The following letters were sent to press on Monday – if anyone sees anything published please let us know- thanks!
To Local Press
All MPs in Cumbria have supported sanctions imposed on Russian companies and oligarchs, with the supplying of arms to Ukrainian forces taking precedent over any peace negotiations. There is however a strange anomaly in Cumbria with the appointment of a Russian government funded Director to West Cumbria Mining. In December 2022 just a week after UK Government approved the first deep coal mine in over 30 years in the UK Owen Hegarty officially joined West Cumbria Mining. He is founder and Executive Chairman of EMR Capital, the private equity company who put up the money backing WCM’s undersea coal mine near Sellafield. He has fingers in lots of pies. Back in December 2020 Owen Hegarty said “There’s never been a better time to mine coal on Russia’s Pacific coast due to China’s blacklisting of Australian coal So the new Director is an opportunist then – nothing wrong with that you might say. However this opportunist has no qualms about accepting money from governments. In the case of Owen Hegarty’s Tigers Realm Coal, the Russian government, to the tune of at least £30 Million.
The CEO of West Cumbria Mining Mark Kirkbride who appointed Owen Hegarty (WCM funder) is also advising the UK Government on the “biggest environmental project in the UK” aka an undersea nuclear dump for high level nuclear wastes (prime area in the frame is next to the coal mine). So much for national security – but hey we need the steel from Cumbrian coking coal to build Trident nuclear submarines to protect us from Russia who are also bankrolling the new Director of West Cumbria Mining. Why has this not raised lots of questions from those MPs who are “horrified” by Russia?
Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole – a Radiation Free Lakeland campaign
Letter to The Guardian
Following Government approval of the Cumbria coal mine the Guardian reports “coalmine is owned by private equity firm with Cayman Islands base” ( Sandra Laville, Environment Correspondent Thu 8 Dec 2022). The story does not end there. A week later on Dec 16th the owner of the private equity firm, Owen Hegarty was appointed as Director of West Cumbria Mining. Owen Hegarty is also the founder of Tigers Realm Coal who are responsible for bringing coal mining to a previously coal mine free area – in Siberia!.
Owen Hegarty the new Director of the Cumbria coal mine has not only generated massive environmental destruction in Chukotka and the Bering Sea area but has also been bankrolled by the Russian government to the tune of tens of £Millions playing fast and loose with the human rights of regional indigenous communities into the bargain. This is a massive scandal.
On the one hand Government is providing armaments to Ukraine against Russia and on the other it is approving an earthquake inducing coal mine near the worlds biggest stockpile of plutonium at Sellafield whose Director is bankrolled by the Russian Government. The same Cumbrian MPs who cheerlead for the Russian bankrolled Director’s coal mine are also cheerleading War against Russia rather than peace negotiations. It makes no sense.
Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole – a Radiation Free Lakeland campaign address supplied
Just a week after UK Government approved the first deep coal mine in over 30 years in the UK, a new director was appointed. Owen Hegarty was appointed by West Cumbria Mining on 16th December 2022. He is founder and Executive Chairman of EMR Capital, the private equity company who put up the money backing West Cumbria Mining’s undersea coal mine near Sellafield in Cumbria. He has fingers in lots of pies. Back in December 2020 Owen Hegarty said “There’s never been a better time to mine coal on Russia’s Pacific coast due to China’s blacklisting of Australian coal So the new Director is an opportunist then – nothing wrong with that you might say. However this opportunist has no qualms about accepting money from governments. In the case of Owen Hegarty’s Tigers Realm Coal, the Russian government to the tune of at least £30 Million. The CEO of West Cumbria Mining Mark Kirkbride who presumably appointed Owen Hegarty (WCM funder) is also advising the UK Government on the “biggest environmental project in the UK” aka an undersea nuclear dump for high level nuclear wastes (prime area in the frame is next to the coal mine). So much for national security – but hey we need the steel from Cumbrian coking coal to build Trident nuclear submarines to protect us from Russia who are also bankrolling the new Director of West Cumbria Mining. Why has this not raised questions ?
Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole – a Radiation Free Lakeland campaign
The new Director of West Cumbria Mining Owen Hegarty is also the founder of Tigers Realm Coal. The TIgers Realm Coal company propaganda shows images of handouts to indigenous people from the coal mine developers who themselves have taken tens of £Millions from the Russian government. In contrast to the company propaganda showing indigenous folk recieving handouts the truth is that indigenous peoples of Far East Russia fought Owen Hegarty’s coal mines because they knew that the land on which they depend to survive would be trashed.
