Our Intrepid Jogger Goes 15K to Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole

Words and Images by The Jogger……

“I plan a marathon today. Just to dispel any suggestion that I am a fine weather protest jogger, today the rain is falling sideways. My Jog begins at the top of Linethwaite and the cycle track close to the main A595. I head towards Whitehaven on the track that runs across the head of Pow Beck Valley. 

This green valley would be the location of the Train Loading Facility. The view from the cycle track is shrouded in mist today. St Bees Priory is just visible on the misty horizon a few kilometres away. The Coal Yard would go on the left under Stanley Hill and be connected to the coal mine via a 3KM tunnel. Wainwright’s Coast to Coast would pass beneath the railway and sidings. What would the coast2coaster think when they descend from Bell House Farm to be greeted with railway sidings full of coal wagons?
I continue, downhill slightly, to Whitehaven. I have a good tailwind, my pace is that of Michael Johnson. I breeze into Mirehouse and on to Corkickle. My first restbite is close, I want to add a little bit of adornment to one of Whitehaven’s permanently fixed residents near Morrisons. He should have that mask covering his nose though.

I cut through the Georgian streets to the Market Place and add a little more adornment to one of the sailors standing there too. 


I want to get in further kilometres on this run so it’s off round the harbour, via the mermaid. She needs no adornment. Harbour was looking nice again even in the rain, came across a very pretty boat. 

Around the harbour for Wellington Pit and to look ar the End of an Era coal mine monument. When the artist created the work it was indeed the end of coal mining in Whitehaven. I don’t think it is a coincidence that the artist depicts one of the miners in a respirator, the coal mines of Whitehaven: and particularly Haig Pit, were prevalent to firedamp. 

I had visited the Haig Pit Museum on a few occasions and came away amazed at the courage of coal miners working in such dangerous conditions, descending that mine shaft and trundling in the coal wagon 4 miles to the coal face. If I was given the choice I would not be sending miners underground and risking their lives for coal.  Earlier this year 5 miners suffered burns to their airways and upper body in a gas explosion at a metallurgic coal mine in Queensland. Modern technology failed those miners that day.
My run has been mostly downhill up to this point but that is about to change. I run up the steps and ramp leading to the Candlestick Chimney; still venting gases from an old coal mine, and follow the railway brake to the top of the hill and Kells. past West Cumbria Mine HQ. 

The stiff south westerly that aided my arrival into Whitehaven is now blowing straight at me and my run is a snails pace as I battle up to Seacliffe and the coal mine site near Sandwith. 
I reach the top, no view to enjoy the lakeland fells just a blanket of grey. I am going to follow in the footsteps of Wainwright’s Coast 2 Coast at Sandwith to take me back to Pow Beck and Linethwaite. I wonder how much money his coast to coast has generated for our Whitehaven economy? A tourist asset that should be protected but now has the possibility of an ugly coal yard cutting across its path. 

The footsteps of Wainwright today are wet and muddy as I plod to Demesne Farm. I cross the St Bees Road heading for Bell House Farm and begin to drop down into Pow Beck.

The underground coal conveyor would brush past that bungalow in the background and into the new coal loading building at the bottom of the hill. Its a straight line from the planned coal mine through an ancient wood and down to this green space near Linethwaite. My descent is tricky, the grass slippy but I manage to stay upright. 


I stand to visualise what this place would be like if the mine gets the go ahead. They are to extend the cattle arch for the Coast to Coast path. The railway line is two metres above me. 

Where I am stood would need 1000s of tonnes of rubble and hardcore stretching for 1km down the valley to enlarge the embankment wide enough for two railway sidings. Most of the field pictured above would disappear under the hardcore base they intend to dump here. The loading facility would be housed in a timber clad structure to ‘fit in’ with the area, but I can’t see how a large building and dozens of coal wagons in sidings fits into this pretty place.

The run is nearly done, as I continue under the bridge in Wainwrights footsteps across the fields back to Linethwaite. The going is slow, the field swamped; as it often does in wet weather. I splish splosh to a track that leads back to my starting point, a welcomed piece of gravel and tarmac and just one small hill to ascend and I have completed my circuit. 15KM I am well chuffed with myself, I don’t think I have run as far in my life. Carry on like that and I shall be as strong as those miners back in their day. Mining is our heritage not the future.

