Image: Pollution continues to pour into Whitehaven Harbour – campaigners wonder if this mine water pollution would be tolerated with no end in sight in harbours in the Home Counties.
Sent to Press today….
KEEP CUMBRIAN COAL IN THE HOLE
Whitehaven Harbour Mine Water “Huge” Pollution is Red Flag for new West Cumbrian Coal Mine.
Campaigners are urging a halt to new coal mining plans and redoubled efforts to find and control the source of the pollution which has been pouring into Whitehaven Harbour at least since December 2022.
Campaigners asked two independent experts for comment on the data. Marine Pollution expert Tim Deere-Jones said that: “I’d be very confident in raising coal mining as the source…It would certainly be relevant to demand that the mine owners, Env Agency, MMO, NWS, DEFRA et’ al’ get on the case and identify exactly where the contaminated water came from, boreholes? faults in the seabed geology? old mine workings on land? If they refuse or fudge, it would be legitimate to postulate “in the absence of empirical evidence to the contrary” that all three (especially faulting and boreholing) were possible causes, that the new coal mine plan should therefore be abandoned and that clearly any sub seabed GDF in the relevant coal field was clearly and very strongly contra-indicated.”
Dr Marco Kaltofena US based environmental scientist with 30 years experience in environmental, workplace and product safety investigations has said: “no wonder it turned orange, those iron levels are H U G E. Cadmium, ammonia, and other metals (including nickel) are all elevated as well. They should have tested for arsenic and mercury too, especially given the elevated cadmium; but they did not. I strongly suggest having mercury and arsenic tested in the water. A separate sample of suspended solids should also be collected and tested for all of these parameters (plus radium, thorium and uranium) in addition to the water sample already done.
The original material was likely highly acidic, but would be neutralized once it hits seawater.”
Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole ask the following:
To reiterate our plea to the Coal Authority not to issue West Cumbria Mining with a licence to mine onshore at Whitehaven
To remove Mayor Mike Starkie as the lead investigator into the harbour pollution. Mayor Starkie has vested interests in directing investigations away from the existing impacts of West Cumbria Mining’s borehole investigations and future impacts of mass void removal (for coal and nuclear waste) in the Whitehaven area.
Dr Kaltofen strongly suggests having mercury and arsenic tested in the water as well as a separate sample of suspended solids collected and tested for all of these parameters plus radium, thorium and uranium.
Allonby Bay has just been chosen by The Rt Hon Dr Thérèse Coffey, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs,as one of only three Highly Protected Marine Areas in the UK. These sites will be designated before 6th July 2023. The intention of the HPMA is to allow the marine environment to fully recover from any harmful activities. The HPMA at Allonby Bay has been established to complement the existing marine protected areas of which Whitehaven is one. The contaminated water pouring into Whitehaven harbour water will have been polluting Allonby Bay just several miles away since December. Whitehaven itself is a Marine Conservation Zone. Do these so called “Gold Star” protections mean nothing?
Tim Farron MP has listened to concerns and is “ pleased to confirm that I have written to the EA Manager for Cumbria concerning testing. I have written again to the Chief Executive of the Coal Authority to forward the opinions you have received and I have written to the Secretary of State for DEFRA to urge her to investigate the efficacy of the Highly Protected Marine Area .”
The following is a letter to MP Tim Farron, following a reply from Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP Minister of State for Energy, Clean Growth and Climate Change, to our unanswered questions.
Thank you for sight of the reply from Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP, Minister of State for Energy, Clean Growth and Climate Change.
It was good to hear the Minister say that “I would like to reassure your constituents that Radioactive Waste Management Ltd (RWM), the developer of the GDF, has absolutely no plans to consider coal mines for the geological disposal of radioactive waste, because they are simply not suitable. ” We agree that no one in their right mind – even those focussed on “Delivery” of a Geological Disposal Facility would consider putting a GDF in the vicinity of a coal mine, let alone putting heat generating nuclear waste into a coal mine. This said we have to ask: Why is the coal mine slap bang in the middle of the Cumbria Irish Sea “search area” for a GDF when this subsea methane rich and faulted area is clearly “not suitable” for a GDF ?
CRONYISM – THE MOST BLATANT EXAMPLE EVER IN UK HISTORY?
This question of the relationship between the GDF and the Coal Mine has added piquancy given that the said Coal Mine is the business interest of Mark Kirkbride who is advising the Minister on the GDF having been appointed to a number of key positions on the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management. The Minister does not address the thorny issue of coal/nuclear/private/public cronyism in her reply to you.
To reiterate: In 2011 the same year Charles Hendry MP was prematurely congratulating Cumbria Council on their ‘steps towards geological disposal of hot nuclear wastes’, he was also cutting the ribbon on one Mark Kirkbride’s venture as CEO at Itmsoil a Sussex based International company specialising in instrumentation measuring stress in large scale construction projects. Mark Kirkbride’s Itmsoil company went into Administration in 2014 in order to give ”protection from creditors.” Charles Hendry was the predecessor of Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP, he was doing her job with the same responsibility for both the GDF and the Coal Authority.
FINANCIALLY VIABLE ?
The Minister states that the Coal Authority has to be satisfied that the coal mine must prove its financial viability before licences can be issued. We have previously made the point that the coking coal from this mine would not be the premium quality product first vaunted by WCM but would be of a high ash and high sulphur content and most likely unsaleable (as coking coal).
The latest accounts from West Cumbria Mining clearly state that the company is financially unviable. Staff have been laid off, the office in Haywards Heath has closed, the secretive financial backer is prepared to stand the cost until the end of the planning process and a third party funder says they are prepared to fund development, whatever that development is as we have not been given sight of it.
In fact No one has had sight of the latest licence applications from WCM as the Coal Authority is deferring to Mark Kirkbride’s wish not to make his development plans public. Given the relationship between WCM, CoRWM and with BEIS who have ultimate responsibility for both the Coal Authority and CoRWM this is an example of epic cronyism WCM have made much of employment of the local workforce but the Directors have a past record of using administration tactics to avoid paying creditors and then rise phoenix like into another incarnation. The amount of money spent by WCM on political lobbying (New Century Media/Tony Lodge – cosy visits by Mark Kirkbride with MP Trudy Harrison to BEIS) is in the £millions. It is clear that PR and political and financial chicanery is more important than keeping the WCM office staff on.
The paperwork has already been put into place by WCM to ensure that when it all goes pear shaped (or to plan?) WCM’s land and assets go to EMR Capital who are acting on behalf of other parties.