Colleagues and compatriots! For more than a week now, members of the Altar community and their families have been confronting the contractor of the Chinese Shenhua coal mining company in Chukotka – CJSC Chukotskaya Torgovaya Kompaniya (ChTK).
To transport heavy machinery and equipment for work in the coal fields of the former Beringovsky district, ChTK uses spawning rivers, containers are dragged along them, and caterpillar transport goes. And all this happens during the spawning period of salmon and the period of reproduction and feeding by birds and animals of chicks and animals.
So far, this has only been stopped by blocking the path of technology, it was done by members of the Altar community, who were not afraid to resist the big money and resources of companies such as ChTK, the administrative and power resources of the government of the Chukotka Autonomous Okrug.
The history of this confrontation has been going on for several years. It all started with the North Pacific Coal Company ( a subsidiary of Tigers Realm Coal) which since 2007 has been engaged in the so-called “exploration” of coal deposits, while not giving a damn about work in the area where the northernmost spawning grounds of sockeye salmon are located, according to biologists, it was necessary to create nature protection zones for protection a long time ago. nesting and habitats of rare birds.
This area is also the southern tip of the long-suffering Beringia International Park, which has not yet been created, largely due to the unwillingness of the district authorities.
For more than two years, the head of the Altar family and tribal community has been trying to draw the attention of local, district, federal authorities to the barbaric ways and methods that companies work in these fields, acts were drawn up, photographs and videos were taken, but as we see, the authorities of Chukotka it is necessary to quickly sell the wealth of the country, without looking back at the people who live in the district.
We tried to appeal to both the President and V.V. Putin, we also appealed to the branch of United Russia, but this had no effect.
Now the situation is already in the red, critical zone.
Members of the community blocked the passage of vehicles along the rivers in Ushakov Bay. They are being threatened by ChTK employees, they are threatening to send a helicopter with the FSB, the police and to open criminal cases against them. At the same time, they refer to the Water Code, that it is supposedly possible to carry out work in the 20-meter zone of the river, mind you, the spawning river of a valuable breed of fish !!!
And do not believe that the essence of the conflict boils down to the fact that once again they came to “get rich” and “give us a job”, and here we are climbing with our fat people, almost dragging “progressive humanity” into the Stone Age. The situation is just the opposite – the Altar community, the indigenous people are for the construction of roads, so that there is work and children can learn new specialties, so that we finally move from an abandoned state to a normal human life, but at the same time preserve our nature because we want to live on our land and raise our children!!!
Colleagues, countrymen!!! We appeal to you with a proposal to support our fellow tribesmen !!!
Russian Government has a large slice of West Cumbria Mining New Director’s Coal Pie.
Our government are ignoring calls for diplomatic negotiations with Russia to take precedent over increasingly dangerous (and lucrative) war games while endorsing developments with ties to the Russian government. Makes no sense at all unless viewed through the business as usual at any cost lens.
Just a week after government approved the first deep coal mine in over 30 years in the UK, a new director was appointed to West Cumbria Mining.
Owen Hegarty appointed to West Cumbria Mining on 16th December 2022 is no ordinary Director. He is founder and Executive Chairman of EMR Capital, a private equity company who put up the £Millions to get West Cumbria Mining started.
In December 2020 the headline in Financial Review boldly asserted “There’s never been a better time to mine coal in Siberia” “Mining industry veteran Owen Hegarty says his Siberian coking coal venture is poised to capitalise on China’s blacklisting of Australian coal, as it embarked on an exquisitely timed $43.5 million fundraising on Wednesday. ASX-listed Tigers Realm Coal has been mining on Russia’s Pacific coast for three years”
So the new Director is an opportunist then – nothing wrong with that you might say.
However this opportunist has no qualms about accepting money from governments. In the case of Owen Hegarty’s Tigers Realm Coal, the Russian government: “The certificates of residency in the ADZ provide Tigers Realm with valuable benefits that include looser regulation, tax breaks and the ability to receive financing from Russia’s sovereign fund.” The Beringovsky Advanced Development Zone (ADZ) was created by Russian legislation to provide an attractive investment and administrative framework for investors and companies in the Russian Far East.
