The Planning Meeting has been deferred again -Just How Long is This Piece of String and What is at the End of It…

Piece of String

Dear Friends,

The Planning meeting to determine the Coal Mine Plan has been deferred yet again – this is several times now….must be going for some kind of record.

Anyway the upshot is that the last deferrment of 30th May was to be deferred to July 11th but following our enquiries the latest message from Cumbria County Council is that they really don’t know.

Here is a message from the Democratic Services Manager

“At this stage I honestly don’t know when it will be all I can confirm at this
stage is that it won’t be 30 May.  I will try to get hold on the DCR
Manager for an update and come back to you as soon as I can with a more definite
update.   Really sorry I know it must be frustrating for you to try to
organise your plans around such a vague timetable. ”

Jackie Currie Senior Democratic Services Officer Legal &Democratic Services Cumbria

So there you have it.  Clear as mud.  I suppose it could be argued that it is a good thing that Cumbria County Council and others are not satisfied with the answers to further information that has been asked for.  It gives us more time to garner opposition too.

On the other hand in all this while, it allows West Cumbria Mining to get their feet firmly under the table in West Cumbria with money that has come from who knows where (for who knows what) to bribe and coerce the local population into thinking that deep mining in close proximity to Sellafield is a good thing.  There are a few reasons to be suspicious about the long running time of this planning proposal.

Will Let You Know As Soon As We Do.

If you hear anything perhaps you could let us know!!

Briefing Note from Radiation Free Lakeland on the Coal Mine Plan

Poster small

All Councillors on the Committee making the decision have been sent the following Briefing Note from Radiation Free Lakeland.  Please do use this as an inspiration for your own objections to the first deep coal mine in the UK for 30 years.  The planning meeting has been deferred (fourth time this!)  until May 30th so more time to get your fingers dancing on the keyboards, get those pens out, get on the phone to Councillors and Object, Object Object!!! Councillor Details here




 Part 1

  • Wildlife
  • Health
  • Seismic Activity and Sellafield

Part 2

  • Climate
  • Planning
  • Employment

 Part 1


The West Cumbria Mining proposal would have adverse impacts on designated sites of national and international importance

Minewater Discharge and The Cumbria Coast Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ)

The National Trust have said: “We are particularly concerned in regard to the potential impact upon the wider marine and coastal environment of the discharge of water into the sea, which has been pumped from the flooded anhydrite mine.” RSPB have also noted concerns regarding potential pollution of the Marine Conservation Zone.

Seismic impacts on St Bees Head Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)

West Cumbria Mining conclude that “minor seismic events will be significant below a magnitude 3 event, and any event which may occur as a result of mining activities will not cause damage to people, property or the natural environment” (Page 75 of the WCM Addendum: Seismicity). . The RSPB in their submission note that “We consider it imperative that the Council deploy a suitable level of expertise to ensure that the additional information provided by the applicant provides a robust assessment of the potential for seismic events – both in magnitude and frequency – to have an adverse effect upon designated sites listed above. In particular, upon the notified features of the SSSI – which include geological features and isolated breeding bird colonies. It should be noted that the SSSI supports England’s only breeding black guillemot – which are small in number and already vulnerable to stochastic events.”

Noise Disturbance, Dust, Vibrations etc.

The development has the potential to have an adverse effect upon the St Bees Head SSSI through disturbance to breeding birds during excavations and coal processing. Notwithstanding the developers assurances the RSPB state “In our previous response, we considered that there was insufficient evidence to be able to evaluate the potential for impacts upon the SSSI, nor the efficacy of the proposed mitigation. In particular, the noise assessment detailed in Chapter 14 does not make the link between the development and any ecological receptors. We note that no further evidence has been presented by the applicant in this regard. In summary, the RSPB’s opinion is unchanged – in that insufficient information has been submitted by the applicant to allow a robust assessment of the potential ecological impacts of this proposal.”