Further Questions include:
Why is Mark Kirkbride’s coal mine included slap bang in the middle of the Irish Sea “search area” for a GDF when as the Minister has confirmed this subsea methane rich and heavily faulted area is clearly “not suitable” ?
Why has the Coal Authority not stepped in already Blocked the Licences and prevented an expensive public inquiry for a development that local planners no longer support and is financially insecure? WCM’s latest accounts indicate financial insecurity with staff lay offs to “cut costs.” The coal mine with its high ash and high sulphur coal is no longer/never was financially viable.
Finally and perhaps most importantly but most ignored, Sellafield’s infrastructure just five miles away is at serious risk from this coal mine (notwithstanding the nonchalance of the Office for Nuclear Regulation). On the Sellafield site, the Magnox Swarf Silo for example has unknown leaks from unknown cracks in the concrete containment which is partly beneath ground. Sellafield have last month asked for help in finding and mitigating the leak of 550 gallons per day of radioactive liquor into groundwater beneath the site from unknown cracks. Fracking was halted because of earthquake risk and yet the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering have stated that coal mining induced earthquakes are of a magnitude greater than fracking : “Seismicity induced by hydraulic fracturing is likely to be of smaller magnitude than the UK’s largest natural seismic events and those induced by coal mining”. Sellafield is on the Lake District Boundary Fault and WCM plans to abstract profligate amounts of ground water from their newly voided mine via the Byerstead Fault – no one knows how these faults relate to each other. Why aren’t lessons being learnt in the Sellafield area from the fracking experience in the Blackpool area when coal mine induced seismicity is of a magnitude greater than that of fracking?
Many thanks for persisting with our questions to Ministers.
Thank you for your email dated 11 May, to the Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng MP, on behalf of your constituents, regarding the West Cumbria Mine. I am responding as this matter falls within my Ministerial portfolio.
The Coal Authority’s duties about licensing are set out in statute – in the 1994 Coal Industry Act – and to operate a coal mine an operator needs relevant rights and permissions including planning permission, a licence from the Coal Authority and to notify the Health and Safety Executive.
In general terms planning permission covers local social, economic and environmental aspects – i.e. is this the right place for this activity? whereas, a coal mining licence considers practicalities – can the mine operate in a way that is effective and financially underpinned to ensure that any land or property impacted can be compensated and the mine eventually closed in a safe and appropriate way. The Health and Safety Executive considers whether the operations can be undertaken safely.
When assessing an application for a coal mining licence, the Coal Authority are required to consider:
Whether the applicant can finance coal mining operations and related liabilities
The nature of the land or property that may be impacted by subsidence and that damage can be properly compensated by the operator.
That the operation will be carried out by properly experienced people In the case of West Cumbria Mining, this is what the Coal Authority will be assessing in consideration of the operator’s application to extend the term of their conditional licences. A conditional licence does not allow coal mining operations to commence (the purpose of a conditional licence is explained in the link above). As you are aware, planning permission for this mine is subject to an inquiry and it would not be appropriate to comment on the outcome of that but as outlined above, the Coal Authority assesses applications to it based on the duties set out in its enabling legislation.
To disclose the financial matters and commercial activity of the mine operator would be a breach of confidence to the clauses within their licence and their commercial interests. The Coal Authority also has a duty under S59 of the Coal Industry Act 1994 to ensure that it maintains confidentiality in respect of the business affairs of any individual or a business. Whilst the Coal Authority may be asked to input on aspects such as the history of the site or the quality of the coal, its processes are distinct and separate to that of planning and therefore any planning enquiry.
Given the Coal Authority’s duties under s59 of the Coal Industry Act, the Coal Authority have advised they would not disclose details of the application without the applicant’s consent.
Your constituents are also concerned that the coal mining licence applications are in some way linked to the process to find a site for a Geological Disposal Facility (GDF).
I would like to reassure your constituents that Radioactive Waste Management Ltd (RWM), the developer of the GDF, has absolutely no plans to consider coal mines for the geological disposal of radioactive waste, because they are simply not suitable.
The process to identify a site for a GDF is based on positive support from a willing community together with a suitable site. No sites have yet been selected. Two Working Groups (the first formal step in the process) have been formed in West Cumbria – in Allerdale and in Copeland – with more expected to be announced in England later this year. It is the Working Groups which will identify the initial search areas for a location for the GDF. The site selection process will stretch over several years and the decision to go ahead at a prospective location will ultimately be subject to a test of public support. It can only proceed if the community wishes it to proceed.
Thank you once again for taking the time to write. I hope you will find this reply helpful. Yours sincerely,
THE RT HON ANNE-MARIE TREVELYAN MP
Minister of State for Energy, Clean Growth and Climate Change
Thank you to everyone who has already written to the Business Energy and Industrial Strategy Secretary of State Kwasi Kwarteng MP urging the Government NOT TO ISSUE COAL AUTHORITY LICENCES.
There is a letter below from Tim Farron MP and the more letters from members of the public that ask for a full public consultation on the issuing of Coal Authority licenses for West Cumbria Mining the better chance we have of showing how politically unacceptable it would be for BEIS (who are responsible for the Coal Authority) to rubber stamp this dangerous plan over the heads of the public (Govnt having said it is a “local decision” they want their cake and eat it)
Our press release is below for inspiration on writing your own letters to BEIS and Kwasi Kwarteng MP
Contact Details for BEIS and Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng:
phone – 020 7219 5777
email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Twitter – @beisgovuk
PRESS NOTICE 22.1.21
Government Urged to Have “Courage” and Allow “Full” Public Scrutiny of Any New Coal Mine Licences for the First Deep Coal Mine in 30 Years
Tim Farron MP has written to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy saying “I am pleased to confirm that I have written to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy to urge that the renewal of the coal licence for the West Cumbria Mine be put to a full consultation. I have also challenged him to have the courage, where his cabinet colleague has not, and see to it that the mine does not go ahead”
This follows revelations by nuclear safety group Radiation Free Lakeland on the imminent lapse of West Cumbria Mining’s licenses from the Coal Authority. The group say that “It is our understanding that four of the five conditional licenses issued to West Cumbria Mining reach the end of their lives this weekend and that the issuing of new licenses by the Coal Authority would be a matter of great political significance at this time of change in appointments; not least the Secretary of State for BEIS and the President of the United States”.