Without the Russian government’s largesse Owen Hegarty’s Tigers Realm Coal venture would have collapsed as according to Greenpeace’s Unearthed blog “A plan by a small Australian-listed coal company to build two massive mines in the Russian Arctic is teetering on collapse as local indigenous landowners voice their concerns, the coal price continues to crater and banks remain wary of funding the project.” The article goes on to reveal that “Before Tigers Realm Coal arrived on the scene, indigenous landowners – heavily reliant on fishing salmon – had endured a long struggle before finally winning legal title to an area of land around the Amaam lagoon, right near the site of the proposed project. The community, which actively opposed coal exploration in the region, was stunned when Tigers Realm kicked off its drilling programme in late 2010. The movement of heavy equipment over the fragile tundra impacted the protection zone of Amaam Lagoon during the crucial sockeye salmon breeding season.”
Amur Tiger (Siberian Tiger -wikipedia) food includes salmon which breed in the Amaam Lagoon.
In April 2014 Tigers Realm Coal received 36 million Australian dollars from the Russian private equity firm Baring Vostok Mining and 16 million Australian dollars from the Russian Government’s Russian Direct Investment Fund (£30M in total). According to Unearthed, Tigers Realm Coal (Tigers Realm Minerals Group TIG) have even bigger ambitions for mining in the Russian Far East.
Owen Hegarty’s appointment as Director at West Cumbria Mining hot on the heels of Government approval for the first deep coal mine in 30 years in the UK has raised not one eyebrow amongst NGOs or the press. This is despite the financial backing of WCM by Hegarty’s EMR Capital (largely from unknown sources) and the large slice of Russian ownership of Hegarty’s Tigers Realm Coal. The May 2022 AGM report for Tigers Realm Minerals Group (TIG) lists Owen Hegarty as “Independent Non-Executive Director” and “Founder of TIG”.
West Cumbria Mining have not yet found time to add Owen Hegarty to their “Meet the Team” despite the illustrious new team member receiving the Order of Australia Medal (OAM) in the June 2021 Queen’s Birthday Honours List for service to the mining and minerals sector.
It does make you wonder about the Orwellian hate directed at Russia by our government on the one hand and approving a deep coal mine near Sellafield with Russian Government backed Director Owen Hegarty on the other.
Also makes you wonder about the push for a deep nuclear dump for high level nuclear wastes, as the government advisor for the nuclear dump is CEO of WCM Mark Kirkbride. Kirkbride’s coal mine has been bankrolled by EMR Capital whose Russian government funded owner (to the tune of at least £30 Million) is now an appointed Director of West Cumbria Mining.
So much for national security – but hey we need the steel from Cumbrian coking coal to build Trident nuclear submarines to protect us all from evil Russia.
We have received a letter via Tim Farron MP which reveals the startling fact that the investigations into the reasons behind the pollution in Whitehaven Harbour “is being led personally by Mike Starkie, the Mayor of Copeland.” The Mayor of Copeland has been the most aggressive supporter of West Cumbria Mining from the off, telling people including Tim Farron MP to butt out : “In West Cumbria we are fed up with people from outside the area telling us what is best for us. The mine project is potentially transformational and will significantly improve lives and prospects of the community in West Cumbria.” Mayor Mike Starkie.
It is more than likely that the Mayor in his role “personally leading investigations” would divert investigations away from WCM’s exploration boreholes as a catalyst for the release of historic mine water previously held in place.
We have sent a further letter to the Coal Authority today via Tim Farron MP:
Thank you for the reply from the Coal Authority to our letter.
The reply is as you say disappointing.
There are three issues and a request we would be very grateful for answers to:
The Coal Authority have not addressed our urgent request that West Cumbria Mining are not granted a new conditional licence for the Onshore Area (Coal Authority ref: CA11/UND/0177/N). West Cumbria Mining require this grant of licence from the Coal Authority in order to carry out exploration/exploitation of the onshore area by September 2023 under 2 miles from Whitehaven Harbour. During West Cumbria Mining’s exploration of the Irish Sea off St Bees their contractors Priority Drilling from Ireland, caused a methane gas leak necessitating the call out of emergency services. It is therefore not unlikely that WCM’s explorations onshore, even nearer to Whitehaven, have also had unwitting impacts. We would like to see evidence from the Coal Authority why they think this is not the case.