Keep the coal in the hole”

Words and Pictures by The Jogger

The Moment

This is the moment that Cumbria County Council approve the Coal Mine (again) – not unanimous this time – the Chair and the Vice Chair vote against along with another councillor.

The phrase “banality of evil” comes to mind.

There were powerful testimonies from members of the public and experts. I was barred from speaking and from delivering the petition (the petition was included in the speeches by Sam Moisha who spoke powerfully on nuclear risks). Due to a tech hitch I was an hour late getting my submission in (having registered to speak months ago) – the council used their ‘discretion’ to disallow my voice on behalf of Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole (despite others handing in submissions even later and being allowed to speak).

There were confident testimonies from those in favour including the Mayor of Copeland Mike Starkie who said he was proud to support the development and he reiterated the strong support from Conservative MPs and Sellafield. The CEO of the development Mark Kirkbride spoke angrily (he protests too much?) saying that the development has NO LINK TO NUCLEAR WASTE ( he did not explain his role at Radioactive Waste Management) but provided no assurances about the acknowledged subsidence issues of the Cumbrian Mud Patch or proximity to Sellafield and seismicity. There were powerful speeches from members of the public and experts opposing the development. The presentations included climate damage, new steel making processes, proximity to Sellafield and subsidence of the radioactive Cumbrian Mud Patch . Given the excellent presentations you would have expected a vigorous debate from councillors. Not so. The first councillor to speak was Brenda Grey (LibDem) who said scientists were not to be trusted and that if we were ever on a new war footing then steel would be needed. Councillor Grey followed this up by proposing the motion to approve the decision subject to the 101 conditions. There was no reminder from the Chair or Officers that the Secretary of State has applied a holding condition on the development. The holding condition tells the Council that they could refuse the decision but not approve it – only that they could be “minded to approve” subject to the Secretary of States decision. So they could refuse but not approve!

The second speaker was Councillor Anthony Markley who spoke of the need for jobs, industrial development and his pride at being part of this new development’s future. He then seconded the motion to approve the first deep coal mine in 30 years. Councillor Markley had said pretty much the same about the plan for the high level wastes geological nuclear dump under Silloth – and then changed his mind saying he was listening to his constituents regarding health and safety. Concern for the health and safety of his constituents and their future was not in evidence in this instance.

The three councillors who voted against the plan but did not speak powerfully against it – insisting that the issue was “finely balanced” and “difficult” were the Chair Geoff Cook, the Vice Chair Alan McGuckin and Councillor Hilary Carrick. There were two abstentions and one who could not vote (tech problems) which left 12 councillors voting for the plan.

The full reports from the council can be viewed here https://councilportal.cumbria.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=124&MId=10597&Ver=4

The full roll call of shame is below

Geoffrey David (Geoff) CookChairExpected
Alan McGuckinVice-ChairExpected
Roger Kenneth BinghamCommittee MemberExpected
Joseph (Alan) BownessCommittee MemberExpected
Hilary CarrickCommittee MemberExpected
Frank CassidyCommittee MemberExpected
Nicholas Charles (Nick) CottonCommittee MemberExpected
Brenda GrayCommittee MemberExpected
Des EnglishCommittee MemberExpected
Kevin Robert HamiltonCommittee MemberExpected
Keith Haigh HitchenCommittee MemberExpected
Joseph Simon (Joe) HollidayCommittee MemberExpected
Anthony James (Tony) MarkleyCommittee MemberExpected
William (Bill) McEwanCommittee MemberExpected
Frank Irving MorganCommittee MemberExpected
Paul TurnerCommittee MemberExpected
Doug WilsonCommittee MemberExpected
Melvyn Henry (Mel) WorthCommittee MemberExpected
Svetlana BainbridgeOfficerExpected
Mark BrennandOfficerExpected
Philippa ChristieOfficerExpected
Richard CryerOfficerExpected
Jackie CurrieOfficerExpected
Geoff FewkesCouncil StaffExpected
Paul HagginOfficerExpected
David HughesOfficerExpected
Louise MavingOfficerExpected
Edward PageOfficerExpected
Jayne PetersenOfficerExpected
Andy SimsOfficerExpected
Jason WeatherillOfficerExpected
Alison NuttallOfficerExpected
Nicola HarrisonSecretaryExpected

The Press has focussed on climate campaigners and the climate damage rather than the proximity to Sellafield and the resuspension of the Cumbrian Mud Patch. KCCH have sent countless press releases out about the nuclear issues but as a BBC reporter said to me “we are’nt interested in the nuclear side”.

