Challenge the Cumbria Coal Mine Decision

by South Lakes Action on Climate Change (SLACC)

Challenge the Cumbria Coal Mine Decision

by South Lakes Action on Climate Change (SLACC)
South Lakes Action on Climate Change (SLACC)
Case Owner
SLACC members oppose the mine because they know it will make climate change worse. This funding page was compiled by Maggie Mason, a retired minerals and waste planner and member of SLACC since 2007.
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South Lakes Action on Climate Change (SLACC)
Case Owner
SLACC members oppose the mine because they know it will make climate change worse. This funding page was compiled by Maggie Mason, a retired minerals and waste planner and member of SLACC since 2007.
Pledge now

This case is raising funds for its stretch target. Your pledge will be collected within the next 24-48 hours (and it only takes two minutes to pledge!)

Latest: Jan. 5, 2024


West Cumbria Mining have NOT started work to develop their coal mine AND our legal challenge of the planning permission is still "pending".

It could all kick off anytime. We expect a Hearing…

Read more

Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (LUHC), has now approved the new coal mine in Cumbria, shocking climate scientists, splitting the governing Conservative party and dismaying activists. National and international voices have denounced this as hypocrisy that completely undermines any climate leadership that the UK might have previously claimed.  

South Lakes Action on Climate Change (SLACC) has opposed this mine for 4 years and the reasons and details can be found on our webpage. Now the decision has been made, it can only be overturned by a successful Judicial Review. There is nothing to be gained by going over the issues again or submitting more evidence. Any legal challenge is only on procedural grounds or error of law. 

SLACC's legal team are currently going through Michael Gove's decision and the Planning Inspector's recommendation to see if there are reasonable grounds to mount such a legal challenge. SLACC Trustees need this "Counsel's Opinion" before they can decide whether to proceed, and take this battle for sanity to the bitter end. SLACC is a small charity, and all those who work on the Coal Mine are volunteers, but our legal team need funds to continue their magnificent work*.

So we cannot do this without your support. 

Our initial target is £10,000. After that SLACC will probably need another £60,000 to challenge Gove, and we will amend our stretch target later if necessary. Please give what you can afford, share around your friends and networks - and accept our heartfelt thanks for all your support. 

Contribute and share this page now! 

Also follow us on Twitter on @slacctt  and perhaps send a message to @luhc to let them know that you do not agree this mine should have been approved. 

* Our legal team have assisted SLACC since 2019,  enabled us to secure and take part in a Public Inquiry in 2021, and achieve everything up to this point. 

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Update 9

South Lakes Action on Climate Change (SLACC)

Jan. 5, 2024


West Cumbria Mining have NOT started work to develop their coal mine AND our legal challenge of the planning permission is still "pending".

It could all kick off anytime. We expect a Hearing date for our legal challenge this spring, but it's held up waiting for the Supreme Court's decision on the Horse Hill oil well case.    Visit our website for more information now.

Update 8

South Lakes Action on Climate Change (SLACC)

May 19, 2023


High Court agrees to hear coal mine legal challenge

South Lakes Action on Climate Change (SLACC) today welcomed a ruling from High Court judge Mrs Justice Thornton DBE, which means that the two legal challenges to the decision of the Secretary of State to grant permission for a new coal mine at Whitehaven, Cumbria will go forward to a three-day hearing in the second half of this year. 

This is in place of the Hearing that had been planned for next Tuesday, 23rd May, at which SLACC and Friends of the Earth (FoE), the two charities involved in the Public Inquiry in 2021, were going to renew their request to challenge Michael Gove's decision to approve the mine.

Having considered the documents submitted by all the parties in advance of the Hearing planned for next Tuesday, the Court cancelled the Hearing and gave permission for SLACC and FOE to present their case at a future ‘rolled-up’ hearing, where the application for permission and the substance of the Claimants’ statutory review will be heard simultaneously.

The case will be heard after the landmark Supreme Court challenge brought by Sarah Finch concerning oil drilling at Horse Hill in Surrey, which is scheduled for 21 June.

A key issue in that case is whether the greenhouse gases from burning oil should be taken into account when assessing the environmental harms from their extraction, and the Office of Environmental Protection has been given permission to intervene in the case.

West Cumbria Mining, the company behind the Whitehaven Mine have also been given permission to intervene, presumably because of the parallels with the use of coal in blast furnaces.

 SLACC view;

“This is a positive and sensible decision, which reflects the complexity and importance of the issues that need to be determined in the Whitehaven case, but which might also allow a rational and consistent process.

We look forward to a full hearing of our case, including that the Secretary of State failed to properly take into account the climate impacts of the mine and the international implications of this decision, and that the Inspector did not fairly consider the evidence as he should have.  

SLACC members and supporters continue to pursue this issue because the climate and ecological impacts of burning coal are increasingly rapidly, and new extraction starting now and continuing until 2049 is madness "

SLACC and FoE launched their legal challenges in January after the Secretary of State controversially granted planning permission for the UK’s first deep coal mine in 30 years, following a month long planning inquiry which took place in September 2021.


Update 7

South Lakes Action on Climate Change (SLACC)

April 23, 2023

Waiting for a court date...

SLACC is now waiting for a  court date,  to explain why there SHOULD be a Statutory Review of Michael Gove's decision.  We understand our request will be considered in the Royal Courts of Justice, i.e. in London not Manchester.

 If, as a result, we DO get permission to challenge the approval of the mine, the substantive case will also be heard at the Royal Courts of Justice.