Solway Firth European Designated Site (Natura 2000)Precaution must be adopted when considering potential impacts from a development adjacent (1.5km) to an internationally recognised marine environment


The old Marchon Chemical plant and Anhydrite mine that fed it are key to the WCM application. As referenced above, The anhydrite mine would need to be dewatered. This would exacerbate the previous legacy operations which are still having a “significant” impact on health.

“There is also a significant radiological impact due to the legacy of past discharges of radionuclides from non-nuclear industrial activity that also occur naturally in the environment. This includes radionuclides discharged from the former phosphate processing plant at Whitehaven, and so monitoring is carried out near this site.” Radioactivity in Food and the Environment 2016.

These cumulative assaults on West Cumbrian health would be additional to well documented climate change health impacts and the intolerable danger that this mine would represent to the safe stewardship of Sellafield


At just 8km away from Sellafield (even nearer to Moorside) according to West Cumbria Mining this development is ridiculously near to over 140 tons of plutonium.   Increased tremors and quakes resulting from mining is well documented The potential for man-made tremors at the Sellafield site is too awful to contemplate.

There are~20 large holding tanks at Sellafield containing thousands of litres of extremely radiotoxic fission products.”

Nuclear Management Partners, stated in 2012: “There is a mass of very hazardous [nuclear] waste onsite in storage conditions that are extraordinarily vulnerable.

The National Audit Office (NAO) stated these tanks pose “significant risks to people and the environment”. These dangerous tanks have also been the subject of repeated complaints from Ireland and Norway who fear their countries could be contaminated if explosions or fires were to occur.

  • The North Western Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority have submitted to Cumbria County Council that

“Offshore Subsidence – resuspension and dispersal of radioactive contaminants. The documentation has confirmed to NWIFCA that a risk of subsidence exists and therefore there remains an overwhelming concern over the potential for disturbance and resuspension of radioactive contaminants and sediments.

Radiation Free Lakeland agree and would add that this risk of subsidence of the seabed would enable the resuspension of decades worth of radioactive and chemical contaminants not only from Sellafield but also from the firing of depleted uranium shells into the Irish Sea and the Solway Firth.




The WCM proposal fails to quantify the overall carbon emissions resulting from it’s activity. It also fails to address the climate impact of its activity. The application is clearly incompatible with national and international climate change policy and legislation as summarised below.

  • The UK is signatory to the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement committing us to the rapid phase-out of fossil fuels.


  • The UK is working to the 2008 Climate Change Act committing us to a legally binding 80% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050. The UK will phase out coal for electricity generation by 2025.   The proposed 50 year lifespan of the mine goes well beyond the UKs existing commitment to bring carbon emissions nationally to zero. When the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change publishes their latest report later in 2018 it is acknowledged that UK legislation will need yet further strengthening to meet our international carbon reduction commitments.


  • The National Planning Policy Framework states –


Para 93 ‘“Planning plays a key role in helping to shape places to secure radical reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, minimising vulnerability and providing resilience to the impacts of climate change and supporting the delivery of renewable and low carbon energy and associated infrastructure. This is central to the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development”

Para 149. ‘Permission should not be given for the extraction of coal unless the proposal is environmentally acceptable, or can be made so by planning conditions or obligations; or if not, it provides national, local or community benefits which clearly outweigh the likely impacts to justify the grant of planning permission.’


  • The proposed Woodhouse Colliery would produce combined CO2 from the methane emissions of the mine; the energy used in running the mine itself and transport; the burning of the lower class of coal and the burning of the higher class coal in steelmaking. At a production rate of 2.8Mt/year the produced coal would generate 1.24Mt CO2.


  • The WCM application seems to imply that coal used in steelmaking does not produce CO2 emissions. This is clearly not the case. WCM even claim to be reducing CO2 emissions compared to importing coal from the USA.     Some of the CO2 would be produced in Cumbria and some at the locations of steelmaking where the coal is to be exported.   Given that all countries are equally bound by the Paris Agreement and equally committed to reducing fossil fuel use – it is highly unlikely that steel manufacturers will be seeking to import Cumbrian coal.   There is rapid innovation in steel making processes to eliminate the fossil fuel component and the unknown impact of Brexit.



