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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West Cumbrian Papers …at last some Grrr over the Coal Mine Plan

Thanks to the West Cumbrian press who have at last published a bit of Grrrr over the proposed coal mine.   Readers of the West Cumbrian press have so far been treated to first rate (and no doubt expensive) greenwash from the developers, so it is timely that at last (better late than never) the message is getting out that actually the plan to mine coal again in West Cumbria is a really REALLY bad idea.

Here is the article as appeared in much of the West Cumbrian press, this from the Times and Star-   – you can go to the Times and Star to see more (and add your own) on the comments section.  The article is in this weeks  Whitehaven News

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole, Extinction Rebellion and the Green Party protest over West Cumbria Mining plans

By Sarah Moore Chief Reporter
Campaigners stage a protest in Workington town centre on Saturday against plans to resurrect coal mining in West Cumbria

Campaigners stage a protest in Workington town centre on Saturday against plans to resurrect coal mining in West Cumbria

Members of Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole, Extinction Rebellion and the Green Party protested against West Cumbria Mining’s plans to redevelop Whitehaven’s former Marchon site and extract coking coal off the coast of St Bees, speaking to shoppers in Workington.

Protestor Marianne Birkby said: “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.

“Only one person thought the jobs were worth the damage (just 500 jobs proposed for the mine – similar to a supermarket depot and nowhere near the jobs in renewables and energy efficiency technologies).”

West Cumbria Mining is seeking permission from Cumbria County Council to open Woodhouse Colliery, which it says would have a planned operational lifespan of 50 years and extract up to 3.1 million tonnes of coal per year.

It would extract coking coal off the coast of St Bees, with a processing plant on the former Marchon site at Kells, before exporting to Redcar, on the east coast, and shipping it to the EU and beyond. The firm has said the scheme would create 500-plus jobs.

After a drop-in event last month, bosses said the scheme had had massive support, with 99 per cent positive feedback.

Helen Davies, head of communications for the firm, said: “West Cumbria Mining continues to progress the development of the Woodhouse Colliery project in an open and collaborative spirit. The company has held numerous engagement public events since 2014, where there has been consistently strong support for the scheme including from local members of parliament and cabinet ministers, together with hundreds of expressions of support submitted to Cumbria County Council in favour of the current planning application process for the project to move forwards.

“The WCM planning documentation 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 each of those points, clearly demonstrating that there are no risks or significant impacts from the scheme”

Cumbria County Council is consulting on the plans until January 28. Its development control committee is due to discuss the plans next month.

lakelandlad 7th January 6:45 pm

2 There is a high demand for this grade of COAL also a high demand for jobs as there has been a vast number of jobs lost . WHY do people (small number) fight against new employment are they incomers wanting a rural (peaceful) life. WEST CUMBERLAND use to be a highly industrial area not now.

Last Updated: 8th January 10:28 am

Neil Messenger 7th January 9:03 pm

1 Where do these people come from? 99% of people want West Cumbria Mining to succeed with their application.
Much need jobs and skills will be brought to the area.
Where did they get their “facts” about the amount of Co2 and earth movement?
Come on Cumbria County Council, do the right thing.

Last Updated: 8th January 10:28 am

James O’Fee 8th January 8:42 am

0 At first I disagreed with them but they are right in the fact that their is at least 5 old mines in the area, most prior to haig had poor mapping of seams dug which Haig unknowingly broke into over the years not knowing they were their which is still the case (unmapped seams). Flooding will be the downfall of this, haig was pumping 20,000 ltrs per hour out of Haig the pumps were so large they had to leave them down their when it closed and this was part of the reason it was uneconomical,if they break through the sponge rock (above the coal seam),it will flood constantly, regarding collapse and affecting sellafield unless they are digging under it it should have no impact whatsoever. The coal is high grade though without a doubt and burns cleaner than the coal Europe digs, its an interesting project but their forecasts are way over estimated they haven’t factored flooding costs and unforeseen circumstances such as old mine works which would be flooded already if they break into these god help them.

Last Updated: 8th January 8:44 am

Howgill 8th January 10:26 am

0 I don’t know where you acquired your “facts” regarding Haig – perhaps from those protesters? – but they are way off. Haig pumped about eightfold the figure you gave, but well over 90% of that was drainage from the landward side, fluctuating within days of rainfall – it was classed as a very dry pit, hence the tons of stone dust used on a daily basis to neutralise the coal dust.

While some of the plans of adjacent pits are not totally reliable there was, to my knowledge, only one case of Haig accidentally holing into old workings, and they were bone dry.

“……and this was part of the reason it was uneconomical” – well yes. the pumping wasn’t cost free so there’s a part truth there, but the real cause was the faulting – coal sells, stone doesn’t!