Legal teams for SLACC and Friends of the Earth will both present their cases on the same day, and will liaise so that their cases don't overlap or repeat arguments. 

Update 6

South Lakes Action on Climate Change (SLACC)

April 13, 2023

High Court judge says NO to our challenge

On 11th April Sir Ross Cranston, sitting as a High Court judge, ruled that SLACC cannot start a Statutory Review to challenge Michael Gove's decision to approve the proposed coal mine at Whitehaven , Cumbria.

We are allowed to request a review of the High Court decision, and should be able to get a day in Court to explain why we SHOULD be allowed to challenge Gove's consent for the mine.

We have 7 days to "renew" our request, and the day in Court should then be in a couple of months time.

More news soon... Thanks to all who have helped us so far.

Update 5

South Lakes Action on Climate Change (SLACC)

Feb. 27, 2023

Further submission to High Court

On Friday 24th February SLACC and our legal team sent another submission to the High Court. This was in response to letters sent in to the Court by the Government's and West Cumbria Mining's legal teams. 

We expect a ruling from the Court fairly soon on: a) whether we have permission to continue with the legal challenge;  b) whether we have costs* protection and if so c) how much that "cap" would be.

Huge thanks to all those who have supported us to this stage. Updates will appear here, and also on our website.

* If SLACC loses the case the defendants (the  Secretary of State LUHC, West Cumbria Mining and Cumbria County Council) would ask us to pay their legal costs. The international Aarhus Convention provides for a "cap" to be set in this type of case.

Update 4

South Lakes Action on Climate Change (SLACC)

Jan. 13, 2023

Request for Statutory Review lodged!

We lodged papers at the High Court in Manchester yesterday - 13 January.  This is a huge step on the way to challenging Gove's decision. 

SLACC is asking the High Court for permission to bring a Statutory Review of Gove’s decision, and sets out four grounds of challenge which, in SLACC’s view, mean that the decision was unlawful and should be quashed.

Gove acknowledged that 220 million tonnes of greenhouse gases would be released from the coal extracted over the mine’s lifetime, and that most of the coal would be exported rather than used in the UK or EU,. but he still concluded that the mine would be “climate neutral or slightly beneficial”.

Our claim sets out the errors in law; the failure to give intelligible reasons, and the disparity of treatment between the parties that Mr Gove employed to arrive at this contradictory conclusion.

More details about the grounds for our challenge will appear on our website over the weekend. There are several more stages to the process and it may take several months before the final outcome of this challenge is clear.

We are also lowering our stretch target FOR NOW,  until we actually get consent to start the Statutory Review, and can see how our funds stand. 

Update 3

South Lakes Action on Climate Change (SLACC)

Jan. 7, 2023

Government Lawyers Reply!

On Friday 6th Government lawyers replied to SLACC's Pre Action Protocol letter. This will help us refine our claim, which must be lodged at the High Court by Friday 13th January.

Work on our legal challenge, how it dovetails with the challenge by Friends of the Earth, and how potential costs can be covered continues.

The UK government has backed the arguments of the international fossil fuel industry, and we need to face up to their combined forces in court.  We are much stronger together than either charity would be on their own!

We must hope that the fantastic support from all our donors here, and some charitable funders who are expressing interest will carry us through.

Please keep an eye on this page and we will let you know when we need another big push for funds.

(The deadline on this funding page is now 7 February and can be extended further if need be.)

Update 2

South Lakes Action on Climate Change (SLACC)

Dec. 23, 2022

SUPPORT the ONLY way to stop the Cumbria Coal Mine

You may have been asked to sign petitions to Rishi Sunak to stop the Cumbria Coal Mine. 

The Labour Party may have promised to reverse the decision. 

But the ONLY way Michael Gove's consent for this damaging, "coal phase down busting" decision can be reversed is by a legal challenge known as a Statutory Review.

Tiny Charity South Lakes Action against Climate Change has employed a great legal team since 2019, and they know the best way to challenge and reverse this decision. 

So many business and political leaders, faith groups and scientists have spoke out against the mine, but SLACC needs MONEY to take this forward. 

Our Trustees need to "press the button" on this by the 5th January. They should not be in the position of risking their homes in the battle for rationality and a just climate transition.  

Please help us. Fossil Fuel extractors cannot be allowed to ignore the GHG from the use of their oil, gas or coal, on the spurious grounds that they "don't have control" over them. Or that "someone else would supply if they didn't". 

The UK Government appears to have backed these "arms dealers" defences, and the chimera of Carbon Capture and Storage to allow a Hong Kong based,  Australian coal magnate to develop a replacement for a Siberian coal project!  

Please donate to, and share this fundraiser, as widely and quickly as you can.  

OR email me and the SLACC team to discuss any direct charitable donation.

Update 1

South Lakes Action on Climate Change (SLACC)

Dec. 23, 2022

SLACC working towards legal challenge of Coal Mine decision.

Today,  23rd December 2022, SLACC's legal team have sent a pre-action letter to the Secretary of State for Levelling Up Housing and Communities. This is not a definite commitment to submit a legal challenge. Our Trustees will take that decision very early in the New Year. 

They will need to have enough funds available to take that decision, so please give generously if you can afford it, and share this appeal with your networks and friends. Be assured that, in the unlikely event that SLACC does not proceed, and any funds are unspent, they will be passed on to support another legal battle against climate change.   SLACC will not retain such funds for our general funds. 

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