JOIN THE PROTEST – Stop the Cumbrian Coal Mine – Friday 19th July

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Dear Friends,

I will be supporting the protest to Stop the Cumbrian Coal Mine on Friday the 19th July. People are very angry that this coal mine has been approved by Cumbria County Council and  want to show continued and escalating opposition.

We also want to let the Secretary of State, James Brokenshire MP know that we are counting on him to Call In the outrageous decision by Cumbria County Council so that all the issues that were not looked at at all by the planners (who have been put on notice of possible legal action) can be brought out into the open in a public inquiry.

The walk will start at West Cumbria Coal Mine at Haig Museum at 11am (trains get into Whitehaven at 10.50 check out the Event page for lifts etc) We will be there for a while to assemble and there will be opportunities for people to sign a giant postcard before the protest walk down through Whitehaven to the Copeland Borough Council office, Market Place (Copeland Borough Council forms part of Cumbria County Council).

We will finish up around 1pm.

Please Bring Music, Bring Banners, Bring Yourselves,  and Lets Show RESISTANCE and OPPOSITION to this diabolic coal mine plan.

There is a Facebook Event page here

If you cannot get to the event and want to send a direct message to James Brokenshire MP asking him  to Call In the decision there is an easy to do action here

MANY THANKS

 

 

 

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Cumbria County Council Put On Notice

Dear Friends,

Thanks to so many of you who supported our call out for crowd funding way back in November 2017. Only With your help did we secure the advice of top Lawyers,  Leigh Day.

Leigh Day have on our instruction written an excellent letter to Cumbria County Council putting them *on notice* that their approval of the first deep coal mine in the UK in 30 years puts the Council at serious risk of legal challenge.

The downside to this is that we now have no funds left for legal challenge and we are exploring the possibility of a brave soul stepping up who is eligible for legal aid.

Below is a press release sent out to all press (the press most notably the national press have so far abandoned any attempt at journalistic honesty in reporting on this coal mine and our battle to stop it)

PRESS NOTICE

CUMBRIA COUNTY COUNCIL ‘PUT ON NOTICE’ OVER THEIR APPROVAL OF THE FIRST DEEP COAL MINE IN THE UK IN 30 YEARS

Campaigners battling to stop the first deep coal mine in the UK in 30 years have issued a warning to Cumbria County Council that their unanimous vote of approval on 19th March 2019 could be the focus of a legal challenge.

The letter issued by top environmental lawyers Leigh Day acting on behalf of Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole puts the Council on notice that there is a *serious risk of legal challenge.*

In March Cumbria County Council’s Development Control and Regulation Committee resolved that planning permission should be granted for a major new underground metallurgical coal mine on the former Marchon Chemical Works site in Whitehaven, Cumbria. Finalised planning permission is not actually expected to be granted for at least a few months as West Cumbria Mining and others need to enter into a special 106 agreement for example with surrounding landowners in advance of that final permission being granted. KCCH was also informed, on 13 June 2019, that the Secretary of State is still considering whether to call-in the application for his own determination and that he does not expect to make a decision on this before July.

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole is a Radiation Free Lakeland campaign, RaFL is a small civil society group whose primary focus is on nuclear safety, the mine would extend to 5 miles from Sellafield. KCCH was one of the many objectors to the planning application focussing its objections on environmental grounds.

The letter sent to Cumbria County Council on 20th June from Leigh Day informs the County Council of a number of flaws and omissions in their planning assessment and invites the Committee to formally re-consider its resolution to grant permission.

