HELP STOP THE CUMBRIAN COAL MINE - under Sellafield's nuclear wastes!

by Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole

HELP STOP THE CUMBRIAN COAL MINE - under Sellafield's nuclear wastes!

by Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole
Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole
Case Owner
Marianne Birkby
Funded
on 04th December 2020
£4,830
pledged of £5,000 stretch target from 177 pledges
Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole
Case Owner
Marianne Birkby

Latest: Aug. 28, 2021

Earthquakes and Blind Spots


Dear Friends,

Thank you for all the amazing support to Stop the Coal Mine in Cumbria, 


As you will know the coal mine will now be subject to a forthcoming planning inquiry which starts on 7th Sept…

Read more

We urgently need to raise funds to challenge the new plan to open the first deep coal mine in the UK in over 30 years.

Previous huge generosity of supporters has already delayed the plan.  The developers West Cumbria Mining's initial plan was to start construction in 2017!

A legal challenge was put forward in my name under the banner Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole (a Radiation Free Lakeland campaign).  The detailed work by top lawyers Leigh Day meant that the legal challenge led to developers  amending their application.  In October of this year despite overwhelming evidence on the enormous climate and nuclear impacts the amended plan received planning permission from (a no longer unanimous) Cumbria County Council.

Climate Impacts

Now we need funds to continue the fight and STOP THIS COAL MINE.  While the climate impacts of this mine have been much in the news, with the enormous carbon emissions over the lifetime of the mine, the nuclear impacts have been more taboo and were not even mentioned by the councillors in their deliberations.

Nuclear Impacts

The mine would be five miles from the world’s riskiest nuclear waste site -Sellafield   Mass void removal as proposed by this coal mine is known to induce seismicity.   As well as this certain seismic risk the mine would be directly below the radioactive sediments which have settled on the Irish Sea bed from decades of Sellafield discharges.  The radioactive sediment estimated to include around 500kg of plutonium along with a cocktail of other radioactive isotopes ( the devastation of Nagasaki was caused by 1kg of plutonium) is named as the Cumbrian Mud Patch. In approving the plan the County Council acknowledged that seismicity and subsidence of the Irish Sea bed is likely but that it could be "mitigated" - with the developers self moderating impacts. Incredibly Sellafield is “in support” of the coal mine plan which lies below  the decades worth of their radioactive waste discharge lying on the Irish Sea bed (the plan was to "dilute and disperse").

No Coming Back

The nuclear impacts are of a magnitude literally out of this world as the high level radioactive wastes and plutonium stockpiles sitting at Sellafield if accidently released through induced seismicity from methane explosion or mass void removal could do what they were originally designed to do and annihilate the biosphere many times over. This and the certain risk of resuspension of the Cumbrian Mud Patch wastes means that this coal mine puts us all at direct risk of a nuclear fall out there would be no coming back from.

Public Inquiry?

Campaigners have also been lobbying the Secretary of State to call the decision in for a public inquiry. If a public inquiry is called we would use any donations to pay for expert advice and representation by Leigh Day.

With your help we can challenge this outrageous decision by Cumbria County Council.  This coal mine would have impacts way beyond the sum of its parts.

With your help we can and we MUST STOP the Cumbrian Coal Mine 



Get updates about this case

Subscribe to receive email updates from the case owner on the latest news about the case.

Recent contributions

Be a promoter

Your share on Facebook could raise £26 for the case

I'll share on Facebook
Update 27

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole

Aug. 28, 2021

Earthquakes and Blind Spots


Dear Friends,

Thank you for all the amazing support to Stop the Coal Mine in Cumbria, 


As you will know the coal mine will now be subject to a forthcoming planning inquiry which starts on 7th September.  Like me I am sure you will be appalled to learn that seismic impacts are being sidelined.

 

This is a far cry from the Fracking Inquiries which you will remember majored on earthquake risks.  Fracking is very bad for causing earthquakes but deep coal mining through faulted geology (near Sellafield) is even worse.

Please sign and share this new petition to the Planning Inspector and lets make sure he takes account of this very serious and much neglected issue.   

https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/coal-produces-more-earthquakes-than-fracking-so-lets-talk-about-sellafield-and-the-mine

 

With Many Thanks

Marianne

Radiation Free Lakeland and the Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole campaign

Update 26

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole

July 7, 2021

Tim Farron MP Calls for Inspector to Have Sight of New Coal Mine Plans

Top image is Copeland Search area for Consideration for Geological Disposal Facility

Bottom image is West Cumbria Mining licence application areas for under the Irish Sea - the black bits are known land and sea coal reserves.  Details of the latest applications from the developers are being withheld from public view.  


Dear Friends,

Thank you so much to everyone for donating to Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole - a Radiation Free Lakeland campaign.  Further Donations mean that we will be able to  continue to have the expert advice of lawyers Leigh Day to call upon.  

The Coal Authority are refusing to give the public sight of the latest licence applications from West Cumbria Mining despite our repeated calls for them to do so

At Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole's request Tim Farron MP has sent  a letter to the Coal Authority urging them to at least ensure the Planning Inspector at the forthcoming Inquiry has sight of the licences.

The inquiry is, I believe, flawed in many other respects.  Not least because the County Council have now withdrawn their planning approval for the mine.  We wonder if there are any other cases of a public inquiry having been held into a decision that no longer stands?   The Coal boss Mark Kirkbride has been appointed to advise the government on "Delivery" of a deep geological nuclear dump for the UK's heat generating nuclear wastes.   NO-one in their right mind would think of burying heat generating nuclear waste in or under a coal mine however, the proposed coal mine is slap bang in the middle of the subsea "search area" for a GDF. 

The coal mine development will now be ultimately decided upon by  government - the same government who have appointed the coal boss to advise them on nuclear dump plans.  Crazy creepy or what?

It is remarkable to put it mildly that non of this blatant cronyism has been reported in the media or raised any NGO eyebrows given the huge public interest in this coal mine (the public interest is largely thanks to the help of all who have donated to Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole).

I have copied our latest press release, (ignored by the press) to the Society of Editors to ask if there is a reason for the silence - maybe it just isn't newsworthy? (!!)

With all best wishes

Marianne

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole - a Radiation Free Lakeland campaign

Our associated campaign Lakes Against Nuclear Dump can be seen here https://www.lakesagainstnucleardump.com/

sent by email 5th July 

Dear Society of Editors,

We have been directed to you following a FOI to the Defence and Security Media Advisory Committee following the worrying lack of reporting on the appointment of the CEO of Cumbria Coal mine to the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management.  There has been acres of press on the climate impacts of the Cumbria Coal Mine in contrast to nothing (apart from in the Isle of Man) on the cronyism surrounding the appointment of the coal boss Mark Kirkbride to CoRWM.

Our latest press release to national and local press is below.  So far we have had no response.  If this has not got a DA notice on it then we wonder why the silence on this serious issue.

If you can shed any light on why there appears to be a media black out we would be very grateful.

with kind regards

Marianne Birkby on behalf of Radiation Free Lakeland


FOI to MOD

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/west_cumbria_mining_connections#incoming-1770677

Press Notice sent out today...

PRESS NOTICE

CUMBRIA COAL MINE’S LICENCE APPLICATIONS SHROUDED IN “ALICE IN WONDERLAND” SECRECY.


In a letter sent to the Coal Authority today, the nuclear safety campaigners who were the first to raise opposition to the Cumbrian Coal Mine back in 2017, say that the forthcoming Public Inquiry would be "invalid and an entirely profligate waste of public money".  This is, they say, because "Cumbria County Council has now withdrawn its planning approval for the mine and the latest Cumbrian coal mine licence applications are shrouded in secrecy”  


The controversial coal mine developers, West Cumbria Mining (WCM), have applied for two new applications which Radiation Free Lakeland (RaFL) have repeatedly asked for sight of under Freedom of Information.  The Coal Authority have replied to the campaign group saying that:  "the Operator (WCM) does not give permission to have their applications disclosed…for the reasons (of operator confidentiality) set out in the public interest test.”  

Another twist in the long held opposition to the mine by nuclear campaigners is that the CEO of the coal mine, Mark Kirkbride was appointed in 2019 (in the days following the County Council's coal mine approval) to the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management. CoRWM are the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy appointed body who advise government on ‘Delivery of a Geological Disposal Facility” for high level nuclear wastes.  RaFL have long argued that the coal mine is primarily a "Trojan Horse to embed the infrastructure in Cumbria for a deep nuclear dump."


Marianne Birkby, the founder of Radiation Free Lakeland who set in motion a Judicial Review against the coal mine with environmental lawyers Leigh Day, has said:  "For the Coal Authority to say that it is in the public interest to protect the wishes of the developer in non-disclosure is very Alice in Wonderland like. Disclosure of Information regarding developments which would produce emissions is a legal obligation.  Emissions in the case of this uniquely dangerous coal mine would include not only CO2, and methane (the developer’s exploratory boreholes have already accidentally hit a methane pocket a few miles from Sellafield under the Irish Sea’)  but also radioactive emissions from resuspension of 70 years worth of Sellafield’s wastes resulting from the “likely subsidence” of the Irish Sea bed. There is also the possibility of seismic damage to Sellafield’s infrastructure. A haiirline crack which would be of negligible damage anywhere else, could be catastrophic at Sellafield, the world’s riskiest nuclear waste site." 

The campaign group’s letter to the Coal Authority today concludes that " disclosure of the licence applications would be the right thing to do,  both from a legal aspect and from the Coal Authority’s stated ideals of public interest, openess, transparency and safeguarding".  


 ENDS

..contact ...


LETTER TO COAL AUTHORITY SEE BELOW

Radiation Free Lakeland are running two major campaigns:

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole  https://keepcumbriancoalinthehole.wordpress.com/

Lakes Against Nuclear Dump https://www.lakesagainstnucleardump.com/

RADIATION FREE LAKELAND blog https://mariannewildart.wordpress.com/


Cumbrian Campaign Group granted permission for Judicial Review of County Council’s Approval of Coal Mine https://www.leighday.co.uk/latest-updates/news/2020-news/cumbrian-campaign-group-granted-permission-for-judicial-review-of-county-councils-approval-of-coal-mine/


https://www.leighday.co.uk/latest-updates/news/2020-news/vindication-for-campaigner-fighting-plan-for-deep-coal-mine-in-west-cumbria/

KIRKBRIDE COSTINGS FOR GDF HOLE - pg 233 onwards https://www.research.manchester.ac.uk/portal/files/182559187/FULL_TEXT.PDF



LETTER SENT TODAY TO THE COAL AUTHORITY

...

‐‐‐‐‐‐‐ Original Message ‐‐‐‐‐‐‐

On Monday, July 5th, 2021 at 8:44 AM, Wastwater wrote:


Dear Helen,

Thank you for your email explaining the Coal Authority's reasoning as to why they will not disclose West Cumbria Mining’s new applications to extend/vary their original 2013/14 licences.  It is of huge concern that the Coal Authority is deferring to the developer Mark Kirkbride of West Cumbria Mining in non-disclosure.    How can the public inquiry due to start in September be valid when the public and the Inspector have not had sight of the developer's plans?   Our MP Tim Farron has written to BEIS, asking that the Planning Inquiry Inspector should have full sight of West Cumbria Mining’s latest licence applications.

