Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng – the buck stops with
BEIS in the issuing of Coal Authority LIcences for
West Cumbria Mining


The conditional Coal Authority Licenses for the diabolic plan to mine 3 million tonnes of coal a year under the Irish Sea and five miles from Sellafield are due to run out any day, the press have been told (repeatedly) but so far only a local online news site has reported on this (Many Thanks to the Cumberland Echo!) .

Please write urgently to the Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng MP Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS)

Please use this template below as inspiration to write your own letter – it doesn’t have to be long the main message is to say that the buck stops with BEIS and they should not issue Coal Authority licenses – the nuclear and climate consequences of this coal mine would cause irreversible damage to life on planet earth.

Contact Details for BEIS and Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng:

phone – 020 7219 5777

email – kwasi.kwarteng.mp@parliament.uk

Twitter- @KwasiKwarteng

Twitter – @beisgovuk

Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng MP. Minister of State for Business, Energy and Strategy

Dear Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng


Congratulations on your appointment as Minister of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

On your watch the “tension” has been acknowledged between the government washing its hands (Pontius Pilate like) of the Cumbria coal mine saying its a local decision and the UK government’s commitment to net zero carbon and chairing of the UN Climate Summit in Glasgow in November https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change/cumbria-coal-mine-kwasi-kwarteng-b1789458.html

The developers West Cumbria Mining hold a series of Coal Authority licences which were issued undemocratically over the heads of the public and local councillors and collectively cover an area of approximately 200 km2 off the coast at Whitehaven along with a far smaller area onshore.

The UK Dept for Business Energy and Industry Strategy argue that the coal mine is a local decision but in the awarding of the previous and any 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 conditional licenses awarded 8 years ago are due to run out any day.

There is another tension apart from that of the climate. Nuclear safety campaigners (Radiation Free Lakeland) were the first to oppose this mine back in 2017. BEIS is directly responsible for the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management . CoRWM have appointed the CEO of the coal mine development, Mark Kirkbride to their committee. This committee was set up to 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 in the frame as a Geological Disposal Facility will make the rocks more stable?

Or that mining directly under the decades of Sellafield’s discharged wastes will make them safer?

Nuclear wastes discharged from Sellafield for 70 years would be directly above the coal mine.

They are in the silts known as the Cumbrian Mud Patch, nuclear and chemical wastes of every type including plutonium.

The tension is palpable.

The UK and Ireland Nuclear Free Local Authorities along with local nuclear safety campaigners Radiation Free Lakeland, have already urged Cumbria County Council to reconsider the impact of the expected subsidence of the Irish Sea bed. Resuspension of the decades worth of radioactive wastes from Sellafield which are currently embedded in the silts of the Cumbrian Mud Patch would be disastrous. Nuclear workers are compensated for Radiation Linked Diseases (http://www.csrld.org.uk/), the public which includes children more vulnerable to radiation impacts are not.

The facts are that 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 decades. This extraction rate would eventually generate a huge subterranean void space of approximately 136 million cubic metres (a volume greater than that of Wastwater Lake). Subsidence say WCM is expected. Sellafield’s discharged nuclear wastes are currently (largely) immobilised in the silt. Subsidence would remobilise the nuclear wastes into the water column and back to the coasts of Cumbria and beyond.

The buck stops with the BEIS. If BEIS issue Coal Authority licenses for this Coal Mine the result would be irreversible (known and unknown) nuclear impacts, as well as climate impacts.

Do Not Rubber Stamp Coal Authority Licenses to West Cumbria Mining. At the very least the wider public should have a say on whether licenses should be issued or not.

Yours Sincerely



A Little Film…today in Whitehaven

A Little Film from today in Whitehaven.  West Cumbria Mining none too pleased about us being there.

Tomorrow we will meet outsidethe Beacon, Whitehaven 11am for a walk depending on the weather.  We will meet up anyway to do a much shorter walk if the weather is awful.