The coal mine if given a new licence to drill will cause further damage to the integrity of already compromised historic mines. This was acknowledged by the Planning Inspector in his admission that “earthquakes cannot be ruled out.” At the planning inquiry West Cumbria Mining blocked calls for a Traffic Light System to be put in place similar to that required for the fracking industry despite the proximity to Sellafield, existing mines and the liklihood of ground movements due to earthquake, subsidence and routine drilling. Who will be (or is) ultimately responsible for damage resulting from West Cumbria Mining’s activities?
The Coal Authority ‘reassure’ us that the Mayor of Copeland, Mike Starkie is “personally leading investigations” by the CA, Environment Agency, Harbour Commissioners and others into the cause of the mine water pollution in the harbour. This is hugely concerning. The Mayor has a conflict of interest due to his aggressive promotion of West Cumbria Mining over several years. There is legitimate concern that the Mayor will as “lead investigator” do everything within his powers to direct investigations away from the role of WCM’s onshore (and/or offshore) exploratory boreholes, in being a catalyst releasing previously held in place mine water from the honeycomb of mines, coal, iron ore, hematite etc along the Whitehaven coast which is now a Marine Conservation Zone.
We ask, if necessary under Environment Information Regulations, for full disclosure of the laboratory tests and their results, carried out on the polluted water in Whitehaven Harbour since December 7th 2022
Many Thanks for all your help on this
Radiation Free Lakeland (Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole campaign) refs
Traffic Light System similar to fracking – rebutted by WCM
Earthquakes “cannot be ruled out” said Planning Inspector
MP Tim Farron told to ‘butt out’ of West Cumbria by Copeland mayor Mike Starkie
10th April 2019. Tim Farron MP told to “butt out of West Cumbria” by Copeland Mayor “
“In West Cumbria we are fed up with people from outside the area telling us what is best for us. The mine project is potentially transformational and will significantly improve lives and prospects of the community in West Cumbria.”
Mine Water Pollution in Whitehaven Harbour is Red Flag for New Coal Mine.
Campaigners have sent a letter (10.2.23) to the Coal Authority via Cumbrian MP Tim Farron urging the Coal Authority not to renew West Cumbria Mining’s conditional licence for onshore mining which expired in October 2022.
Radiation Free Lakeland have opposed the coal mine since 2017 on a wide range of pollution issues including “geological and hydrological damage to an already vulnerable area in close proximity to the UKs nuclear waste stockpile at Sellafield”.
Approval of Coal Mine – Whitehaven Harbour Turns Red
Secretary of State, Michael Gove approved West Cumbria Mining’s coal mine plan on 7th December, around the same time red mine water poured into Queens Dock, Whitehaven Harbour. The authorities have not yet found the cause and mine water continues to flow into the harbour and on into the Irish Sea and Solway Firth.
The letter from Radiation Free Lakeland’s Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole campaign states:
“We understand that the Coal Authority are currently working with the Environment Agency and United Utilities to try to understand where the contaminated mine water pouring into the culvert in Queens Dock, Whitehaven is coming from.”
Honeycomb of Old Mines -West Cumbria Coast
Campaigners point out that: “The contaminated water could be coming from any one or more than one of the vulnerable honeycomb of old mines in the Whitehaven area. Even if WCM’s exploratory testing is found not to be to blame for disturbance of the hydrology and geology it is surely prudent not to allow further mining in the area above Whitehaven which is very likely to impact the fragile geology of an already heavily mined coastal area.”
The Planning Inspector Stephen Normington, a former coal miner himself admitted that induced earthquakes resulting from West Cumbria Mining’s activity “cannot be ruled out.”
Campaigners warn that “The contaminated water pouring into the harbour is said by the Environment Agency to contain “metals” and our own citizen science test of the surface water’s ph at the far side of Queens Dock nearest the sea and furthest from the culvert, while the gates were open to the sea indicated that it is nowhere near the ph 8.1 that the surface harbour seawater should be. The test indicated a ph of 6 or below. This is veering towards acidic. The pressures on the Marine Conservation Zones of the Irish Sea and Solway Firth are becoming intolerable, including damaging investigation techniques for a high level sub-sea nuclear dump for which the coal mine boss is, incredibly, a key advisor with the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management.”
Do Not Issue New Licence
Campaigners urge the Coal Authority not to issue a new conditional licence for West Cumbria Mining’s controversial and potentially already polluting Onshore Whitehaven South Prospect.
