New Coal Mine Would be a Myriad of Threats – Letter in the Westmorland Gazette

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Oppose the coal mine plan – letter in the Westmorland Gazette

The new coal mine proposed under the Irish Sea is ‘not a threat’? (Letters July 5) True, it is not just one threat! Like a many headed hydra it promises a myriad of threats to wildlife, health, climate and the safe stewardship of Sellafield.

Despite this myriad of threats. Kent Brooks’ letter of support for the mine is evidence that the PR for this plan has been astonishingly successful.

So what is the threat to wildlife?  RSPB and others have pointed out that the development has the potential to have an adverse effect upon the St Bees Head Site of Special Scientific Interest. through disturbance to breeding birds during excavations and coal processing.

The impacts from this vast mine on Cumbria’s troubled water resources and hydrology are also of great concern to human welfare, as well as that of wildlife.

What about the climate impacts that Kent Brooks believes are non existent?  At a production rate of 2.8Mt/year the produced coal would generate 1.24Mt/year CO2.

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.

Kent Brooks says he does not understand why nuclear safety campaigners are so concerned about this plan.

This is why we are concerned –

at just 8km away from Sellafield (even nearer to Moorside) according to West Cumbria Mining, this development is ridiculously near to more than 140 tons of plutonium.

Increased tremors and quakes resulting from mining are well documented. Also well documented is the fact that there are large holding tanks at Sellafield containing thousands of litres of extremely radiotoxic fission products.

As well as nuclear wastes on teh Sellafield site there are radioactive wastes on the Irish Sea bed from ongoing and historic discharges.

Don’t take my word for it. All these threats can be read about on the submissions to Cumbria County Council on their website under planning application reference 4/17/9007.

Please do write to CCC before mid August and make your voice heard in opposition to this new coal mine plan which threatens Cumbria in a myriad of ways.

Marianne Birkby

On behalf of Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole

NOTE: The planning meeting has been deferred again until the Autumn – so more time to get your objections in!  You can write to the Senior Democratic Services Officer quoting planning application reference 4/17/9007 West Cumbria Mining

Email       Jackie.Currie@cumbria.gov.uk

 

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STOP PRESS – COAL MINE PLANNING DECISION DELAYED AGAIN! TILL AUTUMN

Sellafield from St Bees

St Bees looking across to Sellafield

We have just heard that the planning meeting for the first deep coal mine in the UK  that was due to be heard on August 23rd in Kendal has been delayed yet again.

We have lost count of the deferments – it must be some kind of record.  We have to ask why hasn’t this dangerous mad bad plan been knocked on the head already?  Is it to embed West Cumbria Mining into Cumbrian society with its largesse and promises of jobs?   It it to soften West Cumbria up for deep mining of an altogether different plan, concerning nuclear wastes?  That may be way off course but it is a thought that has crossed many a Cumbrian mind.

So the new date – as far as we know is the autumn.

We shall continue to fight this plan and welcome all hands to the deck until the plan for the first deep coal mine in the UK in 30 years is stopped once and for all.

 

 

#DivestParliament Congratulations, Thank You and a Request to the Irish Parliament

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photo credit Climate Action

Fantastic news! Ireland is on course to become the first country in the world to divest from fossil fuel assets. The Fossil Fuel Divestment Bill brought by Irish Parliamentarian Thomas Pringle is set to become law by the end of the year.

I have sent a letter to the Irish Government congratulating them on backing the Bill and asking them to keep the Irish Sea safe from the plan for a coal mine deep underneath the fragile and complex Irish Sea bed.

Please do send them your own letter of congratulations and request that the Irish Parliament do all they can to stop this crazy plan for a coal mine under the Irish Sea.

email the Irish Parliament at     info@oireachtas.ie

Dear Houses of the Oireachtas

Planning Application 4/17/9007 –

Woodhouse Mine

First Deep Coal Mine in 30 Years and it is under the Irish Sea!

Thank you so much for backing the Fossil Fuel Divestment Bill brought by Irish Parliamentarian Thomas Pringle. For Ireland to be the world’s first country ever to divest public money from fossil fuel is truly a great achievement and something wonderful to celebrate.

It is therefore a terrible irony that in the same summer that Ireland pledges to divest from Fossil Fuel , the Irish Sea is being primed to become host to the first new deep coal mine (Woodhouse Mine) in the UK for 30 years. The plan is due to be heard by Cumbria County Council on August 23rd 2018.

There are many reasons to oppose this deep coking coal mine under the Irish Sea off St Bees on the Cumbrian Coast.

Climate

The developers, West Cumbria Mining, 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 steel making coal from the USA.  However the fact that the plan is to export most of the coal produced makes a nonsense of this claim. 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 is staggering. At a production rate of 2.8Mt/year the produced coal would generate 1.24Mt CO2. This is an Alice in Wonderland plan in many ways as there is rapid innovation in steel making processes to eliminate the fossil fuel component of steel, making coking coal redundant.

 Proximity to Sellafield

At just 8km away from Sellafield (even nearer to the proposed new nuclear reactors at ‘Moorside’) 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.”

Sea Bed Subsidence and Resuspension of Radioactive Wastes from the Irish Sea Bed

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.

Local campaigners Radiation Free Lakeland have recently sampled the beaches near Sellafield (Sellafield stops monitoring and retrieval of radioactive particles over the summer in order not to frighten beach users).  A full one third of all random samples were found to contain cesium and americium in levels above that safe for human health. Any increase in radioactive particles being resuspended and brought back on the waves of the Irish Sea to Cumbrian and Irish shorelines is to be avoided.

I am writing to thank you on behalf of Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole for divesting from fossil fuels.

And…

It is a Big ask but I would like to ask that you protect the Irish Sea (and so much more) by opposing the Irish Sea deep coal mine on behalf of Ireland.

With many thanks

Marianne Birkby

On behalf of Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole

 https://keepcumbriancoalinthehole.wordpress.com/

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

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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

 

BRIEFING NOTE FROM RADIATION FREE LAKELAND

WEST CUMBRIA MINING PROPOSAL Ref No: 4/17/9007

 Part 1

  • Wildlife
  • Health
  • Seismic Activity and Sellafield

Part 2

  • Climate
  • Planning
  • Employment

 Part 1

 WILDLIFE

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

  • HEALTH

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. https://www.food.gov.uk/sites/default/files/report2016_0.pdf

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

  • SEISMIC ACTIVITY AND 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.   http://theseacannotbedepleted.net/

PART 2

CLIMATE and PLANNING

 

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.

 

EMPLOYMENT

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

https://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/01/070103-mine-quake_2.html

 

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

https://keepcumbriancoalinthehole.wordpress.com/2018/02/26/fisheries-and-conservation-authority-concerns-irish-sea-subsidence-and-resuspension-of-radionuclides/

 

Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the Steel Industry

https://link.springer.com/article/10.3103/S0967091215090107

 

World Steel Figures in 2017

https://www.worldsteel.org/media-centre/press-releases/2017/world-steel-in-figures-2017.html

 

Sweden aims for first place in carbon free steel race

https://www.thefifthestate.com.au/innovation/building-construction/sweden-aims-for-first-place-in-carbon-free-steel-race

 

Beginners Guide to Fossil Fuel Divestment

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jun/23/a-beginners-guide-to-fossil-fuel-divestment

 

Progressive Economics for people and place

https://cles.org.uk

 

The Preston Model

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jan/31/preston-hit-rock-bottom-took-back-control

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

Email jackie.currie@cumbria.gov.uk

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