“Vindication for campaigner fighting plan for deep coal mine in West Cumbria”

On Leigh Days Website

A campaigner, who issued a legal case against a proposed deep coal mine in West Cumbria on grounds that the climate change impact had not been properly taken into account, says she has been vindicated by the latest development in plans for the scheme.

20 May 2020

Earlier this year, campaigner Marianne Bennett, with support from the Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole (KCCH) group was granted permission for a judicial review of Cumbria County Council’s decision to allow the first deep coal mine in the UK for 30 years to be built by West Cumbria Mining (WCM) in Whitehaven.

However, since the ruling in February, WCM has submitted a revised planning application to only process premium metallurgical coal in a simplified, cheaper-to-construct mine proposed for the site of the former Marchon Chemical Works. The previous application would have resulted in 15 per cent of the mined produce being a type of non-metallurgical coal, known as “middlings” coal.

As a result, Cumbria County Council has now confirmed that it will no longer rely on the resolution decision being challenged in the judicial review proceedings.

However, Ms Bennett’s legal team at Leigh Day solicitors believes that WCM has submitted the revised planning application to defeat the legal challenge.

They have agreed with Cumbria County Council and WCM that the claim will be withdrawn. They will now seek costs on behalf of Ms Bennett from Cumbria County Council and WCM.

Ms Bennett said:

“We have in effect achieved what we first set out to do, which was to overturn the council’s unanimous decision to approve the coal mine.

“We will be seeking legal costs so that we can keep our fighting fund for another day. We will now be encouraging our supporters to lobby the council so they do not say yes to this revised planning application for the first deep coal mine in the UK in decades.”

Rowan Smith, of Leigh Day solicitors, said:

“We believe that this revised application by WCM is an attempt to defeat the legal challenge which would have been brought at the High Court in Manchester later this year.

“Our client will be studying the new plan carefully and considering further action because she firmly believes that the changes proposed do not resolve the climate change issue with the project and this was the principal reason she took her brave legal action at the start of this process.”

Ms Bennett is also represented by David Wolfe QC (Matrix) and Merrow Golden (Francis Taylor Buildings).

Information was correct at time of publishing. See terms and conditions for further details.

Spring Watch at St Bees & July Date for Coal Mine Challenge

 

 

Dear Friends,

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

Marianne

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.

JUDICIAL REVIEW

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.

CLIMATE IMPACTS

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.”

ENDS

Notes:

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole – blog

https://keepcumbriancoalinthehole.wordpress.com

CrowdJustice page

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/cumbriancoal2/

Radiation Free Lakeland – website

https://wildar4.wixsite.com/radiation-free-land

West Cumbria Mining – website

https://www.westcumbriamining.com

Leigh Day

https://www.leighday.co.uk

Aarhus Convention

https://ec.europa.eu/environment/aarhus/legislation.htm

The Case Against New Coal Mines in the UK – report by Green Alliance

https://www.green-alliance.org.uk/resources/The_case_against_new_coal_mines_in_the_UK.pdf

We have been Granted Permission for Judicial Review! Well Done Everyone!!!

Dear Friends

Brilliant news we have just heard that we have been granted permission for a judicial review of Cumbria County Council’s decision to allow the first deep coal mine in 30 years in the UK to be built.

Well done everyone for getting this challenge off the starting blocks. Onwards and Upwards!!

Below is Leigh Day’s Press Release … you can read it direct on their website 

 

6 February 2020

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole (KCCH), are challenging Cumbria County Council’s Development Control and Regulation Committee’s decision to resolve to grant planning permission for a major new underground metallurgical coal mine on the former Marchon Chemical Works site in Whitehaven, Cumbria. The judicial review will be heard at the High Court in Manchester on a date yet to be set.

KCCH is an active environmental campaign group in the local area, and was one of the leading objectors to the planning application focussing its objections on the proximity of the coal mine site to the nuclear facility at Sellafield.

Cumbria County Council resolved to grant planning permission following a unanimous vote on 19 March 2019. On 20 June 2019, Leigh Day wrote to Cumbria County Council. The letter addressed a number of legal issues, including Cumbria County Council’s failures to consider:

  • Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of the mining operations
  • The need for, and GHG impacts of, Middlings Coal
  • The Government’s Net Zero target.

Despite being alerted to those concerns, Cumbria County Council ratified its decision on 31 October 2019. Mrs Justice Beverley Lang has now agreed that those legal issues are arguable and justify a public hearing.

Marianne Birkby from KCCH, said:

“Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole are delighted we are able to bring this Judicial Review in order to challenge the decision made by Cumbria County Council to approve the first deep coal mine in decades. This legal challenge is only happening because of the ongoing determination of our campaigning and the huge generosity of everyone who has donated to the crowd-funder.”

Rowan Smith, solicitor at law firm Leigh Day, who is representing Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole, with Anna Dews and Carol Day from Leigh Day, said:

“We are pleased that the High Court has granted our client permission for a judicial review of Cumbria County Council’s decision to allow this coal mine development. This legal action shines a light on how all local planning authorities should assess the climate change impacts of development of this nature, particularly with the backdrop of the UK Parliament declaring a climate emergency and the Government’s commitment to ensuring that the Net Zero target is reached by 2050.