[F14APower of the Authority with respect to coal mine water discharge
(1)The Authority may take such action as it considers appropriate (if any) for the purpose of preventing, or mitigating the effect of, the discharge of water from a coal mine into or on to any land or into any controlled waters.
(2)In this section and sections 4B [F2 , 4C and 4CA] below—
(a)“controlled waters” has the meaning given by section 104 of the Water Resources Act 1991; and
(b)references to coal mines are to coal mines vested in the Authority.]
Whitehaven News and other outlets are still wondering why there are metal pollutants in Whitehaven Harbour. Our Press Notice below outlines why we believe this is “No Mystery” – will West Cumbria Mining be protected with a cloak of invisibility over their toxicity in the same way as the nuclear industry is in West Cumbria?
Campaigners say that the brown water in Whitehaven Harbour is “No Mystery”. Nuclear safety campaigners Radiation Free Lakeland instigated the Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole campaign in 2017 and delayed the coal mine with legal challenge. They say that “West Cumbria Mining’s investigative boreholes carried out over a number of years have more than likely done damage to the complex geology within the existing honeycomb of old mine workings and activated the static mine water within those workings in which miners are still entombed from previous disasters.”
In 2016 correspondence seen by Radiation Free Lakeland between WCM and the their contractors ESI outlined this likelihood: “The main Environment Agency concern was the potential for increased flux of contaminants through the groundwater.” West Cumbria Mining and ESI brushed the Environment Agency concern aside by claiming that their investigative boreholes had shown through the flushing of 4 litres of water per second into newly drilled boreholes that conductivity would be “minimal” although “there is the potential for connection via the Byerstead Fault.”
Radiation Free Lakeland say that West Cumbria Mining’s investigations have proved the opposite of what they set out to do and that contaminated mine water previously held in place has been disturbed by West Cumbria Mining’s boreholes. They urge a full investigation and criminal proceedings against the polluters and and say that “this is a red light warning of what a full scale highly automated deep coal mine would mean for the health of Whitehaven, it is also beyond belief that Government is taking advice from the CEO of West Cumbria Mining on the digging of an even bigger and deeper hole under the Irish Sea for high level nuclear wastes. CEO Mark Kirkbride was appointed to the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management in 2019 and his remit is to provide costings and investigation techniques for a Geological Disposal Facility for nuclear wastes.
Many will have heard by now the awful news that the coal mine in Cumbria has been approved by Government. What the public have not been made aware of despite the banner headlines is the fact that the coal mine CEO Mark Kirkbride is advising Government on the UK Nuclear Dump plan. This nuclear dump advice includes “investigation techniques” which has started with the seismic blasting.
Radiation Free Lakeland’s Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole campaign has delayed the plan repeatedly with the amazing help of lawyers Leigh Day.
This is not the end of the story.
The mine still has to win approval from the Marine Management Organisation in order to mine under the Marine Conservation Zone, under the Irish Sea.
West Cumbria Mining have however told the Planning Inspector “We may not need a Marine Management Organisation Licence.”
We will be fighting to ensure that the coal mine does not bypass this regulatory process (as has happened with the seismic blasting to test the geology for the nuclear dump as advised by the coal boss and carried out under “exemption”)
We continue to be utterly appalled by the lack of attention on:
a) the earthquake potential of this coal mine which is so very close to the worlds largest stockpiles of plutonium at Sellafield, and
b) the appointment of the coal mine CEO Mark Kirkbride as Government advisor on investigation techniques, costings and construction of a very deep hole (Geological Disposal Facility) for heat generating nuclear wastes in the vicinity of the coal mine.
The Planning Inspector in his recommendation to Government stated : “the risk of a seismic event cannot be ruled out” ( Report to the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities by Stephen Normington BSc DipTP MRICS MRTPI FIQ FIHE an Inspector appointed by the Secretary of State Date 7 April 2022- 21.245.) Radiation Free Lakeland/Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole quoted extensively at the Planning Inquiry from expert reports showing that the coal mine would be “likely to induce seismicity”. The Inspector however concluded that due to the lack of technical expert witnesses from NGOs on earthquake risks to Sellafield “I consider the potential impacts in respect of future seismic events should be afforded limited weight.”