  • The FOE submission July 2017 states – ‘Despite the applicant’s stated intentions for the use of coke coal, the proposal is nonetheless incompatible with recent government announcements and consultations linked to coal phase-out. Its use within ore extraction and steel making will inevitably lead to its being burnt and CO2 release. . . . . coal is on the way out and applications for its extraction are incompatible with government’s strategic approach which aims to reduce its well documented contribution to climate change.’


  • FOE also state in Oct 2017 – ‘Our view is that the applicants have failed to demonstrate the scheme’s ability to comply with UK carbon budgets and to satisfy Schedule 4 of the 2011 EIA regulations (re consideration of significant impacts on…” climatic factors”)’



  • There are also planning issues relating to carbon, climate, subsidence and pollution issues which relate to other nations within and outwith the UK and the necessary consultation with such nations.



The NPPF statement on achieving sustainable development states –

‘International and national bodies have set out broad principles of sustainable development. Resolution 42/187 of the United Nations General Assembly defined sustainable development as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. The UK Sustainable Development Strategy Securing the Future set out five ‘guiding principles’ of sustainable development: living within the planet’s environmental limits; ensuring a strong, healthy and just society; achieving a sustainable economy; promoting good governance; and using sound science responsibly.’


The people of West Cumbria need employment opportunities to be sustainable in all senses – both economically and in terms of low carbon.

In addition to failing to provide a sustainable environment – the WCM application clearly fails to provide both a sustainable economy or sustainable employment.   There can be no jobs, economic growth or prosperity when the fossil fuel products are no longer viable.


One model for the creation of sustainable local economies is that of CLES which is gaining great interest – and action – among various Local Authorities in the North West and beyond. ‘ CLES is the UK’s leading, independent think and do tank realising progressive economics for people and place. Our aim is to achieve social justice, good local economies and effective public services for everyone, everywhere.


Additional Info

Coal Mining Causes Earthquakes – National Geographic


Fisheries and Conservation Authority Concerns: Irish Sea Subsidence and Resuspension of Radionuclides


Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the Steel Industry


World Steel Figures in 2017


Sweden aims for first place in carbon free steel race


Beginners Guide to Fossil Fuel Divestment


Progressive Economics for people and place


The Preston Model

The Ecologist Exposes the Cumbrian Coal Mine Plan

Excellent article in the Ecologist by Sam Moisha…

An Extract Below.  Full Article can be read here

A new deep coal mine deep under the sea? Next to Sellafield? Really?

Sam Moisha

| 5th February 2018

Architect's drawing of proposed new mine

An architect’s drawing of the proposed new Woodhouse Colliery deep mine at the former Marchon Industrial site near Woodhouse.

West Cumbria Mining
The first deep coal mine in Britain for thirty years is being proposed at Whitehaven, with the promise of new jobs in an old mining community. But the site is within five miles of Sellafield. Activists are concerned both about the definite contribution to climate change, as well as the potential threat of a nuclear accident. SAM MOISHA sets out their concerns

The potential for earth tremors and quakes resulting from mining is well known.  The potential for man-made tremors at the Sellafield site is too awful to contemplate.

The first deep coal mine in Britain for 30 years is being proposed in a planning application due to be heard in Kendal on 7 March 2018.  Woodhouse Colliery is proposed for Whitehaven, which is a former mining community with a lot of identity and even nostalgia caught up in the industry. It is also an area with a desperate shortage of jobs.

Mark Kirkbride and West Cumbria Mining [WCM] have applied for consent to build a ‘state of the art’ mine extending under the Irish Sea to extract coking coal for export to the steel industry.  The coal would be taken by train to Redcar for shipping.