Good that some opposition was shown but Shame the BBC didnt mention all the groups opposing the mine from The Coal Authority to the RSPB,. Its strange why these groups  havn’t flagged up their strong opposition to the coal mine plan to their members and the media.

AGAINST THE PLAN Are:  The Coal Authority, National Trust, Natural England, Colourful Coast Partnership, RSPB, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, The Environment Agency, Coal Action Network and Many More!

Even The Coal Authority Oppose Coal Mine Plan – Why Don’t We Know About It?


Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole
Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole

Even The Coal Authority oppose the coal mine planned under the Irish Sea. It is a mystery why none of this is reported in the press.  Those opposing the coal mine include:  RSPB, Natural England, National Trust, The Environment Agency, Colourful Coast Partnership, Coal Action Network, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and many more.   So why do the local and national press insist on parroting West Cumbria Mining’s own press releases?

There is a theory that this coal mine plan is a Trojan Horse to ensure deep mining infrastructure is embedded into Cumbria.  This theory is borne out by several facts:

  • The money financing West Cumbria Mining is from China, a country looking to make a killing (literally) from building new nuclear reactors here in the UK.  New reactors require a plan for the waste, what shady deals have been done in the corridors of power?
  • George Monbiot ‘the UKs leading environmentalist’ usually so vocal in his opposition to “the truly lethal coal industry”  has said nothing about this plan for the first deep coal mine in the UK for 30 years.  People may remember that George  is very keen on new nuclear and he could not find it in himself to congratulate  Cumbria County Council for very sensibly saying no to the deep geological nuclear dump plan in 2013.
  • There are so many groups opposing this coal mine plan for very good reasons but we are not being told this in the press.   Meanwhile the mega buck inducements are being ratcheted up.  Depressed areas of West Cumbria are being groomed to expect apprenticeships, employment and £millions of community benefits.  The infrastructure and workforce is being put into place for a deep geological dump courtesy of this coal mine plan.  The Operations Director, Steve Reece of West Cumbria Mining’s previous job was with the government on behalf of the nuclear industry.  He was tasked with ensuring the infrastructure and workforce was in place for geological disposal of nuclear wastes.
  • West Cumbria Mining talk of their “current focus” on coal mining suggesting that the focus may shift elsewhere once the plan is firmly embedded in hearts, minds and wallets.

There are many reasons to oppose this coal mine and maybe the geological nuclear dump Trojan Horse theory is a conspiracy theory too far?  However – the lack of press coverage on the damage that deep mining would do under this area of West Cumbria suggests that the plan is being given a free ride.  A free ride for as long as possible to allow the idea of deep mining to have fertile ground when the geological nuclear dump rears its head again?  And it will rear its head again unless geological disposal of nuclear wastes is given the thumbs down, as has happened in Scotland.

Here is The Coal Authority’s Opposition to the coal mine plan…

For the Attention of: Mrs Rachel Brophy – Case Officer Cumbria County Council

[By Email: developmentcontrol@cumbria.gov.uk]

4 July 2017

Dear Mrs Brophy


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

Thank you for your consultation email of 7 June 2017 seeking the views of The Coal Authority on the above planning application.

The Coal Authority is a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy. As a statutory consultee, The Coal Authority has a duty to respond to planning applications and development plans in order to protect the public and the environment in mining areas.

The Coal Authority Response: Substantive Concern

I have reviewed the proposals and confirm that the application site falls within the defined Development High Risk Area; therefore within the application site and surrounding area there are coal mining features and hazards which need to be considered in relation to the determination of this planning application.