I did manage to include proximity to Sellafield in this interview with RT (how ironic as New Century Media the PR company behind West Cumbria Mining also is the PR company for Rosatom – the Russian state nuclear department)

Interview with Marianne Birkby – Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole
Interview with Councillor Tony Markley who voted for the first deep coal mine in 30 years

A Morning Jog

We have permission to publish the following photo journal of a morning jog. The route is through the Whitehaven area past the proposed coal mine.

“It was a lovely morning for my run. The sun rises on another day. Two thirds of Copeland Borough are in the national park, a World Heritage Site. How disappointing that the remaining third has a coal mine; and a nuclear storage facility.

Our local MP Trudy Harrisons tells us that the mining company has a sound business plan. I think the Trojan Horse scenario is a strong possibility. A GDF is a little way off, plenty of time for a private company to invest in a coal mine and create a big cavern inshore. Coal mining and nuclear disposal advisory group in cahoots it seems.

My run takes me past the new housing estates opposite the mine site. I work with  a couple of people here, they are not too bothered about the mine, both said that we need jobs. This is quite true, we need jobs but we are not unique, lots of areas are crying out for jobs. There are more people employed than unemployed in Whitehaven. If they build this mine I fear those new build houses won’t be such an investment, who wants to live next to a coal mine.


I cut across the old Marchon Chemical works to pick up the coastal path to take me to Whitehaven Harbour. Haig Pit is the HQ for West Cumbria Mining. Thay have taken over the mining museum, fascinating I have visited on three occasions before it closed a few years ago. You came away in awe of those miners. Did you know the pithead lift operator had to count the revolution on a clockwork wheel to control the descent of the lift cage. Mess it up and the cage and miners would be crushed as it hit the bottom. Every so often they had to recalibrate the wheel to compensate for the stretch in the steel cable. If it opens again pay a visit. Coal mining is our heritage not the future.

Down hill now towards our harbour and the candlestick vent chimney. The new coal mine vent, to be situated near Sandwith won’t be as elaborate. Perhaps just like the candlestick they will let it vent mine gases (methane).

The only thing I agree with in WCM’s new proposal is their acknowledgement that methane is the most potent greenhouse gas. They are quite happy to vent this into the atmosphere though and at a later date put some methane capture in place to use as an energy source; more pollution but still only less than 1% of the UK (England, Scotland, Wales & Northern Ireland; population 67,886,000) carbon budget.

Round the harbour, the water is looking really clean now that they have introduced a floating rubbish collector. Past the mermaid, she is my favourite and I stop a moment to watch a couple of coast to coast cyclists dip their bike wheels. Their route will take them across the head of the Pow Beck Valley, location of the train loading facility. It is peaceful and green now, an uninterrupted view down the valley with St,Bees Priory standing proud, It’s a lovely view from the cycle track.

The coast to coast proper drops into Pow Beck They are to build an underpass for walkers. I can’t see the appeal of seeing dozens of coal wagons in this green valley, Not all the coal mine is to be built on an old industrial site. So this is how Cumbria protects its tourist assets, lets dig coal, Shameful.


The run takes a turn for the worse, back to my starting point at Seacliffe. It’s all uphill now, those steps are so steep they could be ladders. “

STOP THE COAL MINE IN CUMBRIA -PETITION

PLEASE SIGN THE PETITION –  LETS SEND CUMBRIA COUNTY COUNCIL THE MESSAGE 

STOP THE COAL MINE

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Nearly 4000 people, including Chris Packham have signed the petition to Stop the Coal Mine in Cumbria – Please keep sharing and signing.  As well as signing the petition – People can STILL WRITE individual letters to Cumbria County Councillors who will be making the decision on this to let them know STOP THE COAL MINE!

The main points to make are that this mine would fly in the face of the Council’s own climate commitments and its own stated commitments to protect the health, safety (this is 8km from Sellafield) and well being of all Cumbrians. Send an email to development.control@cumbria.gov.uk –or if you have time to all the Development Control and Regulation Committee members  quoting the application reference number 4/17/9007 and including your name and address.