There are serious concerns too about the blatant cronyism between the controversial Government policy for “Delivery” of a Geological Disposal Facility for nuclear wastes and Mark Kirkbride CEO of West Cumbria Mining.  Kirkbride has been appointed by BEIS to the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management and has delivered initial costing estimates to government for mining a deep geological disposal facility for heat generating nuclear wastes within the same “search” area as his coal mine  (Kirkbride Costing for opening coal mine = £160M  /  Kirkbride Cost estimate for opening a GDF = £1.7  Billion ‘just for the hole’ using same suppliers as the coal mine)

For the Coal Authority to say that it is in the public interest to protect the wishes of the developer in non-disclosure is very Alice in Wonderland like.   Disclosure of Information regarding developments which would produce emissions is a legal obligation.   We note the following in relation to release of information to the public about developments which would produce emissions:

 "How is information relating to emissions treated differently? – regulation 12(9)

The Regulations stress transparency and openness in relation to information about emissions. They provide a greater right of access to information about emissions – regulation 12(9) removes the right to rely on certain exceptions if someone requests information is on emissions.

When requested information is on emissions, you cannot rely on the exceptions at:

  • regulation 12(5)(d) – confidentiality of the proceedings of a public authority
  • regulation 12(5)(e) – confidentiality of commercial or industrial information
  • regulation 12(5)(f) – interests of the person who provided the information
  • regulation 12(5)(g) – protection of the environment to which the information relates.

https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/guide-to-the-environmental-information-regulations/refusing-a-request/#when-can-we-refuse-a-request-for-environmental-information-10 "

Emissions in the case of this uniquely dangerous coal mine would include not only CO2, and methane (the developer’s exploratory boreholes have already accidentally hit a methane pocket a few miles from Sellafield under the Irish Sea’)  but also radioactive emissions from resuspension of 70 years worth of Sellafield’s radioactive waste discharge in the “likely subsidence” (say WCM)  of the Irish Sea bed. There is also the possibility of seismic damage to Sellafield’s infrastructure  -  a hairline crack of negligible damage anywhere  else could be catastrophic at Sellafield.  A "negligible" risk of seismic damage is too much in this vicinity.

We believe that disclosure of the licence applications would be the right thing to do both from a legal aspect and from the Coal Authority’s ideals of public interest, openess, transparency and safeguarding.  

We ask the Coal Authority again for full sight of West Cumbria Mining’s latest licence applications with reference to the following:

"There is a presumption in favour of disclosure.  The public authority must weigh the public interest arguments for maintaining the exception in regulation 12(5)(b) against those for disclosure.     General principles of regulation 12(5)(b) 5. Under EIR regulation 5(1), public authorities are under a duty to make available environmental information that has been requested. Regulations 12(4) and 12(5) provide exceptions to this duty. 6. The exceptions under regulation 12(5) allow a public authority to refuse to disclose environmental information where “its disclosure would adversely affect” the interests listed in each exception. 7. The public authority must apply a presumption in favour of disclosure, both in engaging the exception and in carrying out the public interest test.     https://ico.org.uk/media/for-organisations/documents/1625/course_of_justice_and_inquiries_exception_eir_guidance.pdf "

CONCLUSIONS AND ACTIONS


  • All the information within WCM’s latest licence applications should be made available in the public interest (financial information could be redacted).  
  •  MP Tim Farron has at our request written to the Secretary of State for BEIS to ask that the latest full licence applications are made available to the Inspector in the forthcoming Planning Inquiry into the coal mine .  
  • Without full sight of the latest licence applications to the Coal Authority from the developer, - the public and the Planning Inquiry cannot make independent judgements on the severity of the likely emissions.  Emissions include CO2, Methane and Radioactive Emissions from Sellafield’s nuclear wastes which are now largely sitting in the seabed but would be resuspended with “likely subsidence” of the Sellafield Mud Patch.
  • Sellafield’s infrastructure just five miles away is at serious risk from this coal mine notwithstanding the nonchalance of the Office for Nuclear Regulation. On the Sellafield site, the Magnox Swarf Silo  for example has unknown leaks from unknown cracks in the concrete containment which is partly beneath ground.  Sellafield have last month asked for help in finding and mitigating the leak of 550 gallons per day of radioactive liquor into groundwater beneath the site from unknown cracks. Fracking was halted because of earthquake risk and yet the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering have stated that coal mining induced earthquakes are of a magnitude greater than fracking : "Seismicity induced by hydraulic fracturing is likely to be of smaller magnitude than the UK’s largest natural seismic events and those induced by coal mining".  
  • Without full disclosure of the latest licence applications the forthcoming coal mine planning inquiry is, we believe, invalid and an entirely profligate use of public money,  especially as Cumbria County Council has now withdrawn its planning approval for the mine.  
  • Withdrawal of planning approval for the coal mine from the local planning authority, Cumbria County Council should be honoured by the Coal Authority and BEIS.  
  • In all conscience the Coal Authority and BEIS should act to ensure that the coal mine plan is scrapped with immediate effect. This would avoid the profligate expense of a worse than useless Public Inquiry whose findings (in any event) would be null and void given the lack of social and legal licence from the Local Planning Authority and the non-disclosure of West Cumbria Mining’s latest licence applications.
  • We are asking the Coal Authority one more time for sight of West Cumbria Mining’s latest licence applications before escalating this as a formal complaint to the Information Commissioner.


Yours sincerely


Marianne 

Marianne Birkby on behalf of Radiation Free Lakeland

campaigns include: 

 Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole

Lakes Against Nuclear Dump



Copied to BEIS, Tim Farron MP, Planning Inspectorate 


Additional Information:


Office for Nuclear Regulation replies to Radiation Free Lakeland “just plain wrong” https://mariannewildart.wordpress.com/2021/05/06/risk-to-sellafield-from-the-coal-mine-is-extremely-low-say-the-office-for-nuclear-regulation-as-another-pig-flies-by/


Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering report on Fracking. Coal Mining induced earthquake "of a magnitude greater”  than fracking  https://royalsociety.org/topics-policy/projects/shale-gas-extraction/report/


Negligible Risk of Induced Seismicity near Sellafield is too much.   "An interactive workshop on Tuesday, May 25 2021...Sellafield are seeking ideas, innovations and technologies capable of game changing solutions to prevent or minimise leaks from Magnox Swarf Silo Storage. Current leak rates are around 1.5 – 2.5 m3/d and Sellafield want to reduce these as much as possible.The concrete silos, built in three stages between 1962-1982, contain magnesium cladding, or swarf, stripped from Magnox fuel prior to reprocessing. The swarf is stored underwater in the silos but, over time, the stored contents corrode, releasing heat and hydrogen…"

https://www.intechbrew.com/game-changers-storage-silo-challenge/


Evidence Sent to the Cumbrian Coal Mine Public Inquiry from Radiation Free Lakeland - including water impacts of the proposed coal mine.  Cumbria’s drinking water includes that drawn from boreholes by United Utilities at South Egremont, just a mile from the already leaking Magnox Swarf Silo.  Sellafield needs top quality water for many nuclear processes and takes R1 (top quality) water from Wastwater. https://keepcumbriancoalinthehole.wordpress.com/2021/05/02/evidence-sent-to-the-public-inquiry-please-send-your-own-in-before-may-6th/

 


Letter from the Coal Authority to Radiation Free Lakeland


10 May 2021

 Dear Ms Birkby

 W: www.gov.uk/coalauthority

Reference: FOI 04-2021

Request for Internal Review under the Freedom of Information Act 2000

I write in connection with your request for an Internal Review, which was received by The Coal Authority on 9 April 2021.

An independent review has now taken place with regard to your original Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) request and response, our reference FOI 71-2020. The review has considered the reasons stated in your appeal and the legislative compliance under the Act.

My findings are as follows:

Your Freedom of Information Act request was received on 4 March 2021 and following our extension of the deadline to consider a public interest test we responded to you on 7 April 2021, complying with the legislative response requirements.

I have considered your arguments in the application of exemptions Section 43(2) Commercial Interests and Section 44(1)(a) Prohibition on disclosure relying upon Section 59(1)(a)(b) of the Coal Industry Act 1994.

The Coal Authority is still determining the two applications and following a request to the Operator as to whether they would assist in any disclosure requirements the Operator does not give permission to have their applications disclosed.

 

I am in agreement with the application of exemption Section 43(2) for the reasons set out in the public interest test. The commercial interests of the operator must also be considered.

In conclusion, I uphold the decision of the response dated 7 April 2021 not to disclose the West Cumbria Mining Ltd applications for a variation to existing Conditional Licences UND/0177/N and UND/0184/N.

Request for disclosure under Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR)

On 13 April 2021, the Coal Authority received your request that the West Cumbria Mining Ltd applications’ for a variation to existing Conditional Licences UND/0177/N and UND/0184/N be considered for disclosure under Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR).

The Coal Authority has considered whether the public interest favours disclosure or whether it favours maintenance of the relevant exception. When considering this exception the Coal Authority has considered the presumption in favour of disclosure in accordance with Regulation 12(2) of the EIR. The Coal Authority has taken into account the following public interests arguments when considering your request:

  1. The interest in the Authority being transparent and accountable to the public, and the public being able to better participate in environmental decision-making. The information that is contained in the application forms constitutes technical or commercial information. That information requires consideration by the Authority as the expert regulator in the context of its duties within the Coal Industry Act 1994 and these are not matters upon which the public are required to be consulted. In this context the public interest is satisfied by the Coal Authority disclosing the fact that an application for coal mining operations exists and is available on the Coal Authority’s website. 
  2. The interest in the public understanding how coal resources are exploited by private entities in England and Wales. However, the same point applies as above with regard to how this interest is met.

The Coal Authority also considers the following arguments to apply in favour of maintaining this exception:

  1. The exception protects confidentiality provided by law. By way of Section 59 of the Coal Industry Act 1994 this specifically provides for the confidentiality of information provided by commercial operators and the Authority also consider that the common law duty of confidence is engaged in these circumstances. There is a strong public interest in ensuring that such confidentiality is maintained.
  2. If the information within these applications were to be made public then applicants may be less inclined to voluntarily provide information within the application forms, which could negatively impact the application process. In determining applications the Coal Authority is required to undertake important considerations in relation to potential subsidence, health 

 

and safety, and ensuring that the operator applicant is able to finance the proper carrying on of the mining operations and discharge any liabilities related to those operations. All of these matters could impact upon the public and it is of primary importance that the Coal Authority is able to effectively undertake its role as expert regulator. The Coal Authority needs to be able to do this in an environment that is considered to be a “safe space” by the Applicant where they are prepared to be fully transparent with the Coal Authority as regulator and not inhibited in the information they provide.