It is beyond belief that the CEO of a seismicity inducing coal mine near Sellafield should be employed by Government as an “invaluable” advisor on nuclear waste burial in a Geological Disposal Facility. The coal mine is in the middle of two target areas for a GDF. Radioactive Waste Management (now Nuclear Waste Services) who are advised by the coal mine CEO signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the British Geological Society in June 2020. The BGS are the very people who should be speaking out about the seismic impacts of the coal mine near Sellafield but they are collaborating with the CEO of the coal mine on nuclear waste dump plans. This is many headed cronyism at the highest level.
Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole (and Nuclear Waste Out) – a Radiation Free Lakeland campaign
“We urge all those speaking against the mine at the public inquiry to give at least a mention to the fact that this coal mine would mine out voids faster than any previous coal mine in UK history and would induce earthquakes and cause subsidence in the Irish Sea and Sellafield area.”
“Earlier this year, the first batch of waste was safely removed from one of the most hazardous sites at the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing site. “Perhaps they’re going to bury it down the pit,” says a resident with characteristic Cumbrian grit.”
Over the Easter period, the Coal Authority quietly awarded the controversial Cumbrian Coal Mine new “conditional” licences. The developer West Cumbria Mining’s original conditional licences granted in 2013 were valid for 8 years. W.C.M applied for a variation to their original conditional licences in January 2021. The new applications were approved on April 13th 2022.
Nuclear safety group Radiation Free Lakeland who run the Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole campaign have lobbied tirelessly for details of the new licence applications to be released to public view. Despite extensive correspondence between the group and the Coal Authority including an intervention by MP Tim Farron and an internal review, all details of the licences were refused public scrutiny claiming ‘commercial sensitivity.’ Campaigners say that what can be seen is that one of the new licences awarded includes Offshore Area 2, an area of the Irish Sea Marine Conservation Zone off St Bees. The nuclear safety group say that “according to the British Geological Survey most of this area offshore of St Bees and extending towards Sellafield has no known coal reserves” They go on to say that “the awarding of coal licences to the developer ahead of the decision by the Secretary of State, Michael Gove suggests that the Inspector has recommended approval and smacks of the most blatant cronyism”.
The group point out the close relationships between the former Coal Authority Director Stephen Dingle who appointed Sir Nigel Thrift to Chair of the Committee of Radioactive Waste Management, and coal boss Mark KIrkbride, described by Sir Nigel Thrift as an “invaluable” colleague on the Committee tasked with advising government on what to do with the UK’s growing nuclear waste problem.
Marianne Birkby founder of Radiation Free Lakeland said: “there is only one thing worse than opening a new coal mine and that is opening a new coal mine near Sellafield whose boss is advising the government on the digging of big holes for heat generating nuclear wastes”
Coal Mine developers, West Cumbria Mining have asked the *Coal Authority for new licences. Do Not Rubber Stamp the Developer’s Licence to Drill.
*The Coal Authority report to the Dept of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Kwasi Kwarteng MP is the Secretary of State
BLOCK WEST CUMBRIA MINING’S LICENCE TO DRILL
Leading Cumbrian Councillors had already reassessed their previous unanimous support for the first deep coal mine in decades in the UK and voted “No.” Through this No vote they have voiced their opposition alongside leading academics, scientists, politicians, the public and many organisations.
The reasons for saying No to new licences for West Cumbria Mining are not just “compelling” as Secretary of State Kwasi Kwarteng MP has stated, they are overwhelming.
There is zero need for a public inquiry at the expense of the public purse. The mine could be stopped tomorrow. All it would take is for the Coal Authority to block the developers new applications for a Licence to Drill. It is shocking that details of the new licence applications are being kept secret and from public scrutiny despite Freedom of Information requests from nuclear safety group Radiation Free Lakeland.
CLIMATE AND NUCLEAR SAFETY …OR RECKLESSNESS?
A block on the developer’s new applications for a Licence to Drill would not only save the public purse the huge expense of a public inquiry it would also send a strong message to the UK and our international neighbours that the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, who are responsible for the Coal Authority, are committed to both climate and nuclear safety.
While the significant climate impacts of this coal mine would be EXACTLY the same if this development had been proposed anywhere else in the UK, this coal mine is NOT JUST ANYWHERE in the UK. The mine would be largely subsea off the West Coast of Cumbria, would extend to within five miles of the WORLD”S RISKIEST NUCLEAR WASTE SITE and be directly under a massive nuclear waste dump known as the Sellafield Mud Patch.
COAL MINE UNDER AN EXISTING NUCLEAR WASTE DUMP?