The group who have run a Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole campaign since 2017, which has seen the plan repeatedly delayed, have urged their supporters to contact the newly appointed Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng MP. An open letter to the Secretary of State for BEIS says:
“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 have argued this week that the coal mine is a local decision. However 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”.
Nuclear safety campaigners 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.
Nuclear safety campaigners have asked the Secretary of State: “Do the 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?”
The nuclear safety campaign group are delighted that Tim Farron MP has called for a full consultation on the issuing of Coal Authority licenses for Cumbria.
Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole, (a Radiation Free Lakeland campaign)
Re: West Cumbria Mining’s Coal Licenses run out at end of January! (Case Ref: TF126325)
Thank you very much for your recent email with regard to the renewal of coal licences for the West Cumbria Mine.
As you are aware, I am extraordinarily critical of and disappointed by the Government’s decision to approve the mine. A new mine is a mistake and a massive backwards step into the 19th century. The Business Secretary himself has admitted that the new mine contradicts the Government’s environmental policies. I would be more than happy to raise this matter on your behalf.
I am pleased to confirm that I have written to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy to urge that the renewal of the coal licence for the West Cumbria Mine be put to a full consultation. I have also challenged him to have the courage, where his cabinet colleague has not, and see to it that the mine does not go ahead. I will write again, when I have received the response.
West Cumbria Mining’s licenses to exploit/extract coal onland and under the Irish Sea are due to run out any day. They need new licenses in order to mine both under land and sea!
We have written to Tim Farron MP (see below) asking him to ensure that the Coal Authority Licenses for the first deep coal mine in the UK in 30 years are not renewed in a clandestine and undemocratic manner over the heads of the public without any scrutiny or consultation.
We have also written a brief letter to the Coal Authority which you can see below. Please do write to your own MPs asking them to ensure that the Coal Authority do not rubber stamp new licenses for West Cumbria Mining’s “Woodhouse Colliery”.
With Many Thanks for all your continued opposition to this dangerously crazy plan.
LETTER TO TIM FARRON MP
Thank you for your continued stance against West Cumbria Mining’s plan to extract coal from beneath the Irish Sea.
We note that the original conditional licenses given to West Cumbria Mining by the Coal Authority are due to run out.
To run for five years and then they were extended for a further 3 years to the maximum the Authority allow for conditional license.
Which means WCM would need to start renewing licences by 24th January.
To issue West Cumbria Mining with new licenses would be a challenging political decision. The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is accountable to Parliament for the activities and performance of the Coal Authority. This means that the decision to issue new licenses to West Cumbria Mining could not be anything other than a BEIS, ie a government approved, decision. The Secretary of State’s ‘get out’ of devolving it to Cumbria County Council, Pontius Pilate like, won’t be available to BEIS.
The world has changed since the Coal Authority issued West Cumbria Mining with licenses 8 years ago. Questions of climate and nuclear safety have been asked about this coal mine. The mine itself would be adjacent to the area being promoted by BEIS as a possible Geological Disposal Facility under the Irish Sea. BEIS is responsible for the provision of and management of the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management who advise RWM. The CEO of the coal mine has now been appointed to CoRWM (Nov 2019). Its hard to imagine the proposed coal mine making the laterally neighbouring rocks for a BEIS/CoRWM/RWM promoted GDF become more stable!!
These questions of conflicts of interest of governance have not been answered and deserve full public scrutiny.
We urge BEIS and the Coal Authority not to hand out licenses to West Cumbria Mining over the heads of the public. There should be a well advertised, full public consultation by the Coal Authority over the issuing of new licences to West Cumbria Mining.
LETTER TO THE COAL AUTHORITY
Dear Coal Authority,
We note that the current licenses for West Cumbria Mining are due to run out very soon,
Please could we have confirmation of the dates the licenses are due to be renewed.
Has West Cumbria Mining applied for renewal of these licenses?
All to run for five years and were extended for a further 3 years ?
We note that exploratory boreholes resulting from the Coal Authority”s granting of conditional licenses over the last few years have largely been in the Offshore No 2 area including the one that inadvertently hit a methane gas pocket off St Bees necessitating the call out of the Irish Coast Guard. This area is immediately adjacent to the “site selection” area that is under consideration by Radioactive Waste Management/CoRWM for a geological disposal facility.
We request sight of any new applications by West Cumbria Mining for new licenses and also the opportunity to respond to those applications.
on behalf of Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole (a Radiation Free Lakeland campaign)
“As we enter 2021, we can look forward to two events that will help us to shape the global debate. We will host COP26 in Glasgow in November next year, where we will forge a plan and show our friends how we think net zero can be achieved. We will also enjoy the presidency of the G7. Given what has happened in the United States over the last few weeks with the election, there are huge opportunities in the G7 to drive forward this decarbonisation and net zero agenda.” Kwasi Kwarteng was appointed Secretary of State at the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy on 8 January 2021. This quote is from the parliamentary debate on the Future of Coal. https://www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=2020-12-03c.489.1
CEO of West Cumbria Mining Mark Kirkbride advises BEIS and RWM “on technical site evaluation criteria and plans for site investigation and characterisation” for a Geological Disposal Facility. Mark Kirkbride’s “Responsibilities:
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”
Ministerial responsibility 11. The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is accountable to Parliament for the activities and performance of the Authority and it is proposed that any new Minister with responsibility for the Authority will carry out a visit to the Authority within six months of taking up appointment to learn about the role of the Authority and its functions. Typically, we would expect the chair and chief executive to meet with the minister at least annually. 12. Specific responsibilities include: approving the Authority’s overall strategic objectives and the policy and performance framework within which the Authority operates (as set out in this framework document and associated documents keeping Parliament informed about the Authority’s performance approving the amount of grant-in-aid/grant/other funds to be paid to the Authority, and securing Parliamentary approval carrying out responsibilities specified in the Act including appointments to the board, determining the terms and conditions of board members, consenting to the appointment of the, approval of terms and conditions of staff (Including pay) in accordance with the latest pay guidance laying of the annual report and accounts before Parliament Framework document April 2019 3 Specific accountabilities and responsibiliti
Many thanks to Tim Farron MP who is asking questions on our behalf – this is his reply to us this week about lack of responsibility by regulators for the safety of radioactive wastes on – and off – Sellafield.
Thank you very much for your recent email with regard to the queries you wish to raise about potential seismicity from the mine and your concerns about radioactive waste and the lack of responsible parties.