 

Briefing Paper : RADIOLOGICAL IMPLICATIONS of POTENTIAL SEABED SUBSIDENCE SEISMICITY & “FAULT RE-ACTIVATION” beneath The CUMBRIAN MUD PATCH: INDUCED BY “MASS REMOVAL”, RAPID EXTRACTION & VOID SPACE CREATION

Solway Sunset

A Briefing Paper on radiological implications of West Cumbria Mining’s plan has been sent to councillors ahead of their coming decision on whether to allow the plan for the first deep coal mine in 30 years to continue.

The author of the paper, Tim Deere-Jones is an Independent & non-aligned Marine Pollution Researcher & Consultant whose clients include: WWF, The UK Wildlife Trusts, European Climate Foundation, Greenpeace International, European Coastal Local Authorities and many others.

This comprehensive report concludes that the plan by West Cumbria Mining should be abandoned.  The introduction and Major Conclusions are reproduced below…..

Introduction:                                                                                                                                                        This Briefing offers a review of the possible seabed morphological changes and marine pollution implications of the sub-sea coal mining venture proposed by West Cumbria Mining (WCM) at their Woodhouse Colliery site near St Bees Head.

WCM have designated and identified a sub-sea mining zone of the Irish Sea lying to the west of St Bees Head and extending at least 8kms offshore and southwards to within about 8km of the Sellafield site.

The WCM extraction proposals, using continuous mining methods, predict the extraction of approximately 3 million tonnes of coal per year over a 50 year period. This extraction rate will eventually generate a huge subterranean void space of approximately 136 million cubic metres (a volume greater than that of Wastwater Lake).

This briefing considers the impact of the creation of such a sub-sea void space on the possibility of sea bed subsidence in the area of the WCM designated sub-sea mining zone, and the subsequent potential for marine radiological pollution as a result of the subsidence induced re-suspension of the heavily radioactively contaminated sea bed sediments of the Cumbrian Mud Patch and surrounding sea bed areas.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….  

Major Conclusions

It is noted that there is a lack of data about the status of the existing historical galleries and workings of the West Cumbrian Coalfield. It is noted that there is a lack of accurate data about the history and status of any subsidence seismicity in the coalfield.  It is noted that the BGS have concluded that the coalfield is heavily faulted and has a long history of subsidence and that it appears that there are no plans to monitor for any subsidence prior to, during the operational phase or in the post operational phase of the Woodhouse Colliery.  It is noted that sub-sea monitoring equipment is available and could be deployed in the region in order to monitor for any subsidence effects arising as a result of the proposed Woodhouse Colliery “mass removal” extraction.

It is concluded that there is a real potential for subsidence to occur as a result of the “mass removal” and the creation of extensive sub-sea void spaces, and it is noted that such subsidence could generate earthquake and liquefaction effects which may extend onshore as far as the Sellafield/Moorside sites.

It is concluded that any seabed subsidence in the WCM designated sub-sea mining zone would generate re-suspension of Cumbrian Mud Patch heavily radioactive seabed sediments. It is noted that such an event would generate elevated doses of man-made radioactivity to coastal zone populations and sea users along both the Cumbrian coast and at “downstream” regions further afield.

Given the potential for such a radiological effect and the delivery of increased doses of radioactivity to relevant coastal zone communities, some of which have already been identified by the authorities as Coastal Critical Groups, the Woodhouse Colliery proposal (especially in the absence of any precautionary mandatory subsidence monitoring) is strongly contra-indicated and should be abandoned

The FULL REPORT can be READ HERE

Spring Watch at St Bees & July Date for Coal Mine Challenge

 

 

Dear Friends,

As you know we had planned a Spring Watch Wildlife Walk and Draw along the cliff top walk from Whitehaven to St Bees.  As we cannot do that here is a virtual walk with sketches of some of the birds that it is possible to see. Some are very vulnerable indeed such as the Black Guillemot,  just one of the reasons why we want to stop this coal mine.

The date of the week beginning the 20th July has now been set for the Legal Challenge which you have so generously donated funds towards.  A Press Release has been sent out to media and can be read below.  With many thanks for your continued support in the battle to stop this coal mine.  We will let you know more details about the 20th July date as soon as we know more.

With All Very Best Wishes

Marianne

on behalf of Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole.