Sellafield has been pumping eight million litres of “low level” radioactive discharges into the Irish Sea every day. It been doing that for decades and nuclear wastes (military and ‘civil’) still continue to arrive in West Cumbria. The nuclear waste discharge pipeline out to the Irish Sea is in constant use. The coal mine developers say there would be “EXPECTED SUBSIDENCE” of the Irish Sea bed. Recent reports have indicated this would most likely result in the resuspension of decades worth of Sellafield’s radioactive wastes now largely (but not completely) immobilised in the Irish Sea bed. Radioactive wastes including plutonium would be resuspended back into the water column, to ours and to neighbouring shores. The one thing not to do with a radioactive waste dump is disturb it.
COAL MINE ADJACENT TO A NEW HIGH LEVEL NUCLEAR WASTE DUMP?
The mine itself would be adjacent to the area being promoted as a “possible” Geological Disposal Facility for heat generating nuclear wastes under the Irish Sea. The CEO of the coal mine Mark Kirkbride has been appointed to the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management to advise government on “Delivery” of a Geological Disposal Facility (GDF). The proposed coal mine would make a void of 136 million square metres. Would this handy hole be used to dump mountains of rock spoil excavated for a GDF from neighboring rocks? What destabilising impact would this have on the neighbouring rocks? Is there a massive unresolvable conflict of interest at the heart of the forthcoming coal mine public inquiry? The final decision about the climate and nuclear dump-wrecking mine will rest with the government – the same government who have appointed the coal mine boss to position of top government nuclear dump advisor (for highly active wastes).
FARCICAL PUBLIC INQUIRY?
These questions (and more) should, but are not likely to be within the remit of a forthcoming public inquiry focussing on planning rather than key issues of governance and nuclear safety.
The public have already paid out £millions for this coal mine, to be precise, £2.5 Million in Heritage Lottery Funds for the Haig Colliery Museum which was then handed over to the developers for £1.
This is a coal mine that the public would keep paying for in more than money and climate impacts – the many headed hydra of both a slow burn and immediate nuclear catastrophe are overwhelming.
There is no credible case for this mine either on the basis of finance (no market), climate (flies in face of COP26) or arguably the most serious concern, nuclear safety (under decades of nuclear waste, undermining the geology near the world’s riskiest nuclear waste site Sellafield).
BLOCK WEST CUMBRIA MINING’S LICENCE TO DRILL!
DO IT NOW
BEIS Ministerial Responsibility for the Coal Authority, BEIS also responsible for the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management where coal boss Mark Kirkbride is a key member.
“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 frameworkwithin 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”
Sellafield Radioactive Discharge on the Irish Sea Bed directly beneath the coal mine plan and question of ‘Who is Responsible for Safety of the Discharged Nuclear Wastes?’ is subject to complaint being dealt with by the Information Commissioner
Who is Responsible for Radioactive Waste on the Irish Sea Bed – Call from Nuclear Free Local Authorities NFLA troubled by the UK Communities Minister not ‘calling in’ the decision over a deep underground coal mine in West Cumbria
Thanks to Whitehaven News and local press for exposing the fact that rock characterisation boreholes have already been drilled at the ‘Low Level Waste Repository’ to prepare the way for Near Surface Disposal of Intermediate Level Wastes. We note the industry response: ” this study is separate from ongoing activities to find a suitable site for a Geological Disposal Facility”
This quite frankly is a big fat lie. The coal boss Mark Kirkbride, with his hat on as key member of the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management, has provided costings to Government on “co-location” of Near Surface and Geological Disposal. In other words the Near Surface Disposal (NSD) facility for Intermediate Level Wastes would be up to 120 metres underground in silos. The infrastructure of the NSD above ground facilities, including security, access and the like would be shared with a Geological Disposal dump to “cut costs.”
Here below is the Press Release we sent out to all national and local press as you can see the “co-location” issue is highlighted as is coal boss, Mark Kirkbride’s role as key advisor. The media, with the exception of the Isle of Man have shown remarkable solidarity in omitting any reference to the conflict of interest and cronyism regarding coal boss, Mark Kirkbride’s 2019 Government appointed role in the push for nuclear waste dumping.