Disused anhydrite mine drift tunnels would be reopened to access the coal and the surface buildings would be on a disused ex industrial site known as the Chemical Factory. The old Marchon Chemical works  produced products from Anhydrite. These included detergents and sulphuric acid.

Employment prospects

WCM put the output of coal at 3.2 million tonnes per annum.  The coal is planned mostly for export to the steel making industry in Europe where the resulting carbon emissions will run directly counter to the Paris agreement on climate change. 

The digging up and burning of such quantities of fossil fuel is clearly completely out of kilter with both UK and international policy.

Cumbria has seen it’s share of extreme climate events in recent years, in particular the severe flooding of Storm Desmond. Allowing Woodhouse Colliery to go ahead would be ensuring that Cumbrian coal plays a part in increased floods, droughts, mudslides, crop failures, famine and wildfires at an international level.

The claim by WCM that they are reducing emissions by transporting the coal by train instead of road is so irrelevant as to be laughable.

WCM has widely publicised that the mine would bring 518 new jobs to Cumbria including 50 apprenticeships. Local people have been invited to ‘pre-register’ for employment prospects. It is completely understandable that some local residents support the proposed mine. Though indeed, many do not. Jobs are in very short supply in West Cumbria.

Radioactive waste

There is in Whitehaven a statue of coal miners. The inscription at the miners’ feet says “End of an Era”. In 2018 with an urgent need to cut carbon, with the UK as signatory to the Paris Agreement and bound by the national framework of the Climate Change Act committing  to an 80 percent reduction in emissions by 2050 – this plan must be a total non-starter.

It seems a cruel and ironic hoax on the people of West Cumbria who have been ruthlessly sold the nuclear golden goose  to hold out this carrot of a return to coal mining.

And it gets worse…the undersea mine would be in an area of heavily faulted geology within 5 miles of Sellafield. Sellafield is the most dangerous place in Europe, storing radioactive spent fuel rods in crumbling pools of water.

More of the Article can be read here

7th March 2018: New Date for Decision on First Deep Coal Mine in the UK for 30 years. Anyone Looking?

Happy New Year!

Thanks to all of you we have a fighting chance to stop the first deep coal mine in 30 years in the UK with top law firm Leigh Day lending their weight to the battle. 

The date for the planning meeting has been deferred yet again (this will be the third date!)

New Date:  7th March 2018 at Kendal County Offices, Cumbria

West Cumbria Mining accidently hit seam of Methane with “exploratory drilling” off St Bees.

The Old Baths at Whitehaven made of St Bees Sandstone

Fleswick Bay, St Bees

To recap: The plan is to return to the historic and dangerous mining of  coal (coking and non coking) deep under the Irish Sea off St Bees. This plan has bizarrely had a free ride despite the fact that for over a decade the UK has been told that new nuclear is “needed” to replace coal mining and stop runaway climate change.  The plan is just 5 miles from Sellafield and the proposed new reactors of Moorside.

Even the Coal Authority and the Environment Agency have written to Cumbria County Council saying that this new coal mine plan is too dangerous.  But these warning voices have not, so far, been given an airing in the national or even the local media.  This silence is bewildering and is a scandal in itself.

Campaigners have been aiming to highlight concerns not only about the 750 million tonnes of CO2 and the release of much more potent methane (this has already happened with the developers accidently hitting a seam of methane!) but also about the proximity to Sellafield and the danger of possible seismic activity. That old Windscale chimney is still there teetering above the radioactive ponds! There is another concern. Steve Reece, the Operations Director for developers West Cumbria Mining (who are “currently focussed on coal,” )  was previously employed by Radioactive Waste Management.

RWM is the government body tasked with ensuring the infrastructure and workforce are in place for a deep “Geological Disposal Facility” for heat generating nuclear wastes. 

There are a lot of very good reasons to oppose this plan, not least to protect our future and that of our European neighbours.  We want Cumbria County Council to say a big fat NO to the plan on the 7th March….but if they do the unthinkable and agree to this outrageous development,  top Law Firm Leigh Day have agreed to look at the possibility of a judicial review.

