there was no EIA for the offshore proposal, so adverse impacts from this could not be balanced against the benefit.
Thus in relation to both benefits, the proposal has not been shown to provide benefits that clearly outweigh its likely impacts.

All these points indicate that the decision was not correctly taken and I trust you will therefore see the necessity to call it in.

Yours sincerely

Dr Ruth Balogh
Co-ordinator
West Cumbria & North Lakes Friends of the Earth

Local Elections and the Coal Mine

Who put their hands up for a coal mine just five miles from Sellafield?  Remember this when you vote – these councillors listened to the Mayor of Copeland who told them to ignore locals (from Whitehaven to Kendal) and experts who told them that this would be putting the ducks in line for a catastrophe and not just for Cumbria.

These councillors voted for a coal mine just five miles from Sellafield.

 

Mr A Bowness, Bothel and Wharrels, Conservative

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Mrs HF Carrick, Penrith North, Conservative, Deputy Leader of the Conservative Group

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Mr F Cassidy, Walney South, Labour

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Mr N Cotton, Sedbergh and Kirkby Lonsdale, Liberal Democrat

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Mrs BC Gray, Kendal South, Liberal Democrat

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Mr D English, Dalton South, Conservative

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Mr LN Fisher, Brampton, Conservative

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Mr KR Hamilton, Risedale, Labour

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Mr GD Cook (Chair), Kendal Highgate, Liberal Democrat

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Mr AJ Markley, Solway Coast, Conservative

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Mr W McEwan, Ormsgill, Labour

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Mr FI Morgan, Cleator Moor West, Labour

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What a shower….and then there is the Mayor of Copeland who told those in West Cumbria and those outside West Cumbria to ‘Butt Out’ if they don’t like a coal mine just five miles from Sellafield.  Don’t you get it Mr Mayor?  Fission Wastes from Nuclear Crapola wings its way through the whole of Cumbria to Sellafield almost on a daily basis – and you have agitated and puffed for a mega coal mine next door to those growing wastes.

Here he is with the Mayor of Fukushima – I kid you not…

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from the Elected Mayor of Copeland’s facebook page.

“21st March ….I (sic) was my pleasure to welcome Mayor Endo and his colleagues to Copeland Council yesterday.

Mr Endo, the Mayor of Hirono, met with me as part of his visit to West Cumbria in which he is focusing on education and revitalisation.

His community houses Fukushima and Mr Endo is particularly proud of the fact that around 90 per cent of the original population has returned to his town since the evacuation.

Mr Endo and his colleagues are keen to develop relationships with communities that have some similarities in terms of rurality and the creation of new opportunities. He also visited the Energy Coast UTC, West Cumbria Sites Stakeholders Group and The Beacon Museum, Whitehavenduring his stay.”

The only national paper to report on Delivery of our Protest and Petition to the Secretary of State was Le Monde.

Le Monde 15th April 2019

Translated with Google..

Le Monde

“Despite growing concerns over global warming, the UK is about to open an underwater coal mine. The first in thirty years, in the north-west of the country, on the coast of the depopulated county of Cumbria. A group of local opponents sent the government Wednesday, April 10 a petition signed by 1,500 people.  This called for a stay of Cumbria County Council’s decision and the opening of a public inquiry, in which “all aspects of the mine would be examined in detail”.
On March 19th, all-party members of the county council voted unanimously in favor of this offshore submarine mine project led by West Cumbria Mining Limited. In the Irish Sea, a few hundred meters from the coast of Whitehaven (25 000 inhabitants), the exploitation of the ore nested at a depth of 350 meters should begin within two years, according to the company. The mining company is still required to obtain an operating license from the Marine Management Organization (an independent body responsible for the management of marine protected areas) to be able to dig under the sea.
Access will be from the mainland, then through underground galleries. “For the miners who work there, it does not change a conventional underground mine,” says the director of risks in the Bureau of Geological and Mining Research (BRGM), Karim Ben Slimane.

“Desperately need these jobs”
Objective of the “Woodhouse Colliery”, name of the future mine: the extraction of 3.1 million tons of annual coking coal for the European steel industry, for fifty years. And above all, 500 jobs, of which the company guarantees “80% to the inhabitants of the zone”. “The mine will boost the local economy and create well-paying jobs,” said Mike Starkie, Mayor of Copeland District, whose capital is Whitehaven. It is fantastic to see the coal industry return to western Cumbria. ”
The coal has long been part of the industrial landscape of this region, “one of the most disadvantaged in the north of England,” he says. In 1986, the closure of a first underwater mine left 3 500 people on the road. Then in Whitehaven, in the popular neighborhood adjoining the land where the mine offices are already located, the prospect of a salary goes well before the rest. …”

The rest of the article is behind a paywall

Delivering the Petition to Call In the Crazy Coal Mine Plan to the Home Office

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Outside the Home Office, Kevin  the West Cumbrian Mining Canary has that sinking feeling! 

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Yesterday in the cold sunshine a couple of intrepid Cumbrians and a naked yellow ‘coal mine canary’ called Kevin made the journey to London.

We were delivering a petition signed by 1527 folk (now risen to 1582) who are asking the Secretary of State James Brokenshire MP to call in the outrageous decision for a new deep undersea coal mine.

We will keep the petition open to demonstrate the strength of feeling against this plan which so many people living nearby are opposed to.

On the same day that we were delivering the petition the Mayor of Copeland sent an extraordinary letter to the Secretary of State. In his letter the Mayor, Mike Starkie restates the view he expressed to Cumbria County Councillors.  The Mayor urges the Secretary of State to ignore the high level expert advice which has described the damage that this plan would do to our planet’s climate,  and to ignore the very real concerns of nuclear safety campaigners who fear this plan would increase the already intolerable and overwhelming radioactive risks from Sellafield to Cumbria and beyond.

West Cumbria Mining have spent £millions on promoting this plan with lobbyists wooing local MPs and government ministers many of whom have been lured by the entirely faux ‘environmental’ reassurances.

The Mayor of Copeland repeats the mantra that this plan has overwhelming support from ordinary West Cumbrians.  We would like to invite the Mayor of Copeland to take a walk with us, in the presence of a journalist to act as a witness, and to ask those we meet in the streets of Workington, Egremont, Whitehaven and Kells what their view is of West Cumbria Mining’s plan.

 

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The Mayor of Copeland and WCM keep on repeating the mantra that this mine is wanted by local folk.  It is true that West Cumbria is desperately in need of jobs and investment. What West Cumbria is not in need of is yet another dead duck and expensive (in more ways than one) industry to suck the remaining life out it.

Here are some excerpts of what locals are saying…

 

This was the view of everyone we chatted to in Workington (except one)

What are folk saying who live even nearer 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.”

These are the locals that the Mayor Mike Starkie wants the Secretary of State to ignore – having sucessfully urged the County Council to ignore them!    Is this what a Mayor is for?