The issues and legal flaws are listed and described in detail in the letter. They include Cumbria County Council’s failures to consider:

GHG emissions of the mining operations
The need for, and GHG impacts of, Middlings Coal
GHG impacts of an increase in coal production.
4. Failure to consider and apply Policy ENV2 of Copeland’s Local Plan (2013 to 2028)

The letter states in conclusion:

*For the reasons given above, KCCH formally requests that the Committee reconsiders its resolution to grant planning permission for the Whitehaven Coalmine development and asks that the Committee has full regard to each of the considerations listed above when it does so. The Council’s officers are asked to facilitate that process. In the event that the Council refuses to reconsider its resolution to grant, KCCH requests that the Council provide its reasons for doing so.*

Marianne Birkby from KCCH says *we are delighted that Leigh Day have agreed to represent campaigners battling to stop this coal mine which is disastrous on so many different levels and we hope that Cumbria County Council take this opportunity rethink their decision which will impact on so many generations to come*

Anna Dews, solicitor at Leigh Day, said: *We are in the midst of a global climate crisis and our client is strongly of the view that Cumbria Country Council must now rethink its resolution to grant planning permission for the Whitehaven Coalmine. In doing so it will have to reconcile the fact that coal-fired power was the biggest single contributor to the rise of emissions in 2018 with the need to urgently tackle the climate crisis in the local area.*

Rowan Smith, solicitor at Leigh Day, added *Since the Committee resolved to grant planning permission, British Steel (one of the proposed main recipients of the coal) went into compulsory liquidation and the UK government laid legislation in parliament for a net zero Climate Change Act target. Our client KCCH strongly believes that these developments are very persuasive reasons for the Committee to rethink its decision. If it does not, then KCCH will be prepared to take legal action.

ENDS

Main Text of the Letter to Cumbria County Council- references available

Introduction

As you are aware, on 19 March 2019, Cumbria County Council’s Development Control and Regulation Committee (the Council; the Committee) resolved that planning permission should be granted for a major new underground metallurgical coal mine on the *former Marchon* site in Whitehaven, Cumbria subject to various matters including the execution of a section 106 agreement. This permission, if and when actually granted (presumably by an officer acting under delegated powers), will allow for 50 years’ of continuous coal-mining operations. At full capacity, the mine will produce 2,430,000 tonnes per annum of *coking coal* and 350,000 tonnes per annum of *middlings coal*(otherwise known as *industrial coal*).

KCCH was one of the many objectors to the planning application, focussing its objections on environmental grounds. KCCH noted the lack of any carbon footprint assessment of the emissions from the mining activities and it doubted the applicant’s (West Cumbria Mining) allegations of expected CO2 savings from import substitution of coking coal.

KCCH does not expect planning permission actually to be granted for at least a few months from the date of this letter, having regard to the need for WCM and others to enter into a significant section 106 agreement in advance of any permission being granted. KCCH was also informed, on 13 June 2019, that the Secretary of State is still considering whether to call-in the application for his own determination and that he does not expect to make a decision on this before July.

Consequently, it may be some time before a grant of planning permission could be made. KCCH nonetheless seeks – by way of this letter – to inform the County Council of a number of flaws and omissions in the planning assessment underlying the Committee’s resolution to grant. We consider that these flaws also represent a number of grounds for a legal challenge, should any subsequent decision to grant planning permission be based on the same reasoning/assessment. Through this letter we, therefore, intend to put the Council on notice that there is a serious risk of legal challenge, should any such planning permission be granted.

Furthermore, we invite the Committee to formally re-consider its resolution to grant permission (and by this letter ask officers to refer the matter back to the Committee for that purpose), taking into account the substance of each of the matters raised below. Each of the matters is plainly a material consideration which could, and we believe would, lead the Committee to reverse its previous resolution.

With that in mind we note that British Steel went into compulsory liquidation in May, putting 5,000 jobs at risk and prompting a Parliamentary inquiry which will consider the serious challenges being faced by the UK steel sector. We consider that this recent news fundamentally undermines the *need* case for *coking coal* in the UK market. As a result, it materially impacts on the Council’s assessment that 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” and its conclusion that there will be a *likely need* for metallurgical coal for the steel industry which has the potential to result in *national benefits* of *considerable weight* (officer’s report at 6.514).

For this reason alone, we request that the Committee formally reconsider its resolution to grant. There has been a clear change to the factual circumstances underlying the resolution made on 19 March and it cannot be known whether the Committee would reach the same conclusion again in light of these new facts.