The same public interest arguments in favour of disclosure apply as in relation to Regulation 12(5)(d) above. The Authority also considers the following to apply:

There are a number of primary issues that require consideration in determining a licence application including ensuring that the Coal Authority is satisfied that there are sufficient finances for the project, including sufficient finances to provide appropriate security to address potential issues such as subsidence. This requires the disclosure of sensitive financial information, as well as information gathered by the applicant in relation to the proposed site and which is not otherwise available to their competitors. If this information is made publicly available then the applicant may be less inclined to be transparent with the Coal Authority in relation to such matters, which could negatively impact upon the considerations to be undertaken by the Coal Authority. The Coal Authority therefore considers there to be a legitimate economic interest of operators that there is a public interest in maintaining.

In light of the above, the Coal Authority considers that the public interest weighs in favour of maintaining this exception.

The Coal Authority refuses your request under Regulation 14(3)(a) in relation to the application of the first exception Regulation 12(5)(d).

Yours sincerely Helen Simpson

Records Manager

Coal Authority

 

 

Sent with ProtonMail Secure Email.

‐‐‐‐‐‐‐ Original Message ‐‐‐‐‐‐‐

On Monday, May 10, 2021 4:10 PM, Helen Simpson <HelenSimpson@coal.gov.uk> wrote:


For the attention of Marianne Birkby

 

Please find attached the Coal Authority responses to your requests for an Internal Review FOI 04-2021 and consideration under EIR.

 

Kind regards

Helen Simpson

Helen Simpson

Records Manager, Coal Authority 

Update 25

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole

May 28, 2021

Mr Nuclear Waste and Mr Coal - Top Cronies..Shhhh!


Dear Friends,


Thank you to everyone who has contributed to and continues to follow  our campaign to Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole (and Nuclear Waste Out!). 

No doubt you will have seen and heard some of the recent media coverage ranging from Women's Hour to the 'Long Read' in the Guardian.  This is brilliant in one way as the coal mine went for so long without any criticism at all from the media or NGOs. There are however high level omissions in all the reporting and I fear that our Government are only too happy for the focus to be myopically on climate rather than the blatant cronyism of the coal mine boss having been appointed to ADVISE the government on nuclear dump plans.  How on earth can the forthcoming public inquiry be impartially decided upon by a government minister when the most powerful tier of government, the Dept of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is taking advice from the coal mine boss, Mark Kirkbride?  Not only that but the Coal Authority (who are under BEIS)  are deferring to the coal boss's wish not to place the new Coal Authority licence  applications in the public domain. Again how on earth can there be a public inquiry in which the public don't know what the developer has planned?

We are countering these high level omissions but our public reach is small.   

Please write to your MP,  (and anyone else you can think of - letters to the press etc ). asking them the following questions:

1.  How can Government make an impartial decision on the coal mine when the Government have employed the coal mine CEO Mark Kirkbride to advise them on "Delivery of a Geological Disposal Facility" for heat generating nuclear wastes?  The area next to the mine under the Irish Sea is in the frame.  Mark Kirkbride has been asked to produce costings on construction and mining.

2. How can the Public Inquiry be in any way open and honest when the public and presumably the Planning Inspector are not being allowed sight of  the developer's latest applications for Coal Authority Licences, including in subsea areas of the Irish Sea where there is no coal reserve.   The Coal Authority have confirmed that they are deferring to the developer, West Cumbria Mining, who want to keep the licences confidential - even redacted public access has been refused.

3. Cumbria County Council have withdrawn their support for the coal mine and the Secretary of State for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy Kwasi Kwarteng has said there are "compelling reasons" to block the coal mine. Organisations from Ethical Consumer Research Association to West Cumbria Water (Save our water services} have asked: Why doesn't the Secretary of State  use his discretion to make a decision on the Coal Authority licences, block the licences and save the public the huge expense of an inquiry?  

Here below is a recent letter (unpublished) written to the Guardian in response to Rebecca Willis'  "Long Read."  

Dear Editor,

“Dig Coal to Save the Climate” ( May 27th 2021 The Long Read by Rebecca Willis) could be titled “Dig Holes to Hide Nuclear Waste.”  Way back in 2018 I wrote a letter to the Guardian exposing the dodgy coal mine plan (Cumbrian coal must stay in the ground where it belongs - Letters Wed 28 Mar 2018).  Truths yet to be exposed by mainstream journalists include: Sellafield (five miles away) fully supports the mine; the Coal Authority (who report to BEIS) handed developers the £2.5 Million Heritage Lottery Funded Haig Colliery Mining Museum and Land for £1; and most concerning the coal mine boss Mark Kirkbride has been appointed to advise Government on "Delivery” of a deep nuclear dump for heat generating wastes i.e. a “Geological Disposal Facility.”   Back in 1997 Cumbria County Council opposed Government plans (NIREX) for a Rock Characterisation Facility to test out Cumbria’s complex geology for a deep nuclear dump.  West Cumbria Mining have, since 2013, when they were given a free pass by the Coal Authority to drill ‘exploratory’ boreholes along the West Coast of Cumbria, achieved what NIREX failed to do.  Rock characterisation core samples are now stacked in boxes, like the final scene from Raiders of the Lost Arc, in the Haig Colliery Mining Museum. The Government’s Committee on Radioactive Waste Management have asked the coal boss, Mark Kirkbride, to give costings on the digging of a big hole for a deep nuclear dump. The nuclear dump is, we are told “possible” under the Irish Sea bed adjacent to the coal mine.  The same coal mine that will now be decided upon by Government (who are employing the coal boss as advisor).  Cronyism doesn’t get any more blatant.  There are high level omissions in the Long Read."

Finally we have an ongoing Petition to draw attention to the intolerable situation with the Coal Authority Licences - please do sign and share https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/block-new-coal-licences-for-cumbria

With Many Thanks

Marianne

Update 24

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole

May 3, 2021

Evidence for Cumbria Coal Mine Public Inquiry - Please Send in by May 6th

     

Dear Friends,

below is our evidence to the public inquiry – please do feel free to use this as inspiration for your own letters to the Planning Inspectorate.

Our evidence is not a full list by any means – for example we havn’t mentioned the re-routing of the Wainwright Coast to Coast or the fact that this area is the last breeding place in England of the black guillemot.

In conclusion we have said :

Radiation Free Lakeland strongly urge the Planning Inspector to consider issues which he may initially have felt were outside the scope of this Inquiry but which have been central to our concerns from the outset. Issues including nuclear safety and drinking water quality.  Issues which may in the final analysis be of even more overwhelming concern than climate impacts.   Nuclear impacts would be catastrophic for the immediate and long term future and viability of not only Cumbria’s health and safety but the health and safety of our neighbouring countries.  Our final thought is to leave the image of our first thought upon seeing West Cumbria Mining’s vision of the coal mine.  It looks uncannily similar to the view of the Chernobyl sarcophagus and for those living in the shadow of Sellafield looks like the threat of a nuclear sacrifice zone rather than a promise of a “green mine.”   

We urge the Planning Inspector to overturn Cumbria County Council’s approval for this uniquely dangerous coal mine.

Please do write to the Planning Inspectorate, include your name and address and write before May 6th to this address, if you would like to speak at the inquiry please do let the Planning Inspectorate know.

Email: inquirydocuments4@planninginspectorate.gov.uk
Quote reference ‘APP/H0900/V/21/3271069
By post. (please send 3 copies written in black if possible)
Letters can be sent to:
Ms Elizabeth Humphrey
The Planning Inspectorate
Room 3/J Kite Wing
Temple Quay House
2 The Square
Bristol, BS1 6PN

Our full letter is below (and you can see original with images here)– please do use for inspiration for your own letters to the Planning Inspectorate

 

Email: inquirydocuments4@planninginspectorate.gov.uk                                                                    

Applicant’s name: West Cumbria Mining Ltd

1st May 2021                                                      

Call-in reference:      APP/H0900/V/21/3271069

Dear Planning Inspectorate,

Rule 6 Status Withdrawal

Thank you for awarding Radiation Free Lakeland (RaFL) Rule 6 status.   On reflection we formally request withdrawal from Rule 6.  The reason for this is that RaFL does not have the funding to withstand demands for costs from other parties resulting from the Inquiry, our experience is that West Cumbria Mining may aggresively seek costs from us (evidence below).

Thank you for the opportunity to submit evidence to the inquiry. I formally request permission to submit Radiation Free Lakeland’s evidence verbally at the Inquiry. 

 I request that the evidence below is considered by the Inquiry. 

Radiation Free Lakeland  

Radiation Free Lakeland was formed in 2008 specifically to oppose the plan for Geological Disposal of nuclear wastes.  This we did sucessfully when Cumbria withdrew from the then Managing Radioactive Wastes Safely “steps towards Geological Disposal” in 2013.  (1)

Other successful campaigns have included the prevention of lower levels of radioactive wastes being buried at the old Keekle Head open cast coal mine site Keekle Head, Near Workington, Copeland, a former open cast coal mine whose owners reneged on an agreement to remediate the site.  (2)

On behalf of Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole I took on a legal challenge with the help of lawyers Leigh Day (3) against the County Council’s original planning approval.  That challenge has been successful in that we engaged the interest and energy of climate activists to oppose the plan and West Cumbria Mining were forced back to the drawing board with a new ‘amended’ planning application.

Brief Time- Line of the Legal Challenge 

31st May 2017 – West Cumbria Mining applied to Cumbria County Council for planning permision for a new underground coal mine with coking coal intended for use in the steel industry and middlings coal intended as a fuel source for other industrial uses.

March 2019 – Cumbria County Council resolved to grant planning permission.

June 21st 2019 – Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole wrote to Cumbria County Council pointing out that their flawed decision justified a reconsideration.  The letter addressed a number of legal issues, including Cumbria County Council’s failures to consider:Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of the mining operations, the need for, and GHG impacts of, Middlings Coal, the Government’s Net Zero target (4) 

The Secretary of State had also been asked by Tim Farron MP and KCCH and others to call in the decision for his consideration.

October 31st Cumbria County Council’s Development Control and Regulation Committee reconsidered their resolution and once again resolved unanimously to grant consent.  At that meeting I took a video (5) . A key paragraph, tellingly not included in the official minutes, exposes the huge assumptions the Council is making about so the called “substitution” economic/green house gas argument supposedly in favour of the coal mine without the evidence to back it up

“…our view is that it wasn’t necessary to [take GHG into account] and that is because we rely on basically supply and demand laws of economics to do so; our argument all along has been that this proposal would substitute for the current GHGs which emanate from existing setups that we have; we import…lots of coal from Europe, sorry from America and elsewhere at great cost – this coking coal which West Cumbria might generate would arguably be much more competitive because it is closer to the actual steel producers than the American coal or the Australian coal; and because of that – being more competitive – it is likely that the steel-makers themselves would turn to West Cumbria Mining to place orders, at the expense of those coking plants in America, and as a result, we felt there had been a carbon neutral balance because those plants in America were likely to reduce their supply of coal, and as a result of that would produce less CO2 emissions and eventually what you’d end up is a balancing act between what is happening in West Cumbria in UK and what is happening in America in terms of CO2 emissions. There also – there might be – some advantages as well because you don’t have the transport costs involved in taking coking coal 7,000 km across the Atlantic ocean to get here; so that was the premise of our argument and remains the premise of our argument; and we believe that we did take into account fairly the issue to do with GHG…”

It is also extremely baffling to me that, in response to the submissions I and others made at the meeting, including outlining the Government’s commitment to decarbonisation of the steel industry, Committee members continued to push certain myths about the positive climate change impact of the coal mine. The official minutes of the meeting record that: 

“Members understood the strength of feeling amongst the objectors to the application, but felt that to move forward with climate change steel would be needed to produce wind farms, trains and bus infrastructure, all of which were part of the plans for a greener future. There was no other way of producing these at present.”