Planning Meeting 7th March in Kendal at County Offices

To speak at the meeting (usually in the morning) or WRITE a letter of objection please contact:

Jackie Currie

Senior Democratic Services Officer

Legal & Democratic Services

Cumbria County Council| Cumbria House

Botchergate|Carlisle|Cumbria CA1 1RD

Tel: 01228 221030 Mobile 0788 1250007


quoting:  West Cumbria Mining Ltd planning application ref 4/17/9007.

A Little Film…today in Whitehaven

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[By Email:]

4 July 2017

Dear Mrs Brophy


Development of an existing surface mine entrance for a new underground metallurgical coal mine and associated surface development including: coal storage and processing buildings; access road; security fencing; lighting; outfall to sea; surface water management system; landscaping; at the former Marchon site (High Road) Whitehaven; interconnecting underground coal conveyor to a new coal loading and railway siding to the Cumbria Coast Railway Line, with adjoining office/welfare facilities; extension of railway under pass; security fencing; lighting; landscaping; construction of a temporary development compound and associated permanent service access off Mirehouse Road, Pow Beck Valley south of Whitehaven at Pow Beck Valley and area from Marchon Site to St Bees Coast, Cumbria

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

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

The Coal Authority Response: Substantive Concern

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


Protecting the public and the environment in mining areas

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

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

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

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

    may have been subject to historic unrecorded working; and

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

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

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

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

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

The Coal Authority Recommendation to the LPA

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

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

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


Protecting the public and the environment in mining areas

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

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

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

General Information for the Applicant

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


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

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


Protecting the public and the environment in mining areas



Thanks to Scisco Media for Publishing Article on China Connection to Cumbria Coal.

There is almost universal silence on this coal mine plan from the national media apart from the occasionally parroted press release from the developers.  So BIG THANKS to Scisco Media for publishing the following!
Cumbrian Coal Mine

Follow the Cumbrian Coal Mine money….all the way to China

Back in 2015 the Champagne glasses were clinking in The Four Seasons, a Chinese restaurant in Whitehaven, Cumbria.  West Cumbria Mining was “happily toasting the recent visit to the UK of Chinese premier Xi Jinping.” As well they might. Over £14m of funding for the development has come from EMR Capital Resources Fund, an Australian-managed private equity fund. Managed by Owen Hegarty and Jason Chang, pride of place in the head office is a photo of “an Australian politician at the signing of an agreement between EMR and a bank in China”. 


Why China, through EMR Capital, would want to put money into a coal mine in the UK is unfathomable. In 2015, when West Cumbria Mining were toasting the visit of Xi Jinping, the Chinese people were protesting against a coal-fired plant at Heyuan “around 10,000 Chinese residents of Heyuan in north-eastern Guangdong took to the streets on Sunday (12 April) to protest against (the expansion of ) a coal-fired power plant in the region.” This is because the air and water in the region was already heavily polluted. The incidences of  inhuman brutality by the Chinese regime to protestors is well documented but rarely mentioned in the new era of globalisation at any cost.

As well as protesting against new coal, existing mining operations are withholding wages for their miners as there is overcapacity in the Chinese market and in a bid to solve this mines have been closed down. Thousands of coal miners have been on the streets protesting about unpaid wages

So why on earth would China want to invest in coal in the UK? There is the strategic importance of coal mining under the Irish Seat at St Bees: it is only 8km from Sellafield but that is paranoid thinking.  Then there is the prestigious St Bees school, the oldest (?) in the UK founded in 1583 which unaccountably closed in 2015 (when West Cumbria Mining were chinking their Champagne glasses). Guess what happened next? St Bees school has been “saved” by Shenzhen International, a mega Chinese organisation which seems to have fingers in all sorts of pies.

It is madness and the Chinese people are absolutely right to be protesting on the streets in their tens of thousands about new coal mines opening up in their country.

So what’s happening in Cumbria?