Issues and legal flaws

Failure to consider GHG emissions of the mining operations

There can be no doubt that the mine will emit green-house gases (GHG) through its production processes. This was accepted by officers in the report to the Committee (OR) at 6.44. KCCH can see no evidence that the applicant provided any estimate for the GHG emissions arising from the mining operations themselves. It appears that the only assessment of site emissions is in Chapter 15 of the Environmental Impact Assessment, but this concerned local air quality impacts and dust emissions.

The development’s impact on climate change was central to the planning balance. The Committee was required to consider this under both national and local policy. In carrying out the balancing act at *stage 1* of the NPPF paragraph 211 test (and the policy test in DC13 of the Cumbria Minerals and Waste Local Plan), the emissions from mining operations were afforded *moderate weight”*(officer report at 6.503). This is the same broad category of weight (“moderate”) afforded to the potential benefits alleged to arise through GHG savings from import substitution of coking coal (at 6.502). However, whilst a crude estimate (5.3 million tonnes of CO2) was provided for the alleged GHG savings, there is no equivalent estimate for the expected emissions from the operations themselves.

It follows that the mine’s GHG emissions was a material consideration that was left out of account. Furthermore, the Committee could not rationally balance (as it needed to do) (i) the alleged GHG savings against (ii) the new GHG emissions, without comparable (and robust) information on each.

Failure to consider the need for, and GHG impacts of, Middlings Coal

The production of middlings coal will constitute up to 15% of total output. This is roughly 364,000 tonnes per annum and is a significant amount of production. It correlates, for example, to the 360,000 tonnes per annum of coking coal that will be supplied to UK steel plants.

In stark contrast to the Committee’s assessment of the coking coal to be produced from the mine, the Committee has failed to lawfully consider the need for the middlings coal – both in terms of the level of demand for it and where that demand will arise.

The OR states, at 6.70 that:

…since government policy is to move away from coal as an energy source, the likely market for this product will be industrial processes such as cement manufacture. Since the middlings coal would otherwise be disposed of with the waste rock material, I consider that if markets are available for this product for non-energy uses, this is potentially a beneficial use of a product that would otherwise be disposed of as waste. (emphasis added)

There is no further assessment of whether such markets are available, nor where they are located (whether in the UK, Europe or elsewhere in the world). There is no consideration of the likelihood of import substitution for middlings coal, or the CO2 emissions associated with transporting it to its end destination. Moreover, the Committee failed to consider whether – if permission were to be refused – any *need* for middlings coal would be likely to be met by imported industrial coal or lower carbon-emitting sources.

In short, the Committee failed to have regard to the carbon footprint of the middlings coal and its potential GHG emissions impacts. This failing fundamentally undermined any assessment of the development’s overall impact on climate change.

It was irrational for the Committee to consider only the potential carbon footprint of the coking coal and not all coal to be produced. What is more, the Council has suggested a 15% restriction on the production of middlings coal, without providing any reasons why this is a suitable limit (see the officer’s report at 6.72-6.74).

Failure to consider the GHG impacts of an increase in coal production

The UK Parliament passed a motion to declare a climate emergency on 1 May 2019. As the High Court recently stated, the increase in global temperatures is *potentially catastrophic* (R (Spurrier and others) v Secretary of State for Transport [2019] EWHC 1070 (Admin) at [559]). In this context, it was imperative on the Committee to scrutinise any potential for an increase in GHG impacts arising from increased coal production at Whitehaven. It failed to do so.

Any addition to the global stock of fossil fuels will de facto increase the likelihood of GHG emissions. If the Whitehaven Coalmine were to be permitted, a very substantial amount of coal will be added to the global stock over a very significant amount of time (50 years). This will clearly increase GHG emissions and is a highly material consideration that the Council should have had regard to.

This is notwithstanding any (non-binding) intentions of the applicant that the coal to be produced will not be used for power-generation industries (KCCH have particular concerns that there is little guarantee on how the middlings coal will eventually be used and nothing to prevent it from being used in power-generation industries).