November 2019 – the Secretary of State resolved not to call in the decision  (In the same month the CEO of West Cumbria Mining was appointed to the government Committee on Radioactive Waste Management – tasked with delivery of a Geological Disposal Facility)

The application by Marianne Bennett V Cumbria County Council for Judicial Review was filed on 12th December 2019.  The Grounds included failure to consider Green House Gas emissions, 15% extraction and ‘need’ for Middlings coal and failure to have regard to the introduction of the net zero target by 2050 into the Climate Change Act 2008 on 27thJune 2019.

7th May 2020  – The High Court made an order listing the hearing for the 18th May 2020. Coincidentally, on the same date, West Cumbria Mining submitted the amendments to its planning application to Cumbria County Council.   West Cumbria Mining proposed that they would amend their planning application to exclude Middlings Coal – ie the Middlings Coal would undergo a new process on site to render it into Coking Coal.  In order to do this the overall quality of the coking coal would be reduced to include a much greater ash and sulphur content .  

13th May 2020– Marianne Bennett withdraws the now superceded Judicial Review challenge against the original planning application.  

Battle Over Costs and why we request withdrawal from Rule 6 Status

West Cumbria Mining (the Interested Party in our  2019/20 Legal Challenge to Cumbria County Council) applied to the High Court for their costs of over £26,000 to be paid for by myself, Marianne Bennett.  The Judge – Mr Justice Dove ruled that “In short, there is in my view no substance to the Interested Party’s application for costs against the Claimant and it is dismissed.”(6). Copy of Final Judgement attached.

CLIMATE IS NOT THE ONLY ISSUE:

  • WATER IMPACTS
  • NUCLEAR IMPACTS
  • COAL AUTHORITY LICENCES/PREDETERMINATION


WATER IMPACTS

We note that the Environment Agency and United Utilities initially expressed concerns regarding the impact of on water.  These concerns have been “satisfied” but there is no evidence to suggest how.  The concerns consist of two main strands. 

  1. ANHYDRITE MINE.  The first concern involved West Cumbria Mining’s use of the anhydrite mine (this mine fed the old Marchon plant, the biggest single site producer of sulphuric acid in Europe leaving a toxic legacy in the old mine workings).  WCM no longer propose to dewater the anhydrite mine, due to objections by the EA and others regarding the dewatering of the contaminated flood water to the Irish Sea (8).  The proposal remains to use part of the existing drift tunnels to access the coal measures, those which are not flooded, and to then dig new drifts to access the remaining deposits.  The drift access tunnels have been redesigned to pass OVER rather than through the flooded Anhydrite mine. We have searched for previous examples of drift tunnels being excavated in the geology above existing mines full of contaminated water - but have failed to do so.  We propose that Cumbria County Council (and the regulators) have blindly accepted a “solution” which appears to us as being just as risky as direct dewatering of the Anhydrite mine into the sea.  We assume the drift tunnels are at risk of “expected subsidence” in the same way as the mine itself is and that the act of excavation will impact on the geology above the flooded anhydrite mine?  This has not been questioned by Cumbria County Council.
  2. IMPACTS ON GROUNDWATER AND POTABLE WATER SUPPLY TO WEST CUMBRIA.    

Image: Egremont boreholes in red. The Marchon plant at Whitehaven is out of the photo top left. Sellafield is the concrete mass at bottom right

The potential for Contamination of the Egremont boreholes used by UU as a potable drinking water  source for parts of West Cumbria has been identified.  In ‘answering’ the Environment Agency and United Utiliity concerns about impacts on West Cumbria’s ground water, ESI consulting have advised WCM that “..United Utilities who have noted that their groundwater abstractions at Egremont are understood to draw water via the local faults. Their concern being the potential for hydraulic connection between the boreholes and the Byerstead Fault and potential to draw contaminated groundwater from the Marchon site. (9). 

Image: Whitehaven news April 14th 2021

The reply goes on to say that:  “We have appended annotated versions of some of the key cross-sections from previous URS reports (which the EA have copies of) which show the conceptual model at the Marchon site in more detail (as requested by the EA). The key thing to note is that infiltrating water at the site is thought to move toward the Byerstead Fault via solution features (possibly enhanced by former acid spills at the site as referred to in the EA letter) in the dolomitised lower sections of the St Bees Evaporite (as shown on URS Figure 8) or by direct infiltration to the Fault where it crops out beneath the site.”   This does not satisfactorily answer the EA and UU concerns, despite this the County Council have gone along with the explanation that the potential for contamination of groundwater which supplies much of West Cumbria is acceptable.  

Incredibly for an area famed for its lakes and fresh water, West Cumbria’s water supply is already stressed and subject to complaint as an ongoing campaign can testify : West Cumbria Water Supply (Save our Water Services) (10).   We note that the Sellafield site is far nearer to the Egremont boreholes than the Marchon plant and have asked for example the British Geological Society if there has been any geological survey on the 

hydrological impacts on groundwater from such a big and long  lived mine situated between the old chemical works of Marchon and the Sellafield site with its ongoing leaks of radioactive and chemical wastes to groundwater (11).   The BGS replied that they have not surveyed this issue.

BYERSTEAD FAULT How Much Water? - What Impacts Could This Have 

eg on Induced Siesmicity?

A related concern brushed aside by Cumbria County Council is exactly how much water the developers intend to draw from the onshore Byerstead Fault. The developers say that on the one hand the amount would be “negligible’ and on the other that they intend to solely use water from the dewatering process and ‘rainwater’ for all processes on site.  Given that it would take (at the least) five tonnes of water to wash and process 1 tonne of coal the amount of water necessary would be very significant. The Officers’ Report for 2 October 2020 claims that issues raised by Keep Coal in the Hole regarding the Byerstead Fault were dealt with in the Report for 19 March 2019 (12), but the discussion at paras.6.325-6.329 only related to the avoidance of water ingress into the mine, and not the potential activation of fault lines. There is no consideration of any seismic effects which might be induced by dewatering. The Officers’ Report for 2 October 2020 also relies on the fact that the effects of mining under the seabed can be scrutinised in greater detail by the Marine Management Organisation during the licence process, but this is not an answer to potential risk that seismic effects will occur as a result of onshore water abstraction from the Byerstead Fault.

The council officers report for the Development Control and Regulation Committee meeting of 2nd October stated (7.205) that “Issues in respect of the Byerstead Fault were addressed in my original Committee Report.”  This is not the case.  The issue is that WCM say they will be using the Byerstead Fault as a primary fresh water source but refuse to reveal how much.   The Officers report at 7.122 states “ The coal processing plant would recycle an anticipated 98% of surface water from the site”. This is meaningless in the context of HOW MUCH WATER would be abstracted by WCM from the Byerstead Fault due to ingress from newly mined voids at peak production.  In the Applicant’s words “once Woodhouse Colliery is operational there will be a requirement to continuously pump water out of the mine in order to avoid any accumulation of water underground which could result in flooding of the mine workings ... and as a result WCM does not envisage the requirement for an abstraction licence for water”.  Conflictingly, West Cumbria Mining also indicate that they will use a “grouting ahead” technique to avoid water ingress into the mine (see e.g. ES Ch.5 para.5.5.13 and the Officers’ Report for 19 March 2019 at paras.6.325 and 6.328), and that anecdotal historical evidence suggests that there will be very little flow of groundwater into the mine due to the tight matrix of St Bees Sandstone (see ES Ch.12 sec.12.5.5).  The Officers’ Report for 19 March 2019 notes at para.6.329 that “the removal of water from the mine would require an abstraction licence”. There is no indication in ES Ch.5 of how water will be obtained if the mines experience lower levels of water ingress than needed for onsite processes.  Sellafield has expressed support for West Cumbria Mining but we doubt that largesse would extend to offering up Sellafield’s dedicated water supplies from Wastwater, the Rivers Ehen and Calder and boreholes in the area (13).

 A reply from the British Geological Survey states “In answer to your questions, BGS has given no advice to West Cumbria Mining as to the water abstraction rates likely to be available from the Byerstead Fault.  We also hold no groundwater monitoring or surveys undertaken for West Cumbria Mining”   Given the importance of the West Cumbria Aquifer to West Cumbria’s freshwater supply from boreholes at Egremont and the impacts on geology, this failure by the regulators and the Council to address the impact of fresh water abstraction from a named and important geological fault could be seen as reckless .  We note that Cumbria County Council’s Minerals and Waste Local Plan 2015-2030 POLICY DC20 for the water environment states “Proposals for developments should demonstrate that they would have no unacceptable quantitative or qualitative adverse effects on the water environment, both within the application site and its surroundings, including surface waters, coastal waters, private water supplies and groundwater resources.”   Clearly West Cumbria Mining’s plan cannot demonstrate there are no adverse impacts on groundwater.

NUCLEAR IMPACTS

Radiation Free Lakeland were first alerted to this coal mine because of its close proximity to Sellafield and Drigg.  Alongside the close proximity to the world’s riskiest nuclear waste site, we are also painfully aware of the legacy of Sellafield’s continuing discharges to the Irish Sea and have carried out our own citizen science recording of the manmade radioactive wastes washing up onto our beaches from Sellafield (14).   

Image: New Scientist 2015

Shocking State of the World’s Riskiest Nuclear Waste Site by Fred Pearce


The coal mine would lie directly beneath a named nuclear waste dump known as the Sellafield/Cumbrian Mud Patch on the Irish Sea bed. This is where the majority of nuclear discharge has ended up rather than being “dispersed and diluted” as Sellafield intended when sending the wastes down a pipeline into the Irish Sea.  We have commissioned Tim Deere-Jones to write a report (15) directly relevant to the coal mine plan and we believe the report will be submitted to you separately by the author: A briefing paper by Tim Deere-Jones. WEST CUMBRIA MINING: WOODHOUSE COLLIERY PROPOSAL RADIOLOGICAL IMPLICATIONS of POTENTIAL SEABED SUBSIDENCE SEISMICITY & “FAULT RE-ACTIVATION” beneath The CUMBRIAN MUD PATCH: INDUCED BY “MASS REMOVAL”, RAPID EXTRACTION & VOID SPACE CREATION.