Well, there is a statue in Whitehaven – a poignant memorial to coal miners who lost their lives. “End of an Era”, it’s called. Only apparently it isn’t.

Cumbrian Coal Mine

Now there is the plan by West Cumbria Mining (backed by EMR Capital) to expand the dangerous Whitehaven mines with undersea coal mining. There has been lots of greenwashing heaped on the plan by West Cumbria Mining to reopen Whitehaven coal mine, the most gaseous, dangerous pit in the Kingdom.  In 1815, Sir Humphrey Davy’s invention of the miner’s safety lamp was first tested in Whitehaven Coking Coal Mine because of its reputation for “firedamp” (methane) and fatal explosions.

That was in the pre-atomic age. Now in the same area, just eight kilometres away, we have the most dangerous nuclear site in the world: Sellafield. Windscale – later renamed Sellafield is too close to the proposed site.

What people are saying

“We are particularly concerned in regard to the potential impact upon the wider marine and coastal environment of the discharge of water into the sea, which has been pumped from the flooded anhydrite mine.” National Trust

“The application site is in proximity (Solway Firth 1.5km) to a European designated site (also commonly referred to as Natura 2000 sites), and therefore has the potential to affect its interest features.” Natural England

“The impact of any level of subsidence upon the terrestrial or marine heritage assets and designated sites and landscapes could be significant and permanent, therefore having a detrimental impact ..The history of contamination of watercourses in the areas raises concerns for some local residents in relation to the impact of the development on the complex hydrology of the area.” Colourful Coast Partnership

“Our position is to object to the proposed development on the grounds of the adverse impact on groundwater, surface water and biodiversity.” Environment Agency

“It is clear that this is a very large mine, with a very long life span…of 20-50 years and a peak of 2.8 million tonnes a year. Assuming a 40-year life (following construction), and an average of 2 million tonnes a year, that is a total production of 80 million tonnes, which will emit around 175 million tonnes of carbon dioxide. The level of emissions and proposed life-time of the mine is of major concern….We would also query whether or not there has been robust enough analysis of the potential for seismicity (and subsidence) relating to well-known nuclear facilities in the wider area, including Sellafield and proposed new facility at Moorside? What potential is there for seismicity to effect these and other facilities (including the low level waste repository at Drigg) and the possible high level waste radioactive waste facility which has been proposed in West Cumbria for some time.” Friends of the Earth

“The application should be rejected because it is not in the national interest. From reviewing the documents submitted by West Cumbria Mining it is clear that the intention is to export the coal to Europe and Asia…The application to mine is too close to the Sellafield nuclear site and the proposal for another nuclear power station at Moorside. Underground mining can have a significant impact on the surrounding areas, recently a coking coal mine in Russia triggered an earthquake.” Coal Action Network

Cumbrian Coal Mine

Test Drilling by West Cumbria Mining off St Bees


Cumbrian Coal Mine

Fulmar – photo by Dorothy Bennett

Just some of the “Star Species” found in this Heritage Coast and Marine Conservation Zone are listed by the RSPB as: Fulmar, Guillemot, Herring Gull, Kittiwake, Razorbill and so many more that would be impacted on by the plan for a new coal mine with possible subsidence of the Irish Sea bed impacting on food sources such as sandeels (and not to mention disturbing decades of Sellafield discharges which have settled there).

There are so many reasons to oppose this coal mine plan. That is why we are campaigning hard to stop the plan.

Take action

Specialist law firm, Leigh Day have agreed to help which is amazing.  So we are raising funds for the cost for counsel to provide a written Opinion on Potential Grounds for Judicial Review.  This is to ensure that we will still have a chance of stopping the coal mine plan should Cumbria County Council ignore the advice of Natural England, the National Trust, Coal Action Network, the Environment Agency, Colourful Coast Partnership, Friends of the Earth and others and rubberstamp the plan.