The approval of the mine by the Cumbria County Council planning committee is a significant backwards step, especially in the midst of a climate crisis, and I was happy to offer my objection to the committee “in person”. Much of this feels like deja-vu having been here only last year. Now we await the Minister’s decision on calling in the application. As you may be aware, I have written to him to urge that he does call in the application and reject it.
I would be more than happy to raise your queries with which I agree. I think they are best raised with DBEIS.
That being the case, I am pleased to confirm that I have written to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy to submit your queries for his response. I will write again, when I have received the response.
With best wishes
TIM FARRON MP
The following letter was sent to Tim Farron MP to ask :
Who is Responsible for the Cumbrian/Sellafield Mud Patch which lies above the Coal Mine Plan and would be at certain risk of Subsidence?
Full text of the letter below…
Thank you for speaking against the plan to open the first deep coal mine in the UK in decades and for writing again to the Secretary of State asking for Cumbria County Councils “decision” to be called in. The council’s vote on 2nd Oct is not final, I suspect (but do not know ) that it would have to be ratified as the Secretary of State has issued a holding notice saying that the council could refuse the application but not approve it – only that they were ‘minded to approve’.
I was cheering your presentation to the council on until the bit where you advocated new nuclear on the greenfields next to Sellafiied. Our view, which is reinforced by empirical evidence, is that the radiological impacts of this coal mine would far outweigh the more obvious and (thanks to the work of Radiation Free Lakeland) acknowledged climate risks. The radiological risks remain a big fat taboo.
The 101 conditions placed on the planning application include several conditions relating to Seismic and Subsidence Impacts. These impacts are not ‘maybes’ they are definite consequences of mass void removal from the West Cumbrian coast largely from under the Irish Sea and the Cumbrian Mud Patch.
These conditions (see below) state that the developer would be responsible for self monitoring the known seismic and subsidence impacts. We know how this played out with Cuadrilla in Lancashire carrying out their own seismic monitoring and investigations.
Given our concerns we would very much appreciate it if you could direct some questions to the BEIS (or whoever you think most appropriate)
The Mayor of Copeland Mike Starkie told the Council in his presentation that Sellafield strongly support the plan. We assume this means the NDA/RWM rather than private contractors at Sellafield?
Does Sellafield accept responsibility for the decades of radioactive wastes which have settled on the Cumbrian Mud Patch?
If not, then who does and who would be responsible for resuspension of these radioactive wastes into the sea and ultimately to the shores of Cumbria? The Council? West Cumbria Mining? Radioactive Waste Management? Nuclear Decommissioning Authority? No-one??? Given that WCM will carry out mass void removal and have already drilled ‘exploratory’ boreholes through named faults near the Sellafield plant – The Rachel Fault and the Nethertown Fault – and plan to abstract unknown quantities of fresh water from the Byerstead Fault…..
Who would be responsible for seismic damage resulting in a nuclear accident at Sellafield ?
The Council? West Cumbria Mining? Radioactive Waste Management? Nuclear Decommissioning Authority? No-one???
Many thanks once again for voicing your strong opposition to the coal mine and I hope that you can find the answers to the above questions
Marianne Birkby Radiation Free Lakeland on behalf of Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole
There have been many peer reviewed and independent reports indicating that subsidence/disturbance of the Irish Sea bed will resuspend radioactive wastes into the sea. It takes just 4 years for radioactive wastes from Sellafield’s discharge pipeline to reach the Arctic. Far less time to reach our own coasts. The New Scientist has reported that Sellafield “reprocessing plant has released 40 000 billion becquerels of caesium-137. “So far, about 15 000 billion becquerels have reached the Arctic. This is between two and three times more than the contamination from Chernobyl, which is reaching the Arctic via the Baltic and North Seas.” https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg15420811-400-sellafield-leaves-its-mark-on-the-frozen-north/
Our own report to the Council from marine expert Tim Deere-Jones highlights the irreparable damage that would be done to people and planet from seismic and subsidence impacts due to massive void removal from under the Irish Sea near Sellafield and directly under the Cumbrian Mud Patch.
CUMBRIA COUNTY COUNCIL CONDITIONS ON WCM’s PLANNING APPLICATION RELATING TO:
SEISMICITY AND SUBSIDENCE
nb WCM would ‘self-monitor’
42 Phasing and Management for Paste Placement
Prior to the commencement of Construction Works, a phasing and management plan for the placement of paste in the mining voids shall be submitted to and approved in writing by the Mineral Planning Authority. The plan shall include details of the phasing of proposed filling activities, the volumes of paste to be transferred to the voids, the location and depth of the voids to be filled, an assessment of any risks associated with the transfer of paste to the identified voids and any mitigation measures necessary to ensure the transfer of paste to the voids to manage the risks identified.
The approved plan shall be implemented and the development shall be undertaken in accordance with the approved details.
Reason: To ensure the proposed development does not pose an unacceptable risk of pollution to controlled waters and to minimise subsidence in accordance with policies DC13 and DC20 of the Cumbria Minerals and Waste Local Plan.
66.Seismic Activity – Monitoring
No mineral working shall take place until a Seismic Activity Monitoring Scheme (SAMS) for onshore mining has been submitted to and approved in writing by the Mineral Planning Authority. The scheme shall include the following:
a) the methodology for monitoring seismic activity. This shall identify the potential receptors which will be the subject of monitoring, and the equipment to be utilised for monitoring;
b) the location for the installation of the seismic monitoring array to effectively monitor the seismic activity impacts on the receptors identified at (a); and
c) the arrangements including timescales and frequency of reporting the outcome of monitoring to the Mineral Planning Authority.
Once approved, the SAMS shall be fully implemented prior to the commencement of onshore coal mining and shall continue for a period of 6 years after the cessation of onshore coal mining. All monitoring and reporting shall be undertaken in accordance with the approved scheme.
Reason: To ensure that seismic activity events are monitored, investigated and mitigated in accordance with policy DC13 of the Cumbria Minerals and Waste Local Plan
67 Seismic Activity – Investigation
In the event that seismic activity which is attributable to onshore mining activity at any of the receptors identified at condition 66 exceeds a Peak Particle Velocity (PPV) of 6mm/sec the operator shall, as soon as reasonably practicable, carry out an investigation into the reasons for that exceedance. This investigation will confirm whether or not the seismic activity was induced by mining activity and, if so, identify the mining activities taking place, immediately prior to, the time the exceedance was detected. The outcome of that investigation shall be set out in a report and submitted to the Mineral Planning Authority within 7 days of the exceedance for approval in writing by the Mineral Planning Authority.