James O’Fee 8th January 6:40 pm

0 I got it from relatives who worked in haig who happened to be pit deputies,what I stated was correct and they had lots of openings into unknow shafts and seams a lot of this was unrecorded as it would shut production down they would simply brick it up and move elsewhere.why on earth would they pump from the landside it could run off the cliffs into the sea if that was the case,their are many photos of Haig I have yet to see any of surface pumps around the pit surface or pipework and hoses.

Last Updated: 8th January 6:47 pm

Howgill 8th January 8:25 pm

0 I think your relatives were pulling your leg! The plans of the Whitehaven Colliery are quite complete, even from the days before they were a legal requirement, and certainly so for the workings adjacent to Haig (Croft, Wellington, Saltom). There may be some errors due to the surveying methods used (magnetic dials were the norm in the early days) but nothing was unrecorded. “Bricking up and moving elsewhere” wasn’t necessary as these holings, with one exception, just didn’t happen.

The pumping of landward drainage. Water enters the old workings by percolation where the seams are close to the surface right along the hill from Greenbank to the harbour. This flows down and is collected by a watercourse running from Ladysmith via Croft, Kells, Saltom and King to Wellington. Water from William Pit (Bransty, Harras Moor ingress) arrived in a similar way and all was pumped from the lodge 1,000 feet down the Haig shafts which was connected into it (purposely) in 1919. How do I know this? I worked in Haig, and Wellington, and as part of my work had regular access to all the plans which you say don’t exist.

WCM will not be entering any areas of unrecorded old workings and will be leaving substantial barriers against the known workings just as we did at Haig.

Last Updated: 8th January 8:27 pm

McAll W 8th January 2:15 pm

0 Oh look, the daytrippers have made it all the way to Workington this time (having held their last protest in Windermere because that’s probably as far into Cumbria as most of them can be bothered travelling).

Dagsannr 8 hrs ago

0 Digging up coal, regardless of the safety or environmental concerns of the mine itself, is a ridiculous idea. It’s polluting, unnecessary and the world is moving on.

Want jobs? Get the government to subsidise renewables to the same extent that it subsidises oil and gas and you’ll soon see job creation.

Good on the Morning Star for reporting that there is opposition to this Coal Plan…

morning star

MORNING STAR

Friday January 4th 2019 by Peter Lazenby

“PLANS to sink the first new deep coal mine in Britain for decades are being backed by the National Union of Mineworkers.

The support comes in the face of intense opposition from environmental campaigners, who will protest tomorrow in the Cumbrian town of Workington against the proposal to drive into coal reserves beneath the Irish Sea.

West Cumbria Mining wants to establish the new mine, Woodhouse Colliery, on a former industrial site at Whitehaven.

If the plan goes ahead, the mine will produce three million tonnes of coal a year – roughly the same as the amount produced at Britain’s last deep coal mine, Kellingley colliery in Yorkshire, which closed in December, 2015.

The Whitehaven proposal has met with widespread condemnation from environmental campaigners. As well as being opposed to the burning of coal in principle, they object to the Cumbrian site partly because of its proximity to the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant.

National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) general secretary Chris Kitchen said: “The mine is planned to be built on the former Marchon industrial site near Woodhouse and has the potential to create 500 jobs. The site has been designed to minimise environmental impact.

“If the company do what they say they are going to do, I don’t see where the objections can be, other than ‘not in my back yard.’ The NUM would be in favour of this mine going ahead.”

He said modern mining could be carried out in a way which “alleviates environmental concerns.”

Mr Kitchen added: “We manage the effects of coal mining in a safe and responsible way. All the concerns can be addressed by modern methods.”

The union opposes the controversial fracking process of gas extraction.

“With fracking, you have no idea what is going on underground,” Mr Kitchen said. “But with coal mining, you are there. We know what we are doing, so I am in favour of new deep coal mines – and we need the jobs.”

Opponents of the new mine will demonstrate tomorrow from 10.30am in Workington town centre.

Campaigner Marianne Birkby said the protest will “generally show resistance to this diabolic plan for the first deep coal mine in the UK in over 30 years.”

Workington says NO to New Coal Mine Under Irish Sea

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole Workington 5.1.19.jpg

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.

Meet at the Workington Clock Next Saturday 5th January to show Opposition to the West Cumbrian Coal Mine

We hope that more folk will join those already opposing the plan and look forward to seeing you next Saturday 5th Jan from 10.30 till approx 12.30.  If you cannot come along on Saturday please contact me at :    wastwater @ protonmail.com for petition sheets/offers of help.
Poster small
(financial help to print leaflets etc would be fab- we are all volunteers.  Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole is a Radiation Free Lakeland campaign so our very limited resources are stretched)