****************************************************

PRESS NOTICE.                                                                     8th April 2020

POSSIBLE JULY DATE FOR CUMBRIAN COAL MINE LEGAL CHALLENGE

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole are challenging the decision by Cumbria County Council to allow the first phase of a major new coking coal mine deep under the Irish Sea.  The date for the Judicial Review is planned for the week commencing the 20th July (dependent on the situation with Covid19 restrictions) and will be heard at the High Court in Manchester.

The case is being brought on behalf of KCCH by Mrs Marianne Bennett (which is the legal name of the Cumbrian based artist Marianne Birkby). KCCH was founded by the campaign group Radiation Free Lakeland which was set up in 2008 to fight the plan for the geological disposal of nuclear wastes under Cumbria.  A crowdfunder set up by Mrs Bennett following Cumbria County Council’s decision in March 2019 to grant the coal mine planning permission has generated £10,435 to cover court costs and legal expenses.  KCCH have engaged the services of top environmental lawyers at Leigh Day, Matrix Chambers and Francis Taylor Buildings.

On 20 June 2019, Leigh Day wrote to Cumbria County Council addressing a number of legal issues. Despite being alerted to those concerns, Cumbria County Council ratified its decision on 31 October 2019.

JUDICIAL REVIEW

Consequently, KCCH launched its Judicial Review on 12 December 2019, arguing that Cumbria County Council had failed to properly assess the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of the mining operations, by wrongly claiming that the development would be “carbon neutral” without any evidence whatsoever to support such a claim. KCCH also submitted that Cumbria County Council had a legal requirement to consider whether the extraction and use of the coal would be in line with the Government’s target of Net Zero CO2 emissions by 2050, given the Whitehaven development will last for at least the next 50 years.

The developers West Cumbria Mining as ‘interested party,’ have throughout, strongly resisted the legal challenge. Arguing that KKCH’s case against Cumbria County Council is “without merit” in respect of both carbon emissions and the need for coking coal.  WCM also argued that the KCCH should be exposed to much higher costs, which could have jeopardised the Judicial Review going ahead. However, Mrs Justice Beverley Lang agreed in February 2019 that the legal issues are arguable, that they justify a public hearing and that KCCH could have a cap of £5,000 on court costs under Aarhus rules.

WEST CUMBRIAN MINING ‘U-TURN’ ON MIDDLINGS COAL ?

Since then, and in an apparent U-turn, WCM has sent a letter to Cumbria County Council (disclosed as part of the legal case) that says all of the extracted Coal can now go into the Steel Industry. In light of that change, WCM indicates in the letter that it will submit a revised planning application to Cumbria County Council. However, much is unknown as to whether the total amount of Coal will remain the same or whether there is still going to be a by-product of Middlings Coal, and if so how the environmental impact of disposing of that waste product will be assessed by Cumbria County Council before any revised planning application is approved.

CLIMATE IMPACTS

Neither WCM nor Cumbria County Council have yet addressed criticisms of the climate change impact of the Coal Mine raised in a report published by the Green Alliance. We understand from the same letter that WCM intends to do so as part of any revised planning application.

Meanwhile, KCCH intends to proceed with the legal challenge, because there are still questions concerning GHG emissions and the Net Zero target which campaigners believe are unaffected by these revisions.

Marianne Birkby from KKCH, said:

“We are pleased that a date has now been set for the legal challenge which has had to overcome so many hurdles already to get us to this point. We feel that this coal mine has gone way under the radar for so long – the climate impacts alone should have stopped this plan in its tracks from the outset  but there is also the issue, much on our minds,  that this coal mine would extend to within 5 miles of the Sellafield site.  Cumbria would be the only place in the UK with deep mining infrastructure in place.    We are delighted that full legal scrutiny of the climate change impacts will be addressed despite the manoeuvrings of West Cumbria Mining to try and circumvent any such legal challenge.  We will continue to work tirelessly along with others to stop this, outrageously dangerous coal mine plan under the Irish Sea.”