COAL AUTHORITY LICENCES / PREDETERMINATION

Two applications for licence variation ( time extension beyond the normal eight years) have been received by the Coal Authority from West Cumbria Mining. A decision is pending.  The original licences were given over the heads of the public and county councillors as “permitted development” in 2013/14 despite the CEO of West Cumbria Mining’s previous venture Itmsoil having just gone into administration to avoid paying creditors (16).  We have asked for sight of the new licence variations but have been told they are being witheld from public view.   We are puzzled as to how the public can properly take part in a public inquiry into a business venture which has applied for secretive licences which the public are being denied sight of.  What we can see is that one of the two licences is for the Whitehaven Offshore Area 2 which includes an area of zero coal resource (according to the British Geological Survey) but which is adjacent to the area in the frame for a deep Geological Disposal Facility on which the CEO of West Cumbria Mining has been appointed to advise Government (17).  As cronyism goes that is a belter.  Nuclear Free Local Authorities have also expressed concern over this cosy and concerning relationship (18).  

CONCLUSION

Radiation Free Lakeland strongly urge the Planning Inspector to consider issues which he may initially have felt were outside the scope of this Inquiry but which have been central to our concerns from the outset (19).  Issues including nuclear safety and drinking water quality.  Issues which may in the final analysis be of even more overwhelming concern than climate impacts.   Nuclear impacts would be catastrophic for the immediate and long term future and viability of not only Cumbria’s health and safety but the health and safety of our neighbouring countries.  Our final thought is to leave the image of our first thought upon seeing West Cumbria Mining’s vision of the coal mine.  It looks uncannily similar to the view of the Chernobyl sarcophagus and for those living in the shadow of Sellafield looks like the threat of a nuclear sacrifice zone  more than a promise of a “green mine.”   

We urge the Planning Inspector to overturn Cumbria County Council’s approval for this uniquely dangerous coal mine.

Images: West Cumbria Mining / Chernobyl Sarcophagus  

Yours sincerely,

 Marianne Bennett (aka artist Marianne Birkby)


On behalf of Radiation Free Lakeland,

References:

(1) GDF plan halted 2013 https://mariannewildart.wordpress.com/2013/02/06/eddie-martins-speech-to-cabinet-on-30th-january/

(2). Keekle Head  https://www.whitehavennews.co.uk/news/17139603.protesters-argue-against-the-burial-of-low-level-n-waste/

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/265786/Keekle_Head_Open_Cast__Workington__Cumbria__ref_2187327__12_December_2013_.pdf

(3) Legal Challenge https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/cumbriancoal2/

(4) Leigh Day Judicial Review granted permission https://www.leighday.co.uk/latest-updates/news/2020-news/cumbrian-campaign-group-granted-permission-for-judicial-review-of-county-councils-approval-of-coal-mine/#:~:text=Campaign%20group%2C%20Keep%20Cumbrian%20Coal,the%20UK%20to%20be%20built.&text=On%2020%20June%202019%2C%20Leigh%20Day%20wrote%20to%20Cumbria%20County%20Council.

(5) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v6s1oorVSwQ&t=1s

(6) Copy attached  of Final Judgement between Marianne Bennett and Cumbria County Council and West Cumbria Mining

(7) “Despite the applicant declaring on the company website that the raw material has very low ash and moderate sulphur levels, the key coking characteristics reflected in the current set of conditions are already and generously set high, at 8% for ash and 1.25% for sulphur.  The applicant now requests to relax this to 9% and 2% respectively but is not offering a credible reason why this is necessary”.  https://keepcumbriancoalinthehole.wordpress.com/2020/06/15/another-excellent-letter-of-objection-to-the-coal-mine-plan-write-today/

(8) Anhydrite mine  https://copeland.moderngov.co.uk/documents/s7511/West%20Cumbria%20Mining%204-17-9007-0F2.pdf

(9) Potential for Contamination of Egremont boreholes used by UU as potable drinking water source for parts of West Cumbria (Appendix 12-9 Response to EA Comments by ESI Consulting - attached)

(10) “This group is dedicated to improving the water quality in West Cumbria and has been created as a result of the recent introduction of borehole water into our supply which many feel is unsatisfactory to say the least”. .https://www.facebook.com/groups/253953375095270/

(11) Groundwater monitoring at Sellafield https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/705993/Groundwater_Monitoring_at_Sellafield_-_Annual_Data_Review_2016.pdf

“workers repairing the leak were asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement, preventing them from discussing the details of the work, however Sellafield has denied this. The spokesman said: "We have been open and transparent about this incident. We have kept our regulators and stakeholders informed throughout and published details on our website on 18 November.” Last month there was another leak in the older part of the site and work is due to take place in the new year. Sellafield said: "The current suspected leak is in an inaccessible part of the building, which is underground. 

https://www.in-cumbria.com/news/18052483.radioactive-fluid-leaking-sellafield-silo/

(12) Byerstead Fault questions asked of the EA and BGS https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/west_cumbria_mining_abstraction_2

(13) Troubled Waters  https://mariannewildart.wordpress.com/2017/09/29/request-for-a-question-in-parliament-on-cumbrias-troubled-waters/amp/

https://cumbria.gov.uk/elibrary/Content/Internet/6640/17802/44272155144.pdf

(14) Citizen Science - Radioactive Beaches https://electricityinfo.org/news/sellafield-103/

(15) A briefing paper by Tim Deere-Jones. WEST CUMBRIA MINING: WOODHOUSE COLLIERY PROPOSAL RADIOLOGICAL IMPLICATIONS of POTENTIAL SEABED SUBSIDENCE SEISMICITY & “FAULT RE-ACTIVATION” beneath The CUMBRIAN MUD PATCH: INDUCED BY “MASS REMOVAL”, RAPID EXTRACTION & VOID SPACE CREATION.  https://issuu.com/wildart/docs/west_cumbria_mining_-_radiological_implications_of

(16)  Cronyism https://www.lakesagainstnucleardump.com/post/hot-nuclear-waste-and-duff-high-ash-high-sulphur-coal-for-steel-top-trump-cronies

(17)  Coal Authority https://keepcumbriancoalinthehole.wordpress.com/2021/01/29/developers-ask-coal-authority-for-license-to-drill-tell-kwasi-kwarteng-to-veto-the-diabolic-plan-or-at-least-call-for-a-public-consultation/

(18)   CUMBRIA, NUCLEAR WASTE, A GEOLOGICAL ‘DISPOSAL’ FACILITY (GDF) AND THE PROPOSED COAL MINE PETE ROCHE NUCLEAR FREE LOCAL AUTHORITIES ENGLISH FORUM 5TH MARCH 2021 https://www.nuclearpolicy.info/wp/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Cumbria_Coal_GDF_PR.pdf

(19) enclosed The Pit and the Polar bear - comic book.


Update 23

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole

April 20, 2021

We Will Not Be Fobbed Off By The Dept of Business and Kwasi Kwarteng MP


Dear Friends,

We have had a letter back from the Business and Energy Secretary of State's office - the letter is a fob off and and we have replied back. 

We are asking for two things.  Firstly for the Secretary of State for BEIS Kwasi Kwarteng MP to acknowledge that he has the authority to block new licences for the Cumbrian coal mine and to use that authority to stop the Coal Authority licences and this coal mine dead in its tracks. This would save the public the huge expense of a Public Inquiry.   If the Secretary of State for BEIS / the Coal Authority are minded to approve the licences for what now amounts to an amended development then what on earth is the point of the public inquiry founded on the previous licences?

Secondly, to let the public actually have sight of the developer’s new licence applications. If the licences are exactly the same as previously then why cannot we have sight of them?

The Public Inquiry is asking the public to comment on a development which has changed the goal posts. The public has no idea what the developers have now applied for within their new licence applications (we do know they want to drill 1000 m deeper than the deepest coal seam).

Here is some correspondence below for those who would like more detail -  with many thanks to local expertise! 

Please do keep on signing and sharing our new petition to BLOCK THE COAL LICENCES and save the expense of a public inquiry. https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/block-new-coal-licences-for-cumbria

With all best wishes

Marianne


Our Reply to BEIS  A response to your recent enquiry – Ref: TOSL2021/10724


20th April 21 by email

BEIScorrespondence@beis.gov.uk

Dear Ms Huish,

Thank you for your letter dated 19 April 2021 sent on behalf of the Secretary of State in response to our email to him dated 29 March 2021. The apology for the delay in responding is unnecessary as it hopefully reflects the serious nature of the subject matter and the consideration that was given to it. That said, the response is quite unhelpful as the content simply duplicates the standard wording of correspondence from the Coal Authority on the same subject. You may be aware in this regard that the Coal Authority has refused to supply us with a copy of the West Cumbria Mining (WCM) variation request on the grounds, firstly, that it prejudices the company’s commercial interests and, secondly, because the CEO of the company has refused his permission for them to respond positively. Your response also misrepresents somewhat the situation with regard to the powers of the Secretary of State and the relevance of the planning application with regard to coal industry license applications. The essence of the WCM application is that they are seeking a second extension to two of their three licenses. These have already exceeded the normal maximum of eight years without any consideration of introducing competition, as required by law. It has little or nothing to do with planning permission or the division of responsibility between government departments.

In light of the above, we would like to draw to your attention the relevant clauses in the principal legislation that empowers the Secretary of State and restricts the Coal Authority in matters such as these. The first is Article 6 of the Coal Industry Act 1994. This is written in such a broad way as to give the Secretary of State the power, if he is so minded, to call in all available information from the Coal Authority, form his own opinion and then direct the Coal Authority to decide accordingly. This is to all intents and purposes the power to call in. The second is Article 5 of the same Act which, inter alia, states that the Coal Authority does not have power to take any steps for the benefit of another for obtaining planning permission. In this regard the delaying steps being taken by the Coal Authority are consistent with the tenor of your letter but not with Clause 5 of the relevant legislation. We would therefore hope the Secretary of State recognises this and chooses to exercise his power to intervene in order to protect the Coal Authority from erring further. Naturally, in light of his widely publicised statements on this project, on coal in general and his response to the recent parliamentary debate on the future of coal, we hope he will refuse to extend the licenses. In summary, the WCM planning application is not a material factor in determining both of the license variation requests and particularly the inshore area license.


The Secretary of State may find it helpful to be reminded that the citizen opposition to this highly speculative financial project, with its Australian origins and controllers, is made up of at least three strands. The most public strand is, of course, that articulated by those concerned about worldwide climate change and the mixed messages currently being projected by the UK government. Secondly, I speak for many who have concerns at the grave risk to nuclear safety around the licensed nuclear sites at Sellafied and Drigg that the mine and its influential CEO are introducing. The third strand relates to the topical issue of cronyism and financial suspicions that come from the ten year relationship between the CEO and the former Energy Minister Charles Hendry (who in office was keen to “accelerate” Geological Disposal of nuclear wastes), the contracted involvement of New Century Media Ltd and the obscure funding chain routed via funds in Singapore and the Cayman Islands. When these strands come together they really do make a compelling case for refusing these licence variations without waiting for the Planning Inspectorate to act on behalf of another Secretary of State.