Exports

It is also notwithstanding any (again non-binding) intentions of the applicant that some of the coal to be produced will substitute for imports that would otherwise have had to travel further (with associated transport-related CO2 emissions). In addition to there being no assessment of import-substitution in relation to middlings coal (see point 2 above), KCCH highlights that the vast majority of coking coal will be exported (only 360,000 tonnes is destined for the UK steel plants at Scunthorpe and Port Talbot).

Nothing in the proposed planning permission restricts these exports to Europe (or Western Europe) and it remains entirely possible for the applicant to export the coal further afield (particularly as the permission will remain in place for 50 years, over which time the markets for both coking coal and middlings coal will continue to change). If the coal is exported further afield, the alleged GHG savings from import substitution could easily be cancelled out, or outweighed by additional transport emissions associated with exported coal from the mine to non-European destinations.

The Committee should have considered these possibilities but failed to do so.

Worldwide prices

Finally, the increase in coal production could lead to a depreciation in the worldwide price of coal which could, in turn, lead to an increase in demand for coal. The OR noted that this concern had been raised (at 6.45) but concluded that it was an issue *far broader than can be addressed or influenced through this planning application* (at 6.50). That is not a sustainable answer.

This conflicts with the approach taken by the Secretary of State in his decision on the Highthorn open cast coal mining development at Druridge Bay in south-east Northumberland. In assessing this application, the Inspector did consider whether the additional production of coal could affect international prices, albeit he concluded that it could not (at C114 of the report) and the Secretary of State did not disagree with this position (para 34 of the letter). Notably, the Highthorn mine proposes to extract significantly less coal than at Whitehaven (the total amount of coal to be extracted will be a maximum of 3 million tonnes) and for a much shorter period (5 years).

Climate Change Act 2008

The failings noted at points 1-3 above also prevented the Committee from fully appreciating, and having regard to, the Development’s contribution to the UK’s CO2 emissions, in a context where the Government has set legally binding national targets to cut emissions by 80% of 1990 levels by 2050 through the Climate Change Act 2008 (in order to comply with the UK’s international commitments to keep the global temperature rise to 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels in 2050).

What is more, on 12 June 2019 legislation was laid before Parliament designed to implement the Government’s announcement that the UK will eradicate its net contribution to climate change by 2050. The legislation will amend the Climate Change Act 2008 to achieve this and it is expected to greatly enhance the duties imposed by the Act. We consider this recent announcement to be another material change in circumstances, since the resolution to grant, mandating reconsideration by the Committee.

Failure to consider and apply ENV2

Policy ENV2 of Copeland’s Local Plan (2013-2028) is not listed as a relevant policy for the Development in the OR. However, it states 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.

The Development clearly impacts on the St Bees Heritage Coast area. Officers advised that it would have a *moderate adverse impact* on the heritage sensitivity of St. Bees Heritage Coast (at 6.375 and 6.383).

However, there appears to have been no consideration whatsoever of development plan policy ENV2 and whether the *intrinsic qualities* of the St Bees Heritage Coast could be protected. As a result, the Committee has unlawfully failed to have regard to a relevant policy in the development plan.

Conclusion

For the reasons given above, KCCH formally requests that the Committee reconsiders its resolution to grant planning permission for the Whitehaven Coalmine development and asks that the Committee has full regard to each of the considerations listed above when it does so. The Council’s officers are asked to facilitate that process.

In the event that the Council refuses to reconsider its resolution to grant, KCCH requests that the Council provide its reasons for doing so.

Please send all future correspondence in this matter to Rowan Smith and Anna Dews, solicitors with conduct of this matter, using the details in our letterhead.
Yours faithfully,
Leigh Day

_________________________

Thank you for signing the petition Call in the Decision and Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole (its too near Sellafield), can you help spread the word by forwarding the link below to your friends?

https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/keep-cumbrian-coal-in-the-hole-its-too-near-sellafield

MANY Thanks

Marianne Birkby

You Can Send This Postcard to the Secretary of State to Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole

This template can easily be printed out on one side of ordinary A4 paper (just drag the template image onto the desktop to print it out – or highlight it to print)

Follow the instructions on the paper (can also be seen in the slideshow)

The heart can be coloured in for Xtra effect!