Protecting the public and the environment in mining areas

The majority of the proposed built development is located clear of the Development High Risk Area, however, certain aspects of the proposal do encroach in the High Risk Area:

  •   The Conveyor Intermediate Access Station would be located within the zone of

    influence of recorded mine entry (shaft) 297514-001;

  •   The underground coal conveyor passes through a thick outcropping coal seam which

    may have been subject to historic unrecorded working; and

  •   Construction Access B (including road extension) and temporary laydown on the

    former Main Band Colliery site would be located within the zones of influence of mine entries (shafts) 298514-019 and 298514-020

    The Coal Authority notes that Chapter 13 of the Environmental Statement considers ground conditions and contamination matters, however, we do not consider that the contents of the chapter adequately address the potential risks posed by coal mining legacy to those specific elements of the scheme located within the Development High Risk Area as outlined above.

    The Coal Authority takes this opportunity to advise the applicant that any form of development over or within the influencing distance of a mine entry can be dangerous and raises significant safety and engineering risks and exposes all parties to potential financial liabilities. The Coal Authority has adopted a policy where, as a general precautionary principle, the building over or within the influencing distance of a mine entry should wherever possible be avoided. Our adopted policy on this matter can be found at: http://www.gov.uk/government/publications/building-on-or-within-the-influencing-distance-of- mine-entries

    It is a requirement of the National Planning Policy Framework, paragraphs 120-121, that the applicant demonstrates to the satisfaction of the LPA that the application site is safe, stable and suitable for development. In addition, the National Planning Practice Guidance in section 45 makes it clear that planning applications in the defined Development High Risk Area must be accompanied by a Coal Mining Risk Assessment.

The Coal Authority Recommendation to the LPA

In accordance with the agreed risk-based approach to development management in Development High Risk Areas, the applicant should be informed that they need to submit a Coal Mining Risk Assessment Report as part of this application which relates to those parts of the development proposal located within the Development High Risk Area.

Without such an assessment of any risks to the development proposal posed by past coal mining activity, based on up-to-date coal mining information, the Coal Authority does not consider that the LPA has sufficient information to determine this planning application and therefore objects to this proposal.

If the applicant ultimately fails to demonstrate to the LPA that the application site is safe and stable to accommodate the proposed development then the LPA may refuse planning permission, in accordance with the National Planning Policy Framework, paragraphs 120- 121.


Protecting the public and the environment in mining areas

The Coal Authority would be very pleased to receive for further consultation and comment any subsequent Coal Mining Risk Assessment Report which is submitted in support of this planning application.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you would like to discuss this matter further. Yours sincerely

James Smith BSc. (Hons), Dip.URP, MRTPI Planning Liaison Manager

General Information for the Applicant

Under the Coal Industry Act 1994 any intrusive activities, including initial site investigation boreholes, and/or any subsequent treatment of coal mine workings/coal mine entries for ground stability purposes require the prior written permission of The Coal Authority, since such activities can have serious public health and safety implications. Failure to obtain permission will result in trespass, with the potential for court action. In the event that you are proposing to undertake such work in the Forest of Dean local authority area our permission may not be required; it is recommended that you check with us prior to commencing any works. Application forms for Coal Authority permission and further guidance can be obtained from The Coal Authority’s website at: http://www.gov.uk/get-a-permit-to-deal-with-a-coal-mine-on-your-property


The above consultation response is provided by The Coal Authority as a Statutory Consultee and is based upon the latest available data on the date of the response, and electronic consultation records held by The Coal Authority since 1 April 2013. The comments made are also based upon only the information provided to The Coal Authority by the Local Planning Authority and/or has been published on the Council’s website for consultation purposes in relation to this specific planning application. The views and conclusions contained in this response may be subject to review and amendment by The Coal Authority if additional or new data/information (such as a revised Coal Mining Risk Assessment) is provided by the Local Planning Authority or the Applicant for consultation purposes.

In formulating this response The Coal Authority has taken full account of the professional conclusions reached by the competent person who has prepared the Coal Mining Risk Assessment or other similar report. In the event that any future claim for liability arises in relation to this development The Coal Authority will take full account of the views, conclusions and mitigation previously expressed by the professional advisers for this development in relation to ground conditions and the acceptability of development.


Protecting the public and the environment in mining areas