In conclusion, we request that you review the above and provide us with a more thoughtful response to our initial email but, if you disagree with our understanding of the legal position, would you kindly explain why that is?

Kind regards

Marianne Birkby on behalf of Radiation Free Lakeland / Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole




Update 22

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole

April 13, 2021

COAL AUTHORITY REFUSE RIGHT TO SEE LICENCE TO DRILL UNDER IRISH SEA

Dear Friends,

Thank you for all your support in Helping to Stop the Cumbrian Coal Mine!

Latest news is that nuclear safety group Radiation Free Lakeland (running the Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole campaign since 2017) have asked for and been refused sight of the new licence applications from West Cumbria Mining to the Coal Authority.  The controversial Irish Sea coal mine developers had originally been granted conditional exploration licences eight years ago over the heads of Cumbria County Council and the public, with no public scrutiny at all.  These have now lapsed and the developers have applied for new licences.

Radiation Free Lakeland have asked for sight of the licence applications from West Cumbria Mining.  The Coal Authority have refused sight of the licence applications based on two clauses in the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (Section 43(2) Commercial Interests and Section 44(1)(a) Prohibition by Enactment).   

Campaigners say that there is no justification offered by the Coal Authority for the protection of the developers at the expense of public scrutiny into the new licence applications. 

"Your refusal does not begin to explain why the nature and extent of the requested variation needs to be protected in order not to prejudice WCM’s commercial interests.   You simply assert that it does".   Radiation Free Lakeland

The nuclear safety campaigners state that information regarding the applications could have been released for public scrutiny in redacted form to protect "commercial interests." However the campaigners go on to say that there are actually no other "commercial interests" interested in mining the high sulphur and high ash content coking coal as proposed by West Cumbria Mining.

The campaign group have asked the Coal Authority for an internal review into the refusal for sight of the developers' new licence applications and have also asked that their original request should be dealt with under the Environmental Impact Regulations 2004 noting that where any information relates to an emission to the environment no commercial confidentiality can be claimed.  

The Coal Authority are denying any public scrutiny at all of what the developers have planned for Cumbria.  What can be seen raises alarm bells for example the plan to mine 1000m deeper than the deepest coal seams in the area nearest to Sellafield where there is, according to the British Geological Society, no known coal resource.

A new petition has just been launched asking that instead of protecting the developer's "commercial interests" the Coal Authority should Block West Cumbria Mining's Licence to Drill.   This decisive action to Block the Licences would put an end to a development that should have been blocked from the outset on the grounds of both climate and nuclear safety.

PETITION - BLOCK NEW COAL LICENCES FOR CUMBRIA https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/block-new-coal-licences-for-cumbria

Update 21

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole

March 30, 2021

No Need for Expensive Public Inquiry Just Block the Licence to Drill

St Bees, where the coal mine would extend to.  Sellafield is five miles away, clearly visible.

Dear Friends,

A public inquiry into the Coal Mine has been scheduled for September.  The enormous expense of a public inquiry could be spared if the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Kwasi Kwarteng MP put his 'coal mine should be blocked' words into action and put the kaibosh on renewal of the developer's licence to drill.   The letter asking for an immediate block on the licence to drill has been signed by organisations as diverse as the  Ethical Consumer Research Association, CND and the Sea Horse Trust.  Leading academics have also signed along with Whitehaven locals.  Asking the public to pay for an expensive inquiry into a coal mine that is guaranteed to flout climate and nuclear safety and would end up being a stranded asset at a time of austerity is bonkers - the mine could be stopped today.

Here is the letter sent on Friday...

29.3.21

To the Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng Secretary of State for BEIS

BLOCK THE CUMBRIA COAL MINE’S LICENCE TO DRILL


I am writing to you again on behalf of nuclear safety group Radiation Free Lakeland.  We were the first to call out the proposed coal mine development in Cumbria and remain unequivocally opposed to the plan on both climate and nuclear safety grounds so we were delighted to hear your statement that there are “very compelling reasons” to block the mine.

BEIS ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE COAL AUTHORITY

The position of Secretary of State grants the wherewithal to put these words into action and to actually block the coal mine by ordering the Coal Authority (who report to BEIS) not to renew or extend existing conditional licenses or grant new unconditional licences to the developers West Cumbria Mining whose licence to drill has now lapsed.

BLOCK THE COAL MINE, SAVE THE PUBLIC PURSE EXPENSIVE PUBLIC INQUIRY

This would save the public purse the huge expense of a public inquiry and send a strong message to the UK and our international neighbours that BEIS is committed to both climate and nuclear safety.  

THIS IS NOT “ANYWHERE” IT WOULD BE FIVE MILES FROM SELLAFIELD

While the significant climate impacts of this coal mine would be exactly the same anywhere else in the UK, this coal mine is not just anywhere in the UK. The mine would be largely subsea off the West Coast of Cumbria, would extend to within five miles of the world’s riskiest nuclear waste site and be directly under a massive nuclear waste dump known as the Sellafield Mud Patch.  Sellafield has been pumping eight million litres of  “low level” radioactive discharges into the Irish Sea every day. It been doing that for decades and nuclear wastes still continue to arrive in West Cumbria.  The nuclear waste discharge pipeline out to the Irish Sea is in constant use.  The coal mine developers say there would be “expected subsidence” of the Irish Sea bed.   Recent reports (attached) have indicated this would most likely result in the resuspension of decades worth of Sellafield’s radioactive wastes now largely immobilised in the Irish Sea bed.  Radioactive wastes including plutonium would be resuspended back into the water column, to ours and to neighbouring shores.  The one thing not to do with a radioactive waste dump is disturb it.

EIGHT YEARS SINCE THE COAL AUTHORITY/BEIS RUBBERSTAMPED ORIGINAL CONDITIONAL LICENCE TO DRILL EXPLORATORY BOREHOLES.  NEW EVIDENCE

The world has changed since the Coal Authority issued West Cumbria Mining with conditional licences 8 years ago.  Eight years ago there was no public scrutiny as the Coal Authority was permitted to issue licences above the heads of the public and Cumbrian councillors.   Eight years on and many miles of subsea ‘exploratory’ mining boreholes and core samples later, questions of climate and nuclear safety are being asked about this coal mine.  Despite the controversy the Coal Authority have replied directly to us saying that there would be no public consultation into issuing West Cumbria Mining with new licences to drill, this is outrageous.    

APPOINTMENT OF COAL BOSS TO GOVERNMENT ADVISOR ON NUCLEAR DUMP

As well as being under decades of Sellafield’s discharged nuclear wastes the mine itself would be adjacent to the area being promoted as a possible Geological Disposal Facility for heat generating nuclear wastes under the Irish Sea.  BEIS’s wide ranging responsibilities include the provision of and management of the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM). The CEO of the coal mine Mark Kirkbride has been appointed by BEIS to CoRWM (Nov 2019) to advise government on ‘Delivery”  of a Geological Disposal Facility (GDF).  The proposed coal mine  would make a void of 136 Million square metres.  What destabilising impact would this have on the laterally neighbouring rocks Radioactive Waste Management (advised by CoRWM) tell us are “Possible” for a GDF 

PUBLIC INQUIRY WOULD LIKELY BE LIMITED IN SCOPE - THERE ARE QUESTIONS SUCH AS COAL AUTHORITY/BEIS INVOLVEMENT IN HANDING OVER OF HAIG COLLIERY FOR £1 TO COAL MINE DEVELOPERS

These questions (and more) should, but are not likely to be within the remit of a forthcoming public inquiry focussing on planning rather than issues of governance and nuclear safety.  The public have already paid out £millions for this coal mine, to be precise,  £2.5 Million in Heritage Lottery Funds for the Haig Colliery Museum which was then handed over to the developers for £1 (courtesy of the Coal Authority handing the developers a pre-emption right).   

As Secretary of State responsible for the Coal Authority you could ensure that the public do not have to foot the bill yet again, this time for a public inquiry into a coal mine that should have been scrapped yesterday. Tomorrow would be a good day to order the Coal Authority not to issue West Cumbria Mining with licence to drill.  By taking this action the coal mine would be blocked and the expense of a public inquiry prevented.  

LEADING CUMBRIAN COUNCILLORS HAD ALREADY CHANGED THEIR MINDS AND VOTED NO.  A NEW APPRAISAL BY COUNCIL IS NOW SUPERCEDED BY PUBLIC INQUIRY

Leading Cumbrian Councillors had already reassessed their former support for the mine and voted “no.”  Through this No vote they have voiced their opposition alongside leading academics, scientists,  politicians, the public and many organisations.   We urge you to honour the wishes of leading Cumbrian councillors and the millions of people represented by this letter and block this coal mine. The reasons for doing so are not just “compelling" they are overwhelming.  

The mine could be stopped tomorrow and the buck stops with BEIS.

Yours sincerely,

Marianne Birkby, founder of Radiation Free Lakeland
Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole - a RaFL campaign
Brian Jones, Vice Chair, CND Cymru
Jo Smoldon on Behalf of Stop Hinkley
Jonathon Porritt,
Rebecca Heaton Cooper, The Heaton cooper studio, Grasmere
Terry Bennett, Emeritus Professor, Nottingham University
Kate Hudson, General Secretary, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
Anita Stirzaker, Bowness business owner
Alison Denwood, George and Dragon Public House, Harrington, West Cumbria
Harry Doloughan, Whitehaven
Simon Burdis, Northern England, family carer
Philip Gilligan, South Lakeland and Lancaster District CND
Dave Webb, Chair, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
David Smythe, Emeritus Professor of Geophysics, University of Glasgow
Dr Paul Dorfman, UCL Energy Institute
Dr Rachel Western
Postcards from Cumbria - artists collectiveDavid and Una Hatton, Wigton, Cumbria,
Sarah J Darby BSc DPhil Associate Professor, Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford
Samagita Moisha, Lancaster. Concerns for nuclear safety presented to Cumbria CC at both committee hearings
Tim Deere-Jones, Marine Research & Consultancy
Joan West, Cumbria and Lancashire Area CND
Martin Kendall, Resident High Walton, Near Whitehaven
Oliver Tickell, journalist and campaigner
Irene Sanderson, North Cumbria Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
Walter Bennett, I am 90 years of age, born in Frizington, Cumberland, son of a coal miner, (former Director responsible for Technology in an International Company)
Dr Carl Iwan Clowes OBE, Fellow Royal College of Physicians Faculty of Public Health, Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of General Practitioners
Mag Richards, WANA, the Welsh Anti-Nuclear Alliance
Ian Ralls, Anti-Nuclear Campaigner
Neil Wilson, Life Long Conservationist, Hodbarrow Mine Action to the Royal Courts of Justice
London Greenpeace, Core Participant within Undercover Policing Public Inquiry (Spycops)
Richard Bramhall, Low Level Radiation Campaign
David Penney, Coordinator, Cumbria and Lancashire Area CND
Martyn Lowe, Close Capenhurst Campaign
Andrew Warren, former special advisor to the House of Commons environment select committee.
Neil Garrick-Maidment FBNA, Executive Director and Founder, The Seahorse Trust
Christine Gibson, Keep it Green, Northern Ireland

Mark Jennings, West Cumbria Water (Save our water services}
David Dane, Veteran Campaigner

Rob Harrison, Ethical Consumer Research Association.


