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?

 

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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

Workington says NO to New Coal Mine Under Irish Sea

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On Saturday 5th January Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole were joined by Cumbrian folk from Extinction Rebellion and the Green Party.  We spoke to dozens of shoppers in Workington at the market place and the verdict was a big NO to the first deep coal mine in the UK for over 30 years.

The word on the street is in direct contrast to the slick PR put out by the developers West Cumbria Mining and repeated verbatim by most media including the BBC (our complaint to the BBC is awaiting a reply)

We spoke to ordinary folk including miners who were adamant that there should not be a return to coal mining on the West Coast of Cumbria.  The reasons are many – the water situation in West Cumbria is already stressed, the mine would impact hydrology, would produce 175 million tonnes of CO2, the possibility of seabed collapse and earth movement is unthinkable so near to Sellafield….

Thank you to all the folk we spoke to.  Only one person thought the jobs were worth the damage  (just 500 jobs proposed for the mine – similar to a supermarket depot and no where near the jobs in renewables and energy efficiency technologies)

 

So Workington says No.

What are folk saying who live near 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.”

Please write your own letter to CCC quoting Planning reference 4/17/9007 Woodhouse Colliery

This plan is scheduled to be decided upon in Kendal by the Development Control Committee at the County Offices on FEB 22nd.  Not much time!  Please write to Cumbria County Council,s Development Control Committee and let them know you OBJECT. You can also ask to speak at the Meeting in Kendal – the more speakers the better chance we have of stopping the plan.

 Members of the Committee http://councilportal.cumbria.gov.uk/mgCommitteeDetails.aspx?ID=124

People also outside Cumbria can both object and speak if they register with nicola.harrison@cumbria.gov.uk

To Find the Planning Documents

You can insert insert application reference 4/17/9007 in Cumbria County Council’s search box  – and then click on the  “Documents” link on the right hand side.

NOTE The application reference  is 4/17/9007, West Cumbria Mining, Woodhouse Colliery. Written submissions can be sent to Jackie Currie, Cumbria County Council Development Control Team, County Offices, Busher Walk,  Kendal, Cumbria LA9 4RQ or via mail at developmentcontrol@cumbria.gov.uk.  or jackie.currie@cumbria.gov.uk

There is also an online petition.

COAL!! BBC & Magical Thinking

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Ashes and Dust

The BBC’s latest Christmas Cracker is to promote the first deep coal mine in the UK in 30 years like there is no tomorrow.

Yesterday’s Radio 4 PM programme treated listeners to the most highly sweetened, sickening concoction of greenwash promoting a coal mine.  The plan for Woodhouse Colliery under the Irish Sea extending over 50 years towards Sellafield  seems to be enjoying the most magical of magical thinking.

It is an enigma wrapped up in coal dust.  Where is George Monbiot?  Where is David Attenborough?   Where is the Extreme Energy Network?  Where are Extinction Rebellion? Where is Everyone?  What is the BBC’s Game?

COMPLAINT TO THE BBC

I was interested to hear the PM broadcast about the proposed first deep coal mine in over 30 years. We heard from the mining developers, the Mayor of Copeland and former miners, all of whom expressed delight with the proposal. There were no dissenting voices. The reporter’s questions were superficial and too easily satisfied by the developers cynical reassurances that the steel would be used for wind turbines. This is nonsense to hoodwink the public, they could just as well have pointed out that the biggest steel structure in the world is nuclear related -over Chernobyl. This bias from PM is shocking given that the West Cumbrian coal mine is the most methane rich in the country. Despite false assurances from the developers on the programme, it proposes to produce middlings, (thermal coal) as well as coking coal, the majority of which is for export. The DEFRA Emission Factors for Company Reporting, 2017 give upstream emissions from coking coal supply as 442kg CO2e per tonne of coal. The mine will extend closer to Sellafield than ever before with the attendant risk of earthquake from such huge abstraction of coal. I expected to hear from at least one of those opposing the mine to point out the cumulative dangers, but the programme ended in a congratulatory tone. This is shocking bias from the BBC given that this is a development which is due to go before Cumbria County Council maybe as soon as February.

Complaint to the BBC Woodhouse Colliery 27,12,18

Christmas Walk 7th Dec 2017

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Our mascot Bernie the Polar Bear invites you to a Christmas Walk on 7th Dec.

We will be meeting with Bernie the Polar Bear at 11am at the Beacon, Whitehaven to walk the beautiful clifftop walk to St Bees.

For those who don’t want to do the whole walk which is approximately 7 miles there is the option to join us for the first mile and take the opportunity to visit West Cumbria Mining’s open day at the Haig Colliery.  The more people who challenge their PR spin the better!

 

Trail: Walking

Grade: Hard  (muddy in parts and some parts near the cliff edge…Carefully, Slowly does it! OK for older children used to exposed walking)

Distance: 7 miles (11km)

Time: approx 4 hours  (walkers doing the full route will not visit the open day to make sure we have plenty of time for the walk)

Dont forget to Bring a packed lunch.

We will have a bite to eat at the end of the walk at the lovely St Bees Harbour Cafe

We will be meeting at 11 am  at the Beacon – Looking forward to a pre Christmas walk, Beautiful Coastline and Good Company!

 

 

A Walk from Whitehaven to St Bees …to Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole

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Guillemots at St Bees

Please join us on the 28th October as we Walk to Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole.  This is a challenging walk  and weather dependent.  (If the weather is really inclement we will still meet at the Beacon to walk and view the original coal pit entrances)

Whitehaven coastal walk to St Bees

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

The cliffs of St Bees provide the only nesting site in England for the black guillemot. Although rarely seen, puffins are also believed to nest here.  This area was once teeming with wildlife.  In 2017 that wildlife is now much rarer, with many species being on the red list..what remains is so very important and mining for coal with (just for example) damage to hydrology, risk of subsidence and seismic activity is worse than vandalism.

Trail: Walking

Grade: Hard

Distance: 7 miles (11km)

Time: 4 hours

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

 

Note:

It is suggested that shared cars are left at St Bees and the train is taken to Whitehaven for the start of the walk (it is one mile from the Station to the Beacon, a 20 minute walk)St Bees to Whitehaven.jpg