People can get involved in many ways. You can write to the leader of Cumbria County Council and let him know you oppose the plan by West Cumbria Mining for the new Woodhouse Colliery (planning application number 4/17/9007).

Cumbria County Council is scheduled to be making a decision on the 24 of January, 2018.  The decision will be taken by the Development Control Committee.  Their contact details are here . The more letters they get the better. If you feel you can speak in opposition to the plan on the 24 of January then please do, whether as an individual or as a member of a group.  The meeting is open to public participation and you can register to speak by contacting Cumbria County Council.

We need to stop this diabolic plan for a new coal mine dangerously near Sellafield, if you can help in any way either by donation or by action then the better chance we have.

If you can help, you will be making history in the battle to stop the first deep coal mine in the UK for 30 years.  All donations no matter how small will be used directly to challenge West Cumbria Mining’s diabolic plan. Pledges can be made here



Walk Tomorrow from Whitehaven to St Bees to Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole!

Sellafield and WCM

Tomorrow 28th Oct at 10.30am Campaigners to Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole will be gathering outside the Beacon Museum, Whitehaven to walk the challenging 7 miles to St Bees along the Colourful Coast.

“from the St Bees cliffs,  the only place in England where black guillemots nest, you can see the West Cumbria Mining’s test drilling rig, turn to the left and there is Sellafield.  This is a bonkers plan, the only thing worse than opening up a new coal mine, is opening up a new coal mine in close proximity to Sellafield”  Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole

Campaigners invite others to join them tomorrow – either to stand with banners at the start of the walk to show resistance to West Cumbria Mining’s plan or if people can, please do join us for the whole walk.

Please join us on the 28th October as we Walk to Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole.  This is a challenging walk  and weather dependent.  (If the weather is really inclement we will still meet at the Beacon for our photo opportunity!)

Whitehaven coastal walk to St Bees

This is a dramatic cliff-top walk.  We will be meeting at the Beacon Museum (now run by Sellafield) on Whitehaven’s historic 17th-century harbour.  The walk takes in the old Saltom Pit, the Haig Pit and the beautiful Fleswick Bay.

The cliffs of St Bees provide the only nesting site in England for the black guillemot. Although rarely seen, puffins are also believed to nest here.  This area was once teeming with wildlife.  In 2017 that wildlife is now much rarer, with many species being on the red list..what remains is so very important to protect ( not to mention our  fresh water, hydrology would be impacted upon, and health)

Trail: Walking

Grade: Hard  (muddy in parts and some parts near the cliff edge…Carefully, Slowly does it!)

Distance: 7 miles (11km)

Time: 4 hours

We will be meeting at 10.30 am  at the Beacon – we will leave no later than 11am after photos with our banners (foldable ones to put in rucksacks with picnic!)  to ensure we have plenty of time for the walk.  

Look forward to seeing you there

Greenpeace on First Deep Coal Mine in the UK in 30 years

Greenpeace’s Chief Scientist Doug Parr has told us that:

“Greenpeace would be opposed to a new coal mine for the same reason we’re opposed to fracking. We already know that there is too much fossil fuel available than we can afford to burn – here’s the write up of a 2 year old study but still a pretty good one   Therefore we should not be seeking out more.”

This is brilliant to hear but it is not quite what we had in mind which is a direct  statement of opposition (at the least) or a full on campaign to oppose the first deep undersea coal mine in the UK for 30 years.

When, like Oliver, we asked for more from Greenpeace we were knocked back with:

“Unfortunately it is quite unlikely that we will be able to help with this as we only focus on a few issues at a time and as a non-profit organisation we don’t have the resources or capacity to take on everything we would like to.  I wish you the best of luck and I’m sorry we couldn’t have been of more help.”

Mmmmm   how much money and time does it take to write a letter of opposition and send out a press release?

Who has the wherewithal to vehemently oppose the first deep coal mine in the UK for 30 years if not Greenpeace?

Here is a musical interlude from the late great Clifford T Ward “Wish I had the wherewithal..”.