References 

BEIS Ministerial Responsibility for the Coal Authority

"Ministerial responsibility 11. The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is accountable to Parliament for the activities and performance of the Authority and it is proposed that any new Minister with responsibility for the Authority will carry out a visit to the Authority within six months of taking up appointment to learn about the role of the Authority and its functions. Typically, we would expect the chair and chief executive to meet with the minister at least annually. 12. Specific responsibilities include:  approving the Authority’s overall strategic objectives and the policy and performance frameworkwithin which the Authority operates (as set out in this framework document and associated documents  keeping Parliament informed about the Authority’s performance  approving the amount of grant-in-aid/grant/other funds to be paid to the Authority, and securing Parliamentary approval  carrying out responsibilities specified in the Act including appointments to the board, determining the terms and conditions of board members, consenting to the appointment of the, approval of terms and conditions of staff (Including pay) in accordance with the latest pay guidance  laying of the annual report and accounts before Parliament”

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/844421/Coal_Authority_and_BEIS_framework_agreement_2019.pdf

Sellafield Radioactive Discharge on the Irish Sea Bed directly beneath the coal mine plan and question of 'Who is Responsible for Safety of the Discharged Nuclear Wastes?'  is subject to complaint being dealt with by the Information Commissioner
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/responsibility_for_discharged_ra

Coal Authority Licences https://keepcumbriancoalinthehole.wordpress.com/2021/01/18/do-not-rubber-stamp-new-coal-authority-licenses-for-cumbria/

6th Climate Budget   https://www.theccc.org.uk/publication/sixth-carbon-budget/     note the Climate Change Committee is appointed by BEIS 

British Geological Society Lack of Testing in West Cumbria https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/west_cumbria_mining_abstraction#incoming-1625582

British Geological Society Lack of Testing in Bangladesh https://www.iwapublishing.com/news/arsenic-contamination-groundwater-bangladesh-environmental-and-social-disaster

Who is Responsible for Radioactive Waste on the Irish Sea Bed – Call from Nuclear Free Local Authorities NFLA troubled by the UK Communities Minister not ‘calling in’ the decision over a deep underground coal mine in West Cumbria

Haig Colliery and Mining Museum

Return of final meeting in a creditors’ voluntary winding up https://find-and-update.company-information.service.gov.uk/company/04914614/filing-history

West Cumbria Mining’s documents detailing how assets worth £millions bought for £1would be protected from creditors

24 Nov 2020

Registration of charge 071433980002, the document can be found here  https://find-and-update.company-information.service.gov.uk/company/07143398/filing-history


The steel industry will soon have little use for Cumbrian coal

https://www.businessgreen.com/opinion/4027666/steel-industry-soon-little-cumbrian-coal

Letter from the Coal Authority (who are a BEIS authority)  to Radiation Free Lakeland

."This site currently has 3 conditional licences which have been in place since 2013/14. A conditional licence allows coal exploration and would need to be replaced by a full licence in order for coaling to begin. On 18th January 2021 date West Cumbria Mining Ltd applied to extend the end dates of 2 of these conditional licences (UND/0184 & UND/0177). They were due to expire on 24th January 2021 but they will remain in place until the application to extend them has been determined. No exploratory works will be undertaken during this time. The application will take approximately 3 months to determine. If the conditional licences were extended the operator would still need to apply for one or more full coaling licences before coaling can begin. When the conditional licence extension application has been determined the outcome will be posted on our website: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coal-mining-licenceapplications.

note: the Coal Authority later confirmed there would be no public consultation or scrutiny over the issuing of new licences to drill for West Cumbria Mining.







Update 20

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole

March 24, 2021

Isle of Man Newspapers First to Report on Coal Boss Appointment to Government

Dear Friends,

Thanks to you all the coal is still in the hole and long may it continue to be so!

Reporter Adrian Darbyshire of the Isle of Man Newspapers will be receiving an original cartoon (Punch 'n Judy Coal - Shhh Don't Mention Nuclear)  in honour of being the first national press reporter (even though it isn’t our own national press) to expose the UK Government’s complicity in the coal mine plan and thoughts on what that complicity means for Cumbria and our neighbours.

Below are a couple of extracts from the March 22nd 2021 Isle of Man Today

“Isle of Man Newspapers reported in January that an undersea nuclear disposal facility could be built within eight miles of Manx territorial waters. The UK’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) has relaunched its search for the site of a geological disposal facility. One option that is being considered is to build it under the Irish Sea up to 22km out from Sellafield. This would bring it within six to eight miles of the island’s own 22km (12 nautical mile) territorial limit. West Cumbria Mining’s chief executive Mark Kirkbride has been appointed to the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management, the body charged with advising the UK government on the long-term management of high-level radioactive waste. fThis week Mr Kirkbride gave a Zoom presentation on the development of a deep geological disposal facility for nuclear waste in the UK, a talk hosted by the Science Discovery Group.”

FULL ARTICLE HERE

Update 19

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole

March 12, 2021

Hurrah - Public Inquiry Called!!


Great news that Robert Jenrick the Communities Secretary of State has called in the coal mine plan for a public inquiry. This must be a no holds barred inquiry which includes nuclear impacts and vested nuclear interests of government rather than the limited Punch and Judy show we have witnessed so far. We will be lobbying government to ensure nuclear impacts are given at least equal status to climate impacts within the scope of the inquiry. Terms of Reference for this public inquiry MUST include Nuclear.   Without ALL your help this coal mine would be underway right now!  Thank you.

This is the press release from our lawyers Leigh Day

“Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick wrote to Cumbria County Council to say he has decided to “call in” the application, saying it raised issues of “more than local importance”.

A public inquiry would explore the arguments put forward by both supporters and opponents of the proposal by West Cumbria Mining.

The move has been welcomed by campaign group, Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole (KCCH) who brought a judicial review into the application two years ago.

Following the judicial review, campaigner Marianne Bennett claimed vindication after West Cumbrian Mining submitted a revised planning application.

Instead of 15 per cent of the mined produce being a type of non-metallurgical coal, known as “middlings” coal, the revised planning application was to only process premium metallurgical coal in a simplified, cheaper-to-construct mine proposed for the site of the former Marchon Chemical Works.

Following the announcement of a public inquiry into the proposed mining operation, Leigh Day solicitor Rowan Smith, who represented Marianne Bennett in her application for judicial review, said:

“This is extremely welcome news for the climate. However, if it had not been for the legal challenge brought by our client two years ago, which argued that the coal mine was incompatible with the Net Zero Target and forced the Council to think again, then construction would have already been underway by now. The Government should acknowledge this publicly and thank the campaign for what it has achieved.”

Marianne Bennett the founder of the nuclear safety group Radiation Free Lakeland whose Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole campaign was the first to call out this coal mine on nuclear and climate grounds said:

“The Government U-turn on a public inquiry is brilliant news, provided the inquiry also offers a further opportunity for the nuclear impacts of the proposal to be looked at again, given the development will take place under decades of Sellafield’s radioactive wastes and just five miles from the world’s riskiest nuclear waste site. We will be calling for that scrutiny to happen alongside the climate change issues.”

The public inquiry was announced after environment campaigners also warned that the go-ahead for the mine would have undermined the Government’s green credentials as it prepared to host the Cop26 international climate change summit in Glasgow later this year.

Friends of the Earth climate campaigner Tony Bosworth said it was “a startling, but very welcome U-turn by the Government”, reported Press Association.

He added: “Planning permission must be refused: ending coal use, whether for power generation or for industry, is crucial for facing down the climate emergency.

“It was not possible for the Government to maintain, as it claimed only two months ago, that this was just a matter of local importance and the decision will now rightly be taken at national level.”

The announcement came after the council said last month it would reconsider the application by West Cumbria Mining to mine for coking coal for use in steel production.

The move prompted the company to announce that it was lodging papers with the High Court to begin its own judicial review proceedings.

The application was first submitted in 2017 and had already been considered three times by the council’s planning committee without it reaching a final outcome.

Mr Jenrick said he had taken into account the latest recommendations of the Climate Change Committee for the sixth carbon budget which will set legal limits for emissions between 2033 and 2037.

His letter states: “The Secretary of State considers that this application raises planning issues of more than local importance, and further considers that the limbs of the call-in policy relating to potential conflict with national policies … and substantial cross-boundary or national controversy are satisfied.”


Update 18

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole

March 10, 2021

West Cumbria Mining Taking Legal Action Against Cumbria County Council.


Whitehaven Mermaid says "No Coal Mine"

Thank you to everyone for supporting our fight to stop the Cumbrian coal mine. 

Poor beleaguered Cumbria County Council – first we (Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole with lawyers Leigh Day) issue legal proceedings against them for giving the green light to the faux “environmentally friendly” “carbon neutral” coal mine and now West Cumbria Mining plan to start legal action against the council because the council quite rightly wants to review their flawed decision to permit the mine.  This new review of the plan follows the latest threat of legal action, (this time by South Lakes Action on Climate Change who are looking to challenge Secretary of State Robert Jenrick’s decision not to call the Council’s approval in for a public inquiry). 

West Cumbria Mining have issued a rather huffy statement which repeats all the old myths including that 90% of Cumbrians want this coal mine and that it would be a financial boon to Cumbria. Don’t make me laugh! West Cumbria Mining have already stole the Haig Mining Museum and lands from the Cumbrian public for less than the price of a bottle of pop (that is another story). It is clear that West Cumbria Mining are pretty ruthless operators.  

From West Cumbria Mining’s statement on their application for legal challenge “As a result of the actions taken by Cumbria CC, WCM concluded that the only course of action was to explore legal actions to secure the future of the project. Subsequently, WCM has instructed Hogan Lovells, a highly recognised and reputable international law firm, to take legal action on concerns that CCCs decision making process is robust and in accordance with the established framework. As the next step in this process, we have today (5th March 2021) lodged formal proceedings in respect of Cumbria CC’s decision to refer the matter back once again to the Committee.” 

If this mine does goes ahead below the decades of Sellafield’s nuclear waste discharges and just five miles from the most dangerous nuclear site in the world the radiation damage would be way beyond any remediation. It is very unlikely WCM would allow themselves to be held accountable for any damage to public health and the environment. It is sickening that this mine has the backing of government with key appointments of personnel including WCM’s CEO being made to the government’s ‘Delivery of a Deep Geological Disposal Facility” . The area in the frame is the Irish Sea adjacent to the mine. This should send shivers down the spine of every County Councillor.  Councillors need to find their spines now more than ever and refuse permission for this mine to open.  If the climate arguments are overwhelming (which they are) the nuclear impacts are even more so. It would take just 2-4 years for the plutonium wastes immobilised in the silts of the Irish Sea, having been remobilised by the coal mine’s “expected subsidence” to reach the Arctic. Rather less time to reach our shores and that of our neighbours in the Isle of Man, Ireland and Scotland.