Remember to put a 2nd class stamp on.

Your name will then be added to those asking that the Secretary of State call in the decision made by Cumbria County Council so that it can be properly looked at in a public inquiry

 

 

 

Postcard to SOS - KCCH.jpeg
Postcard to Print out on A4 paper to fold up and send to the Secretary of State asking him to call in the Coal mine decision. 

Call in Decision Scheduled to be made in July

Our Lawyers, Leigh Day have written to the Secretary of State asking when we might expect the ‘Call in’ decision to be made.  This is the decision that a  public inquiry hinges on.  If the Secretary of State calls in the decision there will be a public inquiry in which the plan for the first coal mine in the UK in 30 years can be scrutinised fully and properly (unlike that terrible Cumbria County Council planning meeting) .

The Secretary of State is scheduled to make a decision in July (this might change see letter below).

So still time for all you good folk who do not want to see Cumbria be the first place in the UK in 30 years to open a deep coal mine in close proximity to Sellafield to get writing to the Secretary of State asking him to call in the decision.  There is lots of info on this site for your letter , which doesn’t need to be long, a sentence or two.  Also check out the petition for ideas for your letter which can be from an individual or a group.

WRITE

Letters should be addressed to James Brokenshire MP, the Secretary of State. james.brokenshire@communities.gsi.gov.uk.

Re: Application Reference No. 4/17/9007 – Former Marchon Site, Pow Beck Valley and area from Marchon Site to St Bees Coast, Whitehaven, Cumbria

PETITION

ALSO please keep sharing and encouraging folk to sign the petition to the Secretary of State

Below is the letter outlining the Secretary of States timeframe for making the decision for  whether to call in…or not.   If not ,we have to look at other legal options such as a Judicial Review.

ACTION – Please make your opposition  and your resistance to the diabolic plan to mine out coal from under the Irish Sea visible, Ask your group, your school, your community to  show resistance,  show resistance yourself ….. this plan is NOT A DONE DEAL-

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Excellent “Call In” letter to James Brokenshire from West Cumbria FoE

St Bees

St Bees fragile “Heritage Coast” the scene of the first deep coal mine in the UK in decades?

Below is the call in letter sent to the Secretary of State James Brokenshire from West Cumbria Friends of the Earth.

YOU CAN SEND IN A REQUEST TOO!   The more individuals and groups asking the Secretary of State to call in Cumbria County Council’s outrageous decision to give the green light to the first deep coal mine in the UK in decades the better.

email: james.brokenshire@communities.gsi.gov.uk

The Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP,
Secretary of State for Housing, Communities & Local Government, Ministry of State for Housing, Communities & Local Government, 2 Marsham Street,
London SW1P 4DF

April 12th 2019

Dear Sir

re Planning Application ref 4/17/9007 Cumbria County Council

I am writing on behalf of West Cumbria & North Lakes Friends of the Earth to request that you as Secretary of State call in the above application for a Coal Mine on the Former Marchon Site, Pow Beck Valley and area from Marchon to St Bees Coast, Whitehaven, Cumbria. The applicant is West Cumbria Mining Ltd.

The application was considered by Cumbria County Council Development Control & Regulation Committee on March 19th 2019, and permission was granted subject to a Section 106 agreement.

Our request is based on the following:

1. Under-sea development: The development is part of a wider proposal for extraction of coal from under the Irish Sea. This is under the auspices of the Marine Management Organisation, but no proposal has been included, and the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) did not cover this wider proposal. Yet the cited economic and social benefits relate to the proposal as a whole and have not been separated within the application. The proposal is therefore not correctly balanced.

2. Climate change: The proposal plans to extract coal over a 50 year period, which conflicts with the UK’s target of a net-zero carbon economy by 2030.