ENDS

Notes:

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole – blog

https://keepcumbriancoalinthehole.wordpress.com

CrowdJustice page

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/cumbriancoal2/

Radiation Free Lakeland – website

https://wildar4.wixsite.com/radiation-free-land

West Cumbria Mining – website

https://www.westcumbriamining.com

Leigh Day

https://www.leighday.co.uk

Aarhus Convention

https://ec.europa.eu/environment/aarhus/legislation.htm

The Case Against New Coal Mines in the UK – report by Green Alliance

https://www.green-alliance.org.uk/resources/The_case_against_new_coal_mines_in_the_UK.pdf

Walk and Spring Wildlife Watch – date tbc

Walk and Spring Wildlife Watch – date to be confirmed

Dear Friends,

Thank you So Much for keeping on sharing and donating to the CrowdJustice page –everything put in the hat will go direct to the legal fund to take our case to Judicial Review.  We are still waiting for a date for our case to be heard – but it will be in Manchester!

Will let you know just as soon as we hear.

In the meantime we are planning a walk along the beautiful (but a bit challenging) cliff top from Whitehaven to St Bees.  The walk will include wildlife watching and maybe a bit of drawing too!

Seabirds, guillemots, gulls, ravens and more are all descending on the cliffs to nest so it is an exciting time.  This is the only nesting place in England of the black guillemot and the coal mine threatens that , as well as much else!   What is left of our wildlife is increasingly important.  A date for the walk is yet to be set but watch this space!

All Best Wishes

Marianne

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

 

 

 

Delivering the Petition to Call In the Crazy Coal Mine Plan to the Home Office

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Outside the Home Office, Kevin  the West Cumbrian Mining Canary has that sinking feeling! 

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Yesterday in the cold sunshine a couple of intrepid Cumbrians and a naked yellow ‘coal mine canary’ called Kevin made the journey to London.

We were delivering a petition signed by 1527 folk (now risen to 1582) who are asking the Secretary of State James Brokenshire MP to call in the outrageous decision for a new deep undersea coal mine.

We will keep the petition open to demonstrate the strength of feeling against this plan which so many people living nearby are opposed to.

On the same day that we were delivering the petition the Mayor of Copeland sent an extraordinary letter to the Secretary of State. In his letter the Mayor, Mike Starkie restates the view he expressed to Cumbria County Councillors.  The Mayor urges the Secretary of State to ignore the high level expert advice which has described the damage that this plan would do to our planet’s climate,  and to ignore the very real concerns of nuclear safety campaigners who fear this plan would increase the already intolerable and overwhelming radioactive risks from Sellafield to Cumbria and beyond.

West Cumbria Mining have spent £millions on promoting this plan with lobbyists wooing local MPs and government ministers many of whom have been lured by the entirely faux ‘environmental’ reassurances.

The Mayor of Copeland repeats the mantra that this plan has overwhelming support from ordinary West Cumbrians.  We would like to invite the Mayor of Copeland to take a walk with us, in the presence of a journalist to act as a witness, and to ask those we meet in the streets of Workington, Egremont, Whitehaven and Kells what their view is of West Cumbria Mining’s plan.

 

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The Mayor of Copeland and WCM keep on repeating the mantra that this mine is wanted by local folk.  It is true that West Cumbria is desperately in need of jobs and investment. What West Cumbria is not in need of is yet another dead duck and expensive (in more ways than one) industry to suck the remaining life out it.

Here are some excerpts of what locals are saying…

 

This was the view of everyone we chatted to in Workington (except one)

What are folk saying who live even nearer the proposed mine?

This is an extract from a letter sent by local folk to Cumbria County Council (it may be available on the CCC website  – although our letters of objection from Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole are not on!!)

“Pow Beck has the railway and a couple of wind turbines but in the main it is a tranquil, fairly secluded and pretty place. In our opinion the Railway Loading Facility will affect our environment with emission, dust, noise and light, and detrimental to the ecology here. The facility will impact the peaceful enjoyment of our home, St. Bees village and Pow Beck wildlife.

The building is large and railway sidings extensive. The facility will be visually overbearing and no amount of tree planting or timber clad buildings will soften its appearance on the landscape. They have planned technically advanced building to keep the dust, noise and emissions to regulation levels, but the Loading Facility will still be a noisy, dusty and bright facility in our quiet, dark valley.

By its very nature mining is a messy business and we are not convinced by the marketing and bright coloured CGI animations used to demonstrate how this MODERN mine will operate. The animation makes it looks so clean but we have the opinion that is far from the facts. It does not show the shunting of wagons to the sidings, the plumes of dust as each wagon is loaded; We read somewhere 4 trains’ daily transporting coal to Redcar. These quieter modern trains can pull at least 21 large covered coal wagons, not the 7/8 shown on the CGI.