CUMBRIA COAL BOSS’ COSTINGS ON DEEP AND NOT SO DEEP BURIAL OF NUCLEAR WASTE DUE ANY DAY – “CONFLICT OF INTEREST” WITH MINING BUSINESS INTERESTS
Costs for the underground burial of nuclear wastes are due to be published shortly by the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM), campaigners have learnt. The Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) have tasked the CEO of West Cumbria Mining and CoRWM member, Mark Kirkbride with providing costings for geological and near surface disposal of high and intermediate level nuclear wastes.
Ever since the appointment of Mark Kirkbride to CoRWM in 2019, nuclear safety group Radiation Free Lakeland have argued that there is a deep conflict of interest at the heart of government on this issue. Government on the one hand will have the final say on Mark Kirkbride’s coal mine business interests and on the other hand are employing Mr Kirkbride to provide costings and “invaluable” advice on the burial of nuclear wastes. The Geological Disposal Facility is a major infrastructure project and is described by BEIS as “one of the most significant long-term environmental protection projects ever undertaken in the UK.”
Peaceful Demo at Drigg – on the Edge of the Lake District
Supporters of Radiation Free Lakeland’s new campaign Lakes Against Nuclear Dump (L.A.N.D) held a peaceful demonstration outside the Mid-Copeland Community Partnership “drop-in” at Drigg on Friday 11th March. L.A.N.D said “Drigg residents have been surprised to learn that 16 research boreholes 120 metres deep have already been drilled without any democratic oversight at the Low Level Waste Repository. The boreholes are part of a “feasibility study” for possible Near Surface Disposal of Intermediate Level Nuclear Wastes. Government policy would have to be amended for Near Surface Disposal to take place. L.A.N.D say “Locals at Drigg have every right to be angry about this. A map released under Freedom of Information as well as showing recently acquired long lease of the Drigg dunes shows the mining/mineral rights owned by the NDA and clearly shows a linked route from the Low Level Waste Repository area to the Inshore area of the Irish Sea. The mining and mineral rights mean that the NDA are able to extract rock without reference to anyone else.”
Freedom of Information answers have revealed that: “The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) has asked LLWR to conduct a feasibility study to assess the capacity of the LLWR site as part of their wider studies on near-surface disposal.
.. It includes the drilling of new characterisation
and monitoring boreholes that reach a maximum depth of 120 metres. All of
which are within the LLWR site boundary.”
“Co-Locate” to “cut costs”
The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority have stated in their 2020 position paper on Near Surface Disposal that “The assessment of disposal costs has been made on the assumption that a nearer- surface disposal facility ..would be co-located with a GDF.” This is say L.A.N.D a breach of trust regarding the nuclear waste plans and they have
sent a 30 page report “Nuclear Waste’s Shifting Sands On the Lakeland Fringe” to Allerdale and Copeland Community Partnership members with a letter urging them to withdraw from the “Community Partnership” which they have branded “fraudulent”.
The Mid-Copeland Community Partnership “Drop-In” at Drigg on Friday told Drigg locals that the 16 research boreholes drilled without any democratic scrutiny “are nothing to do with us.” Meanwhile, coal boss, Mark Kirkbride’s costings for the Near Surface and Geological Disposal of Intermediate and High Level Nuclear Wastes are due to be published any day now on the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management’s website. A decision on Mark Kirkbride’s coal mine is also due to be made by Secretary of State Michael Gove. In another twist of logic both the subsea coal mine and the subsea GDF would be within the West of Copeland area of the Irish Sea designated as a Marine Conservation Zone by Michael Gove in 2019.
Alexey Mordashov – the main shareholder and chairman of Severstal, a Russian conglomerate with interests in metal, energy and mining companies visited Whitehaven in 2017. The rumour on the harbour at Whitehaven where the boat caused quite a stir was that the Russian businessman was visiting West Cumbria Mining.
Now the yacht has been seized by Italy: “A spokesperson for Italian PM Mario Draghi announced the move on Friday night, disclosing the value of the yacht while stating it was taken near the coastal town of Imperia in the country’s northwestern extremity.
“Italy’s police [have] just seized ‘Lady M Yacht,’ a 65 million euros ($70 million) vessel belonging to Alexey Alexandrovits Mordaschov located in Imperia (Liguria) – in compliance with the recent EU sanctions,” the spokesperson, Ferdinando Giugliano, wrote in a tweet.
Footage purporting to show the police operation in action has been published by local media, showing an illuminated ‘Lady M’ surrounded by officers and law enforcement vessels”.