No quantification of CO2 emissions has been offered other than to estimate ‘savings’ related to transportation of coking coal that would otherwise come from the USA. However, according to submissions at the Committee from objectors, these combustion emissions hugely outweigh the ‘savings’.
No attention has been paid to methane, N02 and particulate emissions other than a verbal assurance over methane given by the developer at the Committee meeting. Despite the mine’s objective to extract coal for making steel rather than generating energy, any mining operation on this scale and for this length of time conflicts with the aims of the Paris Agreement, the Climate Change Act 2008 and the National Policy Planning Framework.

3. Proximity to radioactive waste: The location of this under-sea mine is very close to the Sellafield nuclear waste site, just short of the jurisdiction of ONR. The risks related to seismicity and subsidence are potentially very serious. Such risks apply not only to the existing highly complex radioactive waste in such close proximity, but also to radioactive material on the sea bed due to historic discharges. These have not been considered and nor have the potential effects of other sea- bed pollutants arising from historic discharges from the former Marchon factory.

4. National Policy Planning Framework: The NPPF presumes that permission will not be granted for coal extraction for any purpose unless (a) the proposal is environmentally acceptable or (b) if not, then it provides national, local or community benefits which clearly outweigh its likely impacts.

However, the application failed to provide robust evidence of ‘need’ for coking coal in the UK steel industry. Estimates of the need for coking coal in the UK did not take into account the limited life of the Port Talbot plant and the precarious situation at the only other plant in Scunthorpe. Indeed the applicant proposes that 60-80% of the output will be exported to the EU. Yet national ‘need’, along with the benefit of jobs was given ‘considerable weight’.

The prospect of 500 local jobs for 50 years was enthusiastically embraced by Council members, understandably so given levels of poverty in South Whitehaven. But this estimate refers both to the proposal on land AND to the additional offshore proposal. Yet there was no EIA for the offshore proposal, so adverse impacts from this could not be balanced against the benefit.
Thus in relation to both benefits, the proposal has not been shown to provide benefits that clearly outweigh its likely impacts.

All these points indicate that the decision was not correctly taken and I trust you will therefore see the necessity to call it in.

Yours sincerely

Dr Ruth Balogh
Co-ordinator
West Cumbria & North Lakes Friends of the Earth

The only national paper to report on Delivery of our Protest and Petition to the Secretary of State was Le Monde.

Le Monde 15th April 2019

Translated with Google..

Le Monde

“Despite growing concerns over global warming, the UK is about to open an underwater coal mine. The first in thirty years, in the north-west of the country, on the coast of the depopulated county of Cumbria. A group of local opponents sent the government Wednesday, April 10 a petition signed by 1,500 people.  This called for a stay of Cumbria County Council’s decision and the opening of a public inquiry, in which “all aspects of the mine would be examined in detail”.
On March 19th, all-party members of the county council voted unanimously in favor of this offshore submarine mine project led by West Cumbria Mining Limited. In the Irish Sea, a few hundred meters from the coast of Whitehaven (25 000 inhabitants), the exploitation of the ore nested at a depth of 350 meters should begin within two years, according to the company. The mining company is still required to obtain an operating license from the Marine Management Organization (an independent body responsible for the management of marine protected areas) to be able to dig under the sea.
Access will be from the mainland, then through underground galleries. “For the miners who work there, it does not change a conventional underground mine,” says the director of risks in the Bureau of Geological and Mining Research (BRGM), Karim Ben Slimane.

“Desperately need these jobs”
Objective of the “Woodhouse Colliery”, name of the future mine: the extraction of 3.1 million tons of annual coking coal for the European steel industry, for fifty years. And above all, 500 jobs, of which the company guarantees “80% to the inhabitants of the zone”. “The mine will boost the local economy and create well-paying jobs,” said Mike Starkie, Mayor of Copeland District, whose capital is Whitehaven. It is fantastic to see the coal industry return to western Cumbria. ”
The coal has long been part of the industrial landscape of this region, “one of the most disadvantaged in the north of England,” he says. In 1986, the closure of a first underwater mine left 3 500 people on the road. Then in Whitehaven, in the popular neighborhood adjoining the land where the mine offices are already located, the prospect of a salary goes well before the rest. …”

The rest of the article is behind a paywall

CALL IN THE CRAZY CUMBRIAN COAL MINE DECISION! DEMO and PETITION HAND OVER – 10th APRIL in LONDON

Dear Friends,

*Thank you*  to everyone who wrote to Cumbria County Council about their shocking decision to approve deep mining under the Irish Sea.