In our estimate that must be a train over 200m long. The CGI does not show those large trains trundling past homes through Mirehouse, Parton or Harrington to name a few. Pow Beck is going to be a very different place at all times of the day and night. We thought the United Nations and EU have in place regulations to reduce carbon emissions to meet climate targets, yet here we are in Cumbria giving consideration to digging out millions of tonnes of coal. We would have thought political policy would have put the kibosh on mining in this country, indeed in March of this year our government rejected an open cast mine in Northumberland saying the environmental impact outweighs economic benefits.

In Wales, only last month, they have reached the decisions no new mining unless under exceptional circumstances. WCM say 80% will be exported. We produce the coal and let someone else burn it. What a legacy, will we ever learn? Mining coal is a retrograde step, Apologies to all those miners past and present, We don’t wish to be ungrateful for their legacy, but we should not be thinking of building a new mine, burning coal is never going to be clean enough and that’s the facts.

Since 2014 WCM Ltd have marketed the mines with the creation of jobs for a lot of people over a very long time, benefits for the economy; an investment for West Cumbria. It is our belief that the environmental costs and environmental risk are too high a price for all that. The coal is not an asset anymore, the burning of fossil fuel is a liability that our children will be paying for. Therefore, we ask that Cumbria County Council refuse this planning application and keep Copeland coal, and other pollutants locked beneath the sandstone out of harm’s way.”

That last line from folk living near this proposal is worth repeating

..”we ask that Cumbria County Council refuse this planning application and keep Copeland coal, and other pollutants locked beneath the sandstone out of harm’s way.”

These are the locals that the Mayor Mike Starkie wants the Secretary of State to ignore – having sucessfully urged the County Council to ignore them!    Is this what a Mayor is for?

 

Polar Bear Urges Freeze on Coal Mine Plan

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Last Friday 22nd February the Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole ‘Polar Bear’ highlighted the Beyond Crazy plan to mine for coal under the Irish Sea.  A photographer from the Whitehaven News met us at the train station in the town to walk up to the Haig Pit.

Everyone in the town we spoke to was opposed to the mine, some of the comments we heard were: “its a backward step”  “its too near Sellafield, too dangerous”.  This was all witnessed by the photographer from the Whitehaven News and shows the distance between the truth and the enthusiastic PR we have seen from West Cumbria Mining and those with an unaccountable (?) vested interest in seeing deep mining become ‘a thing’ once again in West Cumbria.  We also spoke to folk who live opposite the Haig Pit and their view is : “We don’t want it.”

The Whitehaven News reported : “The ‘polar bear’ was actually Sam Morris who, along with Marianne Birkby of the Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole campaign, was protesting against West Cumbria Mining’s plans to extract coking coal off the coast of St Bees.

“The pair tore up a copy of the Paris Agreement – a global agreement to tackle climate change – outside the developer’s Whitehaven office.

They believe the application goes against the agreement and Cumbria County Council’s Carbon Reduction Plan and Climate Local programme and that the mine’s proximity to Sellafield would increase the risk of earth tremors. They also claim mining under the Irish Sea could re-suspend radioactive particles from decades of Sellafield reprocessing and argue that there are other ways to produce steel.”

In response to our protest the developers replied to the local press that : 

“The WCM planning submission clearly sets out and responds to all of the questions raised by external parties over the last three years and provides clear scientific evidence based responses to all of these points, clearly demonstrating that there are no risks or significant impacts from the scheme.”   

Really?  The fact that this must be the most deferred planning application to go before Cumbria County Council ever, rather belies this statement.  The reason for the delays are that the Council, and the regulators are not happy with the content of WCM’s application and require further clarification and answers from the developers.

What can be clarified is that this development is Beyond Crazy while the rest of the world looks Beyond Coal.   A recent document handed to Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole (below) gives some insight into the climate impacts and the deaths that would result from opening up this deep coal mine.

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Meanwhile, the impacts on Sellafield are of course unquantifiable – an increase in seismicity in the area housing such a vast stockpile of the world’s most dangerous radioactive wastes is unthinkable.

There is a Petition To Sign Here – Please Sign and Share and lets give Cumbria County Council the message that this dangerous coal mine is not wanted