Reason: To ensure that seismic activity events are monitored, investigated and mitigated in accordance with policy DC13 of the Cumbria Minerals and Waste Local Plan.
68 Seismic Activity – Mitigation
Where a seismic activity investigation has been undertaken and reported to the Mineral Planning Authority under condition 67, and where the conclusion of that investigation is that the seismic activity was attributable to onshore mining operations, within 14 days of the receipt by the Mineral Planning Authority of the investigation report, mineral extraction shall cease and a scheme and programme for seismic activity mitigation shall be submitted to and approved in writing by the Mineral Planning Authority. The scheme shall:
a) provide the rationale for the development of the mitigation measures with reference to the outcome of the investigation;
b) detail the measures to be taken to reduce seismic activity;
c) provide a programme for the implementation of the mitigation measures derived from the investigation report; and
d) provide for an increase in the frequency of monitoring reporting to assess the efficacy of the mitigation measures which have been put in place.
Once approved the scheme shall be implemented in accordance with the approved programme.
Reason: To ensure that seismic activity events are monitored, investigated and mitigated in accordance with policy DC13 of the Cumbria Minerals and Waste Local Plan.
69 Subsidence – Monitoring
No working of minerals shall take place until a subsidence monitoring scheme has been submitted to and approved in writing by the Mineral Planning Authority. The monitoring scheme shall provide for monitoring the potential effects of subsidence on sensitive receptors. The scheme shall include the following:
a) The methodology for subsidence monitoring including establishing the maximum zone of influence of onshore mining by projecting from the outward edge of extraction a line outwards and upwards from the relevant seam at 35o from a line perpendicular to that seam so as to intersect the surface, the methods for recording existing ground levels, method for monitoring changes in ground levels, equipment to be utilised and duration of monitoring following the cessation of onshore mining;
b) The subsidence monitoring locations and the rationale for the number of monitoring points and the locations selected;
c) The frequency of subsidence monitoring, and the rationale for the frequency selected;
d) The arrangements for reporting the outcome of subsidence monitoring to the Mineral Planning Authority which routinely shall be no less than annually;
e) The method for the derivation of trigger subsidence levels at sensitive receptors which would represent a subsidence event; and
f) Proposals for increasing the frequency of subsidence monitoring and for the
reporting of that increased frequency of monitoring to the Mineral Planning Authority in the event that a subsidence event occurs.
Surface subsidence monitoring and reporting shall be undertaken in accordance with the approved monitoring and reporting scheme.
Reason: To ensure that subsidence is monitored, investigated and mitigated in accordance with policy DC13 of the Cumbria Minerals and Waste Local Plan.
70 Subsidence – Investigation and reporting
In the event that a subsidence event occurs, the zone of influence of the sensitive receptor shall be established by projecting downward and inward at an angle of 35o to the depth of seam being worked. Coal production within the zone of influence of the sensitive receptor shall be suspended until a subsidence investigation has been completed. The subsidence investigation shall determine the reason(s) for the subsidence event. The investigation shall review the mining activities taking place prior to the subsidence event being detected and determine which of these activities led to the subsidence event occurring. The findings of the investigation shall be set out in a subsidence investigation report which shall also identify the mitigation measures and a programme to be adopted to prevent a reoccurrence of a subsidence event. Where a subsidence investigation report has been concluded it shall be submitted to and approved in writing by the Mineral Planning Authority. Any mitigation measures shall be carried out in accordance with the Mineral Planning Authority’s written approval and the approved programme.
Reason: To ensure that subsidence is monitored, investigated and mitigated in accordance with policy DC13 of the Cumbria Minerals and Waste Local Plan.
Subsidence – Mitigation
Coal mining shall only recommence within the zone of influence of the sensitive receptor which was the subject of the subsidence event under condition 70 after the Mineral Planning Authority provide written notification to confirm approval of the investigation report and that the proposed mitigation measures are acceptable. Coal mining within the zone of influence of the sensitive receptor which was the subject of the subsidence event shall thereafter only take place in accordance with the mitigation measures approved within the subsidence investigation report. Reason: To ensure that subsidence is monitored, investigated and mitigated in accordance with policy DC13 of the Cumbria Minerals and Waste Local Plan.
Many thanks to our MP Tim Farron for presenting our petition yesterday in the House of Commons to the Secretary of State. Since presenting the petition the signatures have gone up..and continue to go up calling on the Secretary of State to call in the dodgy decision made by Cumbria County Council.
I present a petition on behalf of 1,852 residents of Cumbria who oppose the proposed West Cumbrian coal mine, believing, as I do, that in the fight to prevent climate catastrophe, it is vital that we keep fossil fuels in the ground. The petitioners request that the Secretary of State call in the application for his own determination at the earliest opportunity and that he rule against the opening of the mine.
Following is the full text of the petition:
[The petition of people of the United Kingdom,
Declares that a local petition has been collected against the proposed west Cumbria coal mine which should not be opened on account of the impact on the climate.
The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to call this application in for its own determination at the earliest opportunity and that it rules against the opening of the mine.
Protest by Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole following Cumbria County Council’s unanimous approval of the coal mine on 19th March
Cumbria County Council Plan to Ratify the Coal Mine Decision in Kendal on 31st October
*******Please ask to speak at the meeting (deadline to ask is tomorrow 25th Oct at 4.30) or write before the meeting on 31st October and ask them not to ratify this outrageous plan. Contact Democratic Services Officer – Nicola Harrison on 01228 226906 or email:Nicola.Harrison@cumbria.gov.uk
Following Cumbria County Council’s approval of the coal mine on 19th March, top lawyers Leigh Day wrote to them on Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole’s instruction with a set of key questions. The letter to Cumbria County Council put them *on notice* that their approval of the first deep coal mine in the UK in 30 years is putting the Council at serious risk of legal challenge. These questions were not answered during the planning meeting. The questions included the need for coal and the full carbon footprint of the mine. This letter from Leigh Day was made possible by crowdfunding. Cumbria County Council have acknowledged but not ‘replied’ directly to the letter from lawyers Leigh Day . However they are having a meeting about it on 31st October as they say that because of the threat of legal challenge from KCCH they now need to ratify their original decision (and try to pre-empt a judicial review based on the questions in Leigh Day’s letter)
One of the ‘replies’ to Leigh Days question about the carbon footprint of the mine is that it would be ‘carbon neutral’. This is magical thinking by Cumbria County Council of the highest order. Cumbria County Council assert that the Whitehaven coal mine would displace coal from elsewhere – but say campaigners a mine elsewhere is not going to suddenly stop mining because a new coal mine in Cumbria opens (five miles from Sellafield).
Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole have asked if they can speak at the meeting or make a statement on others behalf – for example their lawyers, Leigh Day.
*******Campaigners are urging others to contact Cumbria County Council with their opposition to ratification of the coal mine plan. People can email the Development Control Committee email@example.com asking that this outrageous coal mine plan is not ratified. You can ask to speak at the meeting in Kendal on the 31st October (see above) demanding that the original vote by Cumbria County Council is not ratified.
Quote: Ref No. 4/17/9007 West Cumbria Mining The meeting will be in Kendal County Offices on 31st Oct. at 10am We hope that as many people as can get to Kendal County Offices on 31st October will come along and demand that the Council do not ratify the decision to open the first deep coal mine in the UK in decades.********
Note: We only know about this meeting because of the diligence of Maggie Mason -a former senior planning officer. The Council have not replied to Leigh Day apart from an early acknowledgement to the letter
Meanwhile a petition has been handed to Tim Farron MP to give to the Secretary of State asking him to call the decision in for a public inquiry.
This is the full text of the Addendum Report from Cumbria County Council which will form the basis of ratification on 31st Oct.
DEVELOPMENT CONTROL AND REGULATION COMMITTEE 31st October 2019 A report by the Acting Executive Director for Economy and Infrastructure
Application Reference No. 4/17/9007 Application Type: Full Planning Permission
Development of a new underground metallurgical coal mine and associated development including: the refurbishment of two existing drifts leading to two new underground drifts; coal storage and processing buildings; office and change building; access road; ventilation, power and water infrastructure; security fencing; lighting; outfall to sea; surface water management system and landscaping at the former Marchon site (High Road) Whitehaven;
a new coal loading facility and railway sidings linked to the Cumbrian Coast Railway Line with adjoining office / welfare facilities; extension of railway underpass; security fencing; lighting; landscaping; construction of a temporary development compound, and associated permanent access on land off Mirehouse Road, Pow Beck Valley, south of Whitehaven; and
a new underground coal conveyor to connect the coal processing buildings with the coal loading facility.
Former Marchon Site, Pow Beck Valley and area from Marchon Site to St Bees Coast, Whitehaven, Cumbria
This is an Addendum to the Report considered and approved by Members of DC & R Committee on 19th March 2019, together with the Update Report dated 19 March 2019 (referred to together in this report as the “Original Committee Report”). It considers the implications of a potential challenge to that decision.
Having considered carefully the details of the letter from Leigh Day Solicitors, Committee resolve to ratify their original decision that:
Planning permission be GRANTED subject to:
i. The Committee determining the application on the basis of the reasons set out in the Original Committee Report as updated by this Addendum Report;
Reason for Committee Level Decision:
West Cumbria Mining Ltd 31 May 2017
ii. the conditions set out in the Original Committee Report;
iii. the applicant (West Cumbria Mining) and other relevant interest holders first entering into a Section 106 legal agreement with the County Council covering the heads of terms set out in the Original Committee Report and an additional financial contribution of £68,327 index linked for improvements to the Mirehouse Road / St Bees Road junction and the Mirehouse Road / rail load facility access road junction; and
iv. The Secretary of State withdrawing the direction preventing the Council from granting planning permission.
2.0 BACKGROUND AND CONTEXT
2.1 In March 2019 the Committee resolved to grant planning permission for the Mine, subject to conditions and a s106 agreement to secure various obligations including highway and heritage improvements and also a restoration bond. The latest redline boundary plan for the planning application as submitted on 10th December 2018 is shown on the drawing in Appendix 1. The s106 agreement is nearing completion. However the Secretary of State has issued a direction under article 31 of the Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (England) Order 2015. This prevents the release of the Council’s decision until the Secretary of States decides whether to call in the application to determine it himself.
2.2 On the 21st June 2019 the Council received a letter from Leigh Day Solicitors acting on behalf of “Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole” (KCCH) who were one of a number of objectors to the planning application. The letter contended that there had been material changes in circumstances since the Committee`s resolution that required the application to be reconsidered by Committee. The letter also contended that there were a number of alleged flaws in our Original Committee Report that could form the basis of a legal challenge to the Council’s decision.
2.3 We have reviewed the contents of the letter carefully and decided to address those matters in an Addendum to our Original Committee Report, given the time available due to the Secretary of State’s direction. This report itemises each of those issues and provides our response to them. We have also taken the opportunity to propose adding an obligation to the S106 Agreement for a financial contribution to the Council to ensure that works to the access with the junction with the public highway and necessary improvements to the Mirehouse Road / St Bees Road junction are carried out. The works are necessary to ensure the safe access and egress to the site and at the Mirehouse Road / St Bees Road junction and this has been agreed with West Cumbria Mining.
2.4 Normally the only recourse to challenge a decision to grant planning permission is a Judicial Review after the planning permission has been issued. However because we have yet to release the formal decision notice, Leigh Day has raised the issues in advance and the additional agreed S106 obligation, it is considered appropriate in this particular instance for the Committee to ratify its original decision having considered the issues raised and the additional S106 obligation.
The key considerations are whether any of the issues raised would have been capable of affecting the outcome of the Council’s original decision.
3.0 ALLEGED CHANGES IN CIRCUMSTANCES
3.1 The Council needs to consider whether any alleged new factor would have been capable of affecting the outcome of the Committee’s decision. What is required is a change that might have had a material effect on the Committee’s deliberations had it occurred before the decision was made. The crucial question is whether the new factor might have led the Committee to reach a different decision.
3.2 It is considered that neither the liquidation of British Steel, nor the change to a zero net carbon target might have led to a different decision. However, given that the Committee is being updated in this report on other matters, for completeness and, as a matter of prudence, these matters are addressed below.
3.3 a) Leigh Day consider that with the liquidation of British Steel in May, this reduced the need for coking coal in the UK and as a result undermined the rationale for approving the planning application.
3.4 The position regarding the liquidation of British Steel naturally has the potential to be a fluid situation, which might potentially evolve or change again, but it is not considered a factor that might have led to a different Committee decision in any event.
3.5 However, an update is provided on what is understood to be the current position from publicly available information. British Steel now has a preferred buyer. A subsidiary of the Turkish Military Pension Fund has agreed Heads of Terms to buy the Company subject to a two month period of due diligence (Reported in BBC news 16th August 2019).The expectation is that the Company will continue to produce steel and with that, there will be a need for coking coal at British Steel.