The next step is to ask the Secretary of State to call in the decision. 

Tim Farron MP has done thisand I have also written on behalf of Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole to the Secretary of State to ask that the decision by Cumbria County Council approving the Coal Mine is Called In.

The more people and groupsthat write and request that the Secretary of State calls in the decision made by Cumbria County Council on 19th March, the better.

In fact, a show of force may demonstrate the strength of feeling against the mine.  The letter should be addressed to James Brokenshire MP, the Secretary of State. james.brokenshire@communities.gsi.gov.uk.

Re: Application Reference No. 4/17/9007 – Former Marchon Site, Pow Beck Valley and area from Marchon Site to St Bees Coast, Whitehaven, Cumbria

Our full letter is below – but you don’t need to write that much – the main point to make is that West Cumbria Mining has not given figures on CO2 Emissions with no independent assessments and there has been no detailed scrutiny or debate on the close proximity of deep mining to Sellafield’s high level radioactive wastes

ALSO

The petition has been updated to request that James Brockenshire MP, Secretary of State Calls In the Decision.

DEMO AND PETITION HAND OVER ON WEDNESDAY 10th APRIL 2-4 pm

OUTSIDE the MINISTRY OF HOUSING, COMMUNITIES & LOCAL GOVERNMENT

2 Marsham Street
London
SW1P 4DF
United Kingdom

https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/keep-cumbrian-coal-in-the-hole-its-too-near-sellafield

 

LETTER TO THE SECRETARY OF STATE From KEEP CUMBRIAN COAL IN THE HOLE

james.brokenshire@communities.gsi.gov.uk

The Rt Hon James Brockenshire MP,
Secretary of State for Housing, Communities & Local Government, Ministry of State for Housing, Communities & Local Government, 2 Marsham Street,
London SW1P 4DF.

3rd April 2019

Dear Secretary of State,

Re: Application Reference No. 4/17/9007 – Former Marchon Site, Pow Beck Valley and area from Marchon Site to St Bees Coast, Whitehaven, Cumbria

I write on behalf of Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole, a campaign by Radiation Free Lakeland to ask that the Secretary of State calls in the above decision.

We are a civil society group that aims to remove the risk of environmental damage both nationally and internationally that may arise from the presence of an extensive nuclear industry close to the Lake District National Park, a World Heritage Site.

On 19th March Cumbria County Council (CCC) granted conditional planning permission for a resumption of the long abandoned onshore coal mining at St Bees to West Cumbria Mining Limited (WCM).

The applicant has confirmed that their onshore proposal is commercially dependent upon the extraction of coal from under the adjacent coastal waters of the Irish Sea for which they would need agreement from the Marine Management Organisation.

Our concerns primarily relate to potential cross boundary radiation impacts resulting from damage to Sellafield as a result of aggressive deep mining activity in methane rich coal beds and freshwater extraction to wash the coal (from a geological fault). We are, however, also concerned about wider environmental impacts arising from the mine, including climate change.

We support the call in by Tim Farron MP, and we refer you to the climate scientists and experts (Dr Laurie Michaelis, Dr Henry Adams and others) who have outlined the cross boundary climate impacts that would result from this mine (impacts as outlined by the Climate Change Act 2008).

We request the Secretary of State calls this application in for his own determination on the basis that the proposal fulfils the following (Caborn) criteria for call-in:

1. The proposal conflicts with national policies on important matters

We refer to paragraphs 205, 211, 7 and of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) 2019.

NPPF Paragraph 205 states: When determining planning applications, great weight should be given to the benefits of mineral extraction, including to the economy” except in relation to the extraction of coal, in which case reference is made to paragraph 211.