“We are in the middle of a climate crisis, and our clients have worked tirelessly to bring this issue into the public domain. There will now be full legal scrutiny of the climate change impact of this proposal, which is estimated to translate to 420 million tonnes CO₂e even without taking into account the emissions arising from the extraction process.”

David Wolfe QC from Matrix chambers and Merrow Golden from Francis Taylor Building chambers are instructed.

Injustice Piled on Injustice…

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole are so impressed by Elijah’s dedication and passion but we do not condone this kind of self harm especially in such young folk.  We feel so strongly and passionately not only for the injustice of the mine but also the injustice of the overwhelming silence surrounding this mine for so long .  The silence was not from us – we have been shouting about this diabolic plan since 2017 and we continue to vigorously challenge this plan through campaigning, for example the Marine Management Organisation still need to give this mine a license and through legal means.

Please Elijah – do not injure yourself – you are precious and there are other means to fight this.

Tweet to Elijah M

 

 

 

 

“Incompatible” (Yes and Much more besides ..)

 

A new report by the Green Alliance (these interviews Jan 17, 2020) says West Cumbria’s new mine will emit the equivalent of a million homes worth of carbon and is incompatible with UK climate ambition.

This report is welcome (if a tad late) and it reiterates some of what Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole have been saying about this coal mine since 2017.

The report of course does not detail the impacts that this mine could have on nearby Sellafield – the most dangerous nuclear waste site in the world.  It is a very welcome report nevertheless and well worth reading.

EXTRACT below

“Jobs and carbon

“West Cumbria Mining estimates that around 518 jobs will be created (of which 80 per cent will be within 20 miles of Whitehaven). Using the company’s breakdown of job types and industry standard salaries, it is possible to estimate the annual salary remuneration for the entire workforce, including management, at £11.8 million per year. 35 This is less than three per cent (2.87 per cent) of the commodity value of the coal that would be extracted, which we estimate to be £411 million per year, using commodity prices for coking and middling coal.36 The carbon emissions would be around 16,000 tonnes CO2e per year per job for the lifetime of the mine. This compares with under seven tonnes of CO2e emissions per person per year in the UK at present, a figure which must fall to net zero by 2050.37 The carbon footprint of the salaries paid would be almost three quarters of a tonne of CO2 per £1 earned by the workforce (700kg CO2e per £).”

PDF of the report here 

“Incompatible” Coal Mine : Bravo to the authors of New Report..

 

image.png

Bravo to the authors of a new report which concludes that the Cumbrian coal mine is incompatible with the UK’s climate ambition.

“The proposed mine is clearly incompatible with the UK’s climate ambitions and the need for a clean energy future,” said Rebecca Willis, co-author of the report, in a statement. “The new government has championed its commitment to climate action. It now needs to set out its policy on fossil fuel extraction, making clear that digging more coal out of the ground is no longer acceptable.”

Add to the above, the (largely ignored) fact that this coal mine would extend to within five miles of the world’s riskiest nuclear waste site at Sellafieldand you have a recipe for both climate and nuclear disaster — what a terrible double whammy.  What the accompanying write up by the report authors does not touch on, is that while there are many local people aware of the incompatibility of new coal to the UKs climate ambitions – many locals are also aware of the incompatibility of a deep undersea coal mine and a dangerous proximity to Sellafield.

The report ‘The case against new coal mines in the UK’ is from the nonpartisan thinktank Green Alliance.

West Cumbria Mining has not yet responded to the report.

 

The Spirit of the Irish Sea Thanks You

Spirit of the Irish Sea (for web)
“Sea Horse Heart – Spirit of the Irish Sea”

Let 2020 be the year that we Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole and stop this terrible plan. Thank you so much to everyone who has contributed to the crowdfunder and equal thanks to those who have been sharing and talking about this.

The image above is a small watercolour painting and the final person to donate to the crowdfunder will receive the original painting.

Thanks to you all we now have the means to push forward with a legal challenge.

But we are not resting on our laurels and will be pursuing every means possible to stop this coal mine, alongside the legal challenge.

The St Bees area of the Irish Sea is in a Marine Conservation Zone and will need a license from the Marine Management Organisation in order for coal to be extracted from deep under the Irish Sea. From what we can see the MMO only consults with conservancy agencies and organisations (?) This is rather scary as the organisations tasked with the protection of Cumbria’s wildlife have, incredibly, so far been rather nonchalant about this coal mine and the impacts it would inevitably have on the Irish Sea and the Irish Sea bed. We will be pushing for a full public consultation with the public and with surrounding countries. The countries that are on the Irish Sea shoreline are, Scotland, England , Wales, Isle of Man,  Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland . All of these countries should be consulted by the MMO in their deliberations on whether or not to give West Cumbria Mining free rein to mine out coking and industrial “middlings” coal from under the Irish Sea just five miles from the world’s riskiest nuclear waste site, Sellafield.

ALSO: The Climate Change Act 2008 is a legally binding, long-term framework for the UK to mitigate and adapt to the impact of climate change. Under the Act, public bodies (including the Marine Management Organisation) must report on the steps that they are taking to respond to climate change. The purpose of this report is to highlight the ways in which the MMO’s work is at risk of being affected by a changing climate and to set out any actions to help the organisation adapt.

OK THEN! SO KEEP CUMBRIAN COAL IN THE HOLE!!!