3.6 In any event our recommendation was not premised on the need for coking coal being solely dependent upon the fortunes of British Steel. In paragraph 6.514 of our Original Committee Report we said that “the UK`s steel manufacturing industry requires a supply of suitable grade metallurgical coal and that this proposal will be able to provide the industry with this essential raw material for the foreseeable future”. Furthermore, “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”. It was clear that we were talking about the British steel industry as a whole in paragraph 6.514 and not one particular company. In paragraph 6.404 of the Original Committee Report we clearly identified not just British Steel as a major UK steel producer but also Tata Steel and Celsa. However, it was also noted in the Original Committee Report that the target markets were wider than the UK in that “A mine located at Whitehaven would therefore provide a more local source of this essential raw ingredient for the European steel industry (including the UK)” (paragraph 6.406) and that in this context “The proposed scheme envisages that around 180,000 tonnes of coking coal would be supplied annually to the UK steel plants at Scunthorpe and Port Talbot (360,000 tonnes total), with the remaining tonnage (just over 2 million tonnes) being transported to Redcar for onward distribution and / or export” (paragraph 6.412). Whilst there may be some current uncertainty around the future of British Steel, we do not accept that there has been a change in circumstance of such magnitude that it undermines or materially changes the overall “need” case for coking coal as set out in the Original Committee Report.
3.7 b) Leigh Day assert that the amendment to the Climate Change Act 2008 (on 27th June) to change the carbon reduction target for the UK from 80% lower than the 1990 baseline to 100% represents another material change in circumstance that impacts upon our original decision.
3.8 Our view here is that whilst the amendment makes the target more challenging, the assessment made in the Original Committee Report in respect of the impact on climate change and efforts to reduce CO2 emissions would not change materially as a result of the change in the carbon reduction target for the UK. In the event both were treated as a key considerations in our Original Committee Report. (See paragraphs 6.39 to 6.56 of the Original Committee Report).
4.0 ALLEGED FLAWS IN DECISION MAKING
4.1 a) Leigh Day argue that there has been a failure to consider greenhouse gases (GHG) resulting from the mining operations.
4.2 The greenhouse gas emissions of the mining operations were not estimated, because our assessment in the Original Committee Report proceeded on the basis that coal production at Whitehaven would substitute for coal production elsewhere. Therefore, we consider that the greenhouse gas emissions of the mining operations would be broadly carbon neutral.
4.3 In paragraph 6.47 we said that “the opening of the mine would be unlikely to create additional demand for coking coal as the demand for coking coal is led by the demand for steel. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that coking coal produced from a mine in the proposed location is very likely to end up as a substitute for coking coal produced further away”. Furthermore in paragraph 6.406 we said “since the opening of the new mine is unlikely to have any impact on the overall demand for steel, it is reasonable to assume that the coal extracted would be used primarily as a substitute for (as opposed to in addition to) coal currently extracted in other parts of the world and imported by ship”. What we meant by this is that the emissions from mining operations at Whitehaven would most likely be a substitute for those of similar operations elsewhere rather than being a source of additional emissions. Perhaps put more simply, if the coking coal from Whitehaven proved more competitive because it is located closer to steel manufacturing plants of the UK and Europe than the rest of the world, then mining operations elsewhere would be very likely to reduce their output by a similar level of production, leaving CO2 emissions from extraction and processing in balance globally. Furthermore, if the coal from
Whitehaven became less financially competitive than alternative sources, then there would be no market for its product, which would mean it would then remain in the ground, leading once again to a carbon neutral situation.
4.4 In paragraph 6.503 of the Original Committee Report we attributed moderate weight against the proposal from the release of CO2 emissions resulting from the extraction and processing of coal. It would have been clearer if this statement in 6.503 had simply said that greenhouse gas emissions globally as a result of the extraction and processing of coal would be broadly in balance. However, this point was made in other paragraphs of the Original Committee Report (paragraphs 6.47 and 6.406), and additional explanation has been provided above in respect of the thought processes behind the views set out in the Original Committee Report.
4.5 The applicant has made provision for the capture and reuse of methane when the mining system is sufficiently developed to freely liberate methane and allow it to be effectively captured. This is encouraged by Policy DC13 and a proposed planning condition is included as part of the Original Committee Report that requires a Mine Gas Capture Management scheme including for methane to be submitted and approved before mineral working takes place and requires the gases to be managed and used beneficially in accordance with the approved scheme.
4.6 In summary, whilst the greenhouse gas emissions of the mining operations are very likely to be carbon neutral, it is still considered that some carbon savings must exist from reduced transportation distances associated with the more locally sourced coking coal at Whitehaven, as noted in paragraphs 6.43 and 6.46 of the Original Committee Report. This supports the original recommendation in the Original Committee Report.
4.7 b) Leigh Day believe that there has been a failure to consider the need for, and GHG impacts of, middlings coal.
4.8 In the Original Committee Report at paragraph 6.68 we assessed middlings coal as a by-product of coking coal alongside waste (predominantly rock). In other words it would be extracted from underground at the same time. By implication therefore it would produce no more CO2 emissions than that necessary to extract coking coal.
4.9 Although the Original Committee Report did not calculate what CO2 emissions might arise from the eventual use of middlings coal, we identified cement manufacture as a possible use (paragraph 6.70) and in paragraph 6.71 we said “I do not consider its use a substitute for other products for non-energy generation uses in processes such as cement manufacture would result in unnecessary environmental or social impacts. There are valid arguments made in respect of climate change, but I consider these issues could be better managed by applying regulatory controls at the point of use. The planning system has no direct control over the eventual uses to which this product is put, but it would be expected they are used in accordance with government policies and regulations which are requiring a shift away from the use of coal as an energy source. If there was no demand for middlings
coal, it would be disposed of within the mine in the same way as the rock”.
4.10 The premise of the Original Committee Report was that middlings coal could have a beneficial use that would not result in unacceptable environmental or social impact and that it was not unreasonable to allow material extracted as a by-product of the coking coal operation (up to a maximum of 15% of coking coal production) to be used as a substitute for other sources of fuel in industrial processes (instead of requiring this product to be disposed of as mine waste).