Paragraph 211 states: Planning permission should not be granted for the extraction of coal unless:

a) the proposal is environmentally acceptable, or can be made so by planning conditions or obligations; or

b) if it is not environmentally acceptable, then it provides national, local or community benefits which clearly outweigh its likely impacts (taking all relevant matters into account, including any residual environmental impacts).

It is our view that the proposal cannot be made acceptable by planning conditions or obligations and that any national, local or community benefits do not outweigh the likely impacts.

We also refer the Secretary of State to key paragraphs of the NPPF concerning sustainable development (as set out in paragraphs 7-14).

We also refer to a paper published by the Interdepartmental Liaison Group on Risk Assessment (ILGRA), in 2002 entitled The Precautionary Principle: Policy and Application. This paper highlighted a number of important points including noting that the precautionary approach should be invoked when: there is good reason to believe that harmful effects may occur to human, animal or plant health, or to the environment; and the level of scientific uncertainty about the consequences or likelihood of the risk is such that best available scientific advice cannot assess the risk with sufficient confidence to inform decision-making.

The proposal potentially conflicts with paras of the NPPF concerned with *Meeting the challenge of climate change, flooding and coastal change* (see pages 44-45).

2. The proposal could have significant effects beyond their immediate locality; give rise to substantial cross-boundary or national controversy. We draw your attention to the close 8km proximity of this coal mine to Sellafield’s uniquely dangerous storage of high level wastes and highly active liquors (see Consequences in Norway of a hypothetical accident at Sellafield: Potential release – transport and fallout Strålevern Rapport 2009:7. Østerås: Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority)

Cross boundary impacts: For example, there is no guarantee that subsidence will not occur following mining and backfill of the voids with a cement mix. If subsidence does occur, there is a significant risk that highly carcinogenic and dangerous radioactive and chemical sediment and silt will be re-suspended from the Irish Sea bed and mobilised with the tides not only to Cumbrian beaches but also to European beaches (and beyond). Similarly, mining and freshwater abstraction from faults is known to increase seismic activity. It is significant that the only area of the UK ever to experience a liquefaction event from a minor seismic event is a small village not far from Sellafield in the 1800s. A recent paper published by the Yorkshire Geological Society (The susceptibility of glacigenic deposits to liquefaction under seismic loading conditions: a case study relating to nuclear site characterization in West Cumbria by Martin Cross, Anass Attya and David J. A. Evans Proceedings of the Yorkshire Geological Society,18 September 2018) found that Sellafield and its surrounds are at “high risk” of liquefaction.

If a liquefaction event happened at Sellafield as a result of mining the consequences would be catastrophic, not just for Cumbria but for the rest of Europe. Given the catastrophic radiological impacts that a seismic event at Sellafield induced by nearby coal mining could have on other EU countries this proposal is potentially subject to Article 37 of the Euratom Treaty. Article 37 requires Member States to provide the Commission with general data so that they may give an opinion on whether the proposal is likely to have an impact on other Member States. Post Brexit we hope that this protection afforded to other European Countries is honoured.

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole has a following of approximately 1500 supporters including academics and scientists. We have been campaigning to raise awareness about this development since 2015. In 2016 Radiation Free Lakeland received a personal letter of thanks for our ongoing civil society work in nuclear safety from Austria’s Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management who are equally concerned at the danger Sellafield poses to Europe even without deep coal mining under the Irish Sea.

Finally, we would also highlight that there remains a significant question about the extent of the climate change impacts arising from this scheme (even if coal used in steel production, there will be CO2emitted). In this respect, we note the purpose of the power under s.77 Town and Country Planning Act 1990 is to give the Secretary of State the power to call in planning applications where he considers that this is *necessary or desirable in the national interest* (R. (on the application of Adlard) v Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions[2002] 1 WLR 2515). We would submit this is clearly one such case.

In light of the above, we urge the Secretary of State to call this application in for his own determination at the earliest opportunity.

Yours sincerely,
Marianne Birkby
On behalf of Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole A Radiation Free Lakeland campaign

https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/keep-cumbrian-coal-in-the-hole-its-too-near- sellafield