4.11 The exact markets would be likely to change over time, although the applicant suggested the cement industry was one possible customer. The burning of middlings coal would undoubtedly result in the generation of some CO2, and it is for this reason that the Original Committee Report drew attention to the fact that “there are valid arguments made in respect of climate change” on that issue (paragraph 6.71). However, the Original Committee Report went on say that we considered that the control of climate change impacts from the middlings coal by- product would “be better managed by applying regulatory controls at the point of use” (paragraph 6.71).
4.12 The reason we considered regulatory controls at the point of use would be the best method of managing CO2 emissions is because of the difficultly in attempting to control the use of the middlings coal product through the planning system, since the uses to which a product is put is not a land use issue, and could not be controlled through the use of planning conditions or legal agreements. Furthermore, we do not consider that it would be possible to predict all the future markets for the product at a variety of unknown sites during the lifetime of the mine and be able to assess the environmental effects of using middlings coal or weigh the emissions in a carbon balance on the basis of what it might substitute for in any meaningful way. An assessment of this basis would not be a reasonable requirement to expect.
4.13 Industrial uses for the middlings coal would have impacts proportionate to the alternative fuel source it was substituting for, and in some cases this might be carbon neutral, but in others cases potentially not. However, an important issue that was made clear in the Original Committee Report at paragraph 6.70, is that middlings coal was not suitable for burning in thermal power stations due to its inherent characteristics and the nature of the boilers. Government policy in any case, is to stop coal being used to generate energy in the near future.
4.14 In acknowledging the valid arguments made in respect of climate change and the middlings coal, we were clear that this issue was weighed in the planning balance, but was not considered of sufficient weight as to justify the refusal of the planning permission for the extraction of coking coal, or to require a condition requiring disposal of the middlings coal product within the mine in order to make the development acceptable, as there were other determinative factors as set out above and in paragraphs 6.70, 6.71 and 6.74 of the Original Committee Report, including that there would be a condition restricting the output of middlings coal from the mine to a maximum of 15% as considered necessary as a matter of planning judgement.
4.15 c) Leigh Day allege a failure to consider the GHG impacts of an increase in
4.16 This ground of alleged error is based on the assumption that the Whitehaven mine would add substantially to the global stock of fossil fuels and thereby increase the likelihood of GHG emissions. However, we did not consider that this was likely to be the case and this point has already been covered by my paragraph 4.1 a); there would be no increase in CO2 as the opening of the mine would be offset by the very likely reduction in production elsewhere due to competition.
4.17 The middlings coal by-product of the coking coal is addressed in 4.6 b) above.
4.18 It was also claimed that it would be possible for metallurgical coal to be exported further afield from Europe. In the Original Committee Report at paragraphs 6.408 and 6.410 however we confirmed that there was “undoubtedly a current demand within the UK and EU for coking coal” (para 6.413) and concluded that it was “reasonable to assume that demand for steel and coking coal will continue to exist both within the UK and EU for the foreseeable future” (para 6.414). In addition the Committee was told by Mr Kirkbride of WCM (see Committee minutes) “that two large steelworks (at Scunthorpe and Port Talbot) have expressed a desire to buy their product and that major steelmakers in Europe have expressed a wish to source coking coal locally instead of imports coming from afar, including the USA”. Whilst it is always possible for coal to be exported outside Europe and this cannot be controlled by the planning permission, there appeared sufficient demand for coking coal within it to justify the “need” case. Furthermore, if demand in Europe is lower than expected, then production would very likely reduce so it remains in balance with the available local markets. The more remote the potential market from the proposed Whitehaven mine site, the more likely a closer source to that potential market would be more economically competitive.
4.19 Leigh Day contend that the Whitehaven mine could depress the worldwide price of coal, which in turn could lead to an increase in demand. We acknowledged this as a duly made objection in paragraph 6.45 of the Original Committee Report. The issue was addressed in paragraphs 6.46 and 6.47 and we went onto say “however the opening of a mine would be unlikely to create additional demand for coking coal as the demand for coking coal is led by the demand for steel. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that coking coal produced from a mine in the proposed location is very likely to end up as a substitute for coking coal produced further away” (paragraph 6.47). The whole basis of our view now and then was that there is only a finite demand for steel and if you add capacity to the supply of coking coal, it is very likely that coking coal producers further afield would reduce their production whilst they sell off their surplus stocks and that coking coal produced from a mine in the proposed location would end up as a substitute for coking coal produced further away. As such, we consider that worldwide prices would generally be unaffected.
4.20 d) Leigh Day consider that we have acted unlawfully by failing to apply Policy ENV2 of the adopted Copeland Local Plan.(2013-2028)
4.21 Policy EV2 was not listed as a relevant Policy at paragraph 6.5 of the Original
Committee Report. What that Policy says is 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”
4.22 Although not listed, we took full account of the policy in the Original Committee Report and considered it to be relevant to the application. A Policy does not have to be specifically referred to by name as long as it is clear it was otherwise fully considered. That is how the policy was addressed in the Original Committee Report, which did deal with the implications for the Heritage Coast. At paragraph 6.375, the Original Committee Report states that “the development would have also have a moderate adverse impact relating to the heritage sensitivity of the St Bees Heritage Coast” This is repeated in paragraphs 6.383 and 6.507. I am satisfied that the matter was adequately addressed in the Original Committee Report and the Committee should take account of it.
5.0 S106 OBLIGATION
5.1 The Original Committee Report states that “Works would also be carried out to the Mirehouse Road / St Bees Road junction where the turning radius will be adjusted to improve the operational safety of the junction” (paragraph 6.267). Improvements are also needed to the Mirehouse Road / rail load facility access road junction. These works are necessary in relation to the development and the applicant has agreed to fund the Council to do the works as part of the S106 Agreement. It is proposed that the additional financial contribution will be added to the Agreement.
6.1 It is unusual to have such a long gap in time between Committee making a resolution and the release of a decision, but this has been unavoidable, given the Secretary of State direction to the Council not to grant planning permission until further notice from him. However, this has given Officers the opportunity to update and advise the Committee on the matters raised by Leigh Day, along with seeking Committee approval of the additional S106 contribution. In this case I am content on the basis of this report that there is nothing that would warrant a different recommendation or that would put the Council’s original decision at significant “risk” and members should take into account all of the previous material considerations as updated by this report, including the previous representations and objections.
6.2 Officers continue to consider that the proposed development accords with the Development Plan as a whole, it is recommended that planning permission is granted and there are no other material considerations that indicate otherwise.
Ref No. 4/17/9007 Development Control and Regulation Committee –
APPENDIX 1 – PLAN OF SITE LOCATION/EXTENT 31 October