Our (Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole) opposition to this coal mine has been unequivocal ie that the coal mine should not open at all because of the overwhelming nuclear and climate impacts.

This is in contrast to Friends of the Earth, Coal Action Network and others who gave Cumbria County Council license to permit the mine by suggestions that this "long lived" mine could have a shorter lifespan.  We understand the NGO's pragmatism in suggesting this to the Council but it was not right to suggest a "shorter" lifespan and this flawed advice needs to be put right urgently by those NGOs.

WHAT DID NGOs SAY TO CUMBRIA COUNTY COUNCIL ABOUT THE LIFESPAN OF THE MINE? 

"We would argue that the lifetime of the mine is therefore far too long and at the very least should be substantially reduced in order to ensure UK carbon budgets are met." Friends of the Earth 

"Limit the life of the mine to 2050 at latest It is agreed that we need to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050, which is well within the lifetime of this mine application. If the council does decide that there are merits of this application, on which Coal Action Network disagrees, surely there is no logic in approving extraction of coal following 2050."  Coal Action Network

"A development of this kind, with a long timescales of operation, is incompatible with the legal requirements."  Greenpeace

There are two ways of looking at this. 

1.  Cumbria County Council used the suggestions of NGOs to limit the lifetime of the mine to 2049 while without their suggestions it could have been 2070 which is what the developers asked for.   

2.  Cumbria CC ignored the plea from us and others NOT to open the mine AT ALL because it had the suggestion from NGOs with clout that the mine could be permitted up to 2050.  Cumbria County Council gave permission up to 2049.

It is really important that these NGOs make sure that Cumbria County Council knows that  previous suggestions of theirs that the mine could have a shorter lifespan were flawed (to say the least). 

If you are a member of Friends of the Earth, Coal Action Network and Greenpeace please ask them to ensure that they write to Cumbria County Council renouncing  their previous suggestions that the coal mine's projected lifetime is "too long."

Opening a new Cumbrian Coal mine under the Irish Sea is unacceptable for ANY length of time.





Update 17

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole

Feb. 24, 2021

Deep Geological Disposal Facility for Nuclear Wastes in the UK - a talk

Dear Friends,

On 15th March, The Science Discovery Group will be hosting a talk :

Development of a Deep Geological Disposal Facility for Nuclear Waste in the UK

Mark Kirkbride, Member on the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM)


What On Earth has that got to do with the Cumbria Coal Mine I hear you ask!

Well, just days after Cumbria County Council gave (provisional) planning permission to West Cumbria Mining in October 2019, the Chief Executive Officer of WCM was appointed to the UK Government body pushing the plan for the Geological Disposal of Nuclear Wastes in the UK.  The public body is called the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management.  They advise Radioactive Waste Management who had already appointed the Head of Operations at West Cumbria Mining to the job of Site Selection Manager for the Geological Disposal Facility (heat generating nuclear dump)  plan.  Both public bodies report to the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy who have voiced support for the coal mine plan and actively supported the plan from the outset (more on that in another post).

The area under consideration for a GDF is the Irish Sea area adjacent to the coal mine.  The coal mine itself would be directly under decades of Sellafield's radioactive discharges .  CoRWM have somewhat disingenuously told us they have "no interest" in either the coal mine development by one of their (twelve) members or in the fact that the coal mine would be directly under the decades of 'low level' waste (including plutonium) already discharged from Sellafield and sitting in the (soon to be disturbed by mining subsidence) silts on the Irish Sea bed.   

We assume that CoRWM would also reply that they have no interest at all in the geological stresses that Mark Kirkbride's  coal mine development would induce on the surrounding area of the Irish Sea which includes the area under consideration for a Geological Disposal Facility (subsea nuclear dump for heat generating nuclear wastes) for which Mark Kirkbride is giving a promotional talk on March 15th.

You see the corruption?  CoRWM say they see no conflict of interest in the appointment of West Cumbria Mining's CEO.  Mark Kirkbride has also been elevated to Chair of a Sub Group within the CoRWM Committee which provides:

"Scrutiny of and advice to BEIS and RWM on technical site evaluation criteria and plans for site investigation and characterisation.

Responsibilities:

  • scrutinise the application of the Site Evaluation and how appropriate it is for specific communities
  • examine RWM’s long-term planning and programme management initiatives. Provide feedback and informal advice by means of a written report"

So Mark Kirkbride is giving advice to former colleague at West Cumbria Mining Steve Reece who is now Site Selection Manager for Radioactive Waste Management.  The site in the frame is the Irish Sea area adjacent to the coal mine.  You get the drift ? (pun intended)

This information has been sent over and again in much detail to the national press and NGOs.   

It has been widely ignored.  

Is there some kind of 'D' notice on this shocking information?  

Just imagine if, a couple of years ago at the height of the campaign against Fracking, if a Developer had been appointed to a Government body?  The press would be all over it.  

As it is we are being treated to a Punch and Judy show on climate impacts of the mine - important - but this  diverts attention away from the corruption of governance that is going on in relation to this coal mine.   

I suspect the Government are only too happy to have pronuclear scientists lining up to denounce the climate impacts of this mine while totally ignoring the fact that the CEO of the coal mine has been appointed to high office in the governmental plan to push along a deep nuclear dump in the UK for heat generating nuclear wastes.

Here is a little competition.  The first reporter who manages to get the fact that the CEO of the coal mine has been appointed to CoRWM in the press will receive this original cartoon.  If anyone sees anything in the press which mentions Mark Kirkbride's elevation to CoRWM please do contact me here.  


I expect to keep the cartoon for a long while .....


Please UK press and mainstream NGOs  - surprise me!



Best wishes

Marianne

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole (a Radiation Free Lakeland campaign) 


Update 16

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole

Feb. 17, 2021

Excellent Letter to Cumbria County Council


"Coal Chokes Nukes Annihilate"

Thank you to everyone who is donating and campaigning to stop the Cumbrian coal Mine.  Here is an Excellent Letter to Cumbria County Council's Development Control & Regulation Committee.   Please do use this letter below from David Penney as inspiration for your own letters - if you have written before please do write again.  If you are a member or executive of one of the 80 organisations who wrote to Boris Johnson please ask NGOs to make sure they do not deceive the public by ignoring the serious nuclear aspects of this coal mine - ask them to write urgently to Cumbria County Council, (the ball has been kicked back to the local council) with the full truth including the intergenerational nuclear impacts.

Many Thanks,

Marianne

WRITE TO ........

Address and Email...

     Cumbria County Council                                                

      Development Control and Regulation Committee      

      Support Officer to Committee: Nicola Harrison                    

      Email: nicola.harrison@cumbria.gov.uk                

      COPY: Chair of the Committee, Geoffrey Cook             

       Email Geoffrey.Cook@cumbria.gov.uk


FOR INSPIRATION....

Dear Committee Members


Review: Planning Permission for new Coal Mine in West Cumbria


Following the Financial Times Article (9th February 2021) on a proposed deep Radioactive Waste Disposal Facility in West Cumbria, it has become clear that there is a connection between the proposed new Coal Mine and Geological Disposal Facility (GDF) as 2 Executives from the Mining Company have been seconded to serve on the Radioactive Waste Management Body (RWM), a subsidiary of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, which is responsible for finding a Nuclear Waste Disposal Site. 


One nuclear expert, Dr Paul Dorfman of University College London’s Energy Institute, is quoted as saying in the Financial Times Article that no new Nuclear Reactors should be built until they have solved the problem of the safe storage of existing nuclear waste. It is interesting to note that so far no safe waste storage facility has been developed anywhere in the world. Finland has been trying to develop such a deep nuclear fuel repository site at Onkalo since 2000 and still have not solved safe storage and technical problems. 


This link up between the coal and nuclear industries would seem to indicate that the proposed new coal mine, near to Sellafield, which stores an immense amount of nuclear waste in a hazardous deteriorating condition, and near to the proposed new nuclear reactors, might be accessed at a future date to develop a Geological Disposal Facility (GDF) for storing Radioactive Waste or on a site closely adjacent to the proposed mine with its potentially dangerous geological faults.


The Government has already announced a Consultation with the 2 relevant District Councils (Copeland and Allerdale) on finding a suitable GDF site in the area despite the presence of geological faults in the area of West Cumbria known collectively as “The Lake District Boundary Fault Zone” (LDBFZ) which lies at the junction between the Carboniferous and younger rocks of West Cumbria and the East Irish Sea Basin.


A British Geological Survey of the area in 2010 recorded in their Report: “Managing Radioactive Waste Safely: Initial Geological Unsuitability Screening of West Cumbria” that there were initial risks in using the area for a GDF due to unstable nature of the Geology and recommended further studies to confirm the unsuitability or otherwise of using the area as a GDF. 


In the light of these uncertainties and the risk of a new coal mine disturbing the geology with further faults, fractures, subsidence and leakage, which could have adverse impacts on the site of adjoining Sellafield as well as the proposed sites for new Nuclear Reactors and a GDF, it would be reasonable that the precautionary principle should be invoked and planning permission for a new Coal Mine in West Cumbria should be rescinded along with the other main reason stated in this Submission 

A decision by Cumbria County Council to revoke planning permission for a new coal mine would also imply that any proposal for a GDF in West Cumbria would also be rejected. 

  

The two West Cumbrian Councils of Copeland and Allerdale seem to support the new coal mine saying that it is needed to supply coal/coke to the steel industry in the UK and would create lots of jobs as well as export surplus coal (CO2) overseas. What they don't tell us is that steel can be produced in electric arc furnaces or new hydrogen powered carbon free steel foundries being developed by Sweden. 


Supporters also ignore the impact of increasing CO2 emissions from extracting coal which would contravene UK’s commitment to phase out coal, gas and oil fossil fuel production and reduce CO2 emissions under the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement, which was ratified by Parliament and should be implemented as Government Policy


The Government claims to be a world leader in combating Climate Change. If the opening of a new coal mine is allowed to go ahead it will undermine and invalidate this claim and not set a good example as the UK hosts the UN COP26 Conference in Glasgow in November 2021.


In summary, the main reasons for overturning the Planning Permission for the new Coal Mine in West Cumbria are as follows:

  • It would reaffirm the UK’s commitment to phase out coal mining to reduce CO2 emissions and comply with Policies to combat Climate Change;
  • It would protect the Geology of the West Cumbria and the East Irish Sea Basin Fault Zone from developing further faults;
  • It would stop the risks of potential geological disturbances to nearby existing nuclear sites and any future proposed nuclear installations in the vicinity.


In the light of these criticisms and objections, we hope Cumbria County Council will rescind planning permission for this coal mine as well as reject any future planning application for a GDF in West Cumbria.


Yours truly

David Penney


On behalf of:

Cumbria and Lancashire Area CND, as Coordinator; 

East Lancashire CND, as Chair; ....




Update 15

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole

Feb. 13, 2021

Walter Asks "How Deep is Your Love?"

Walter Asks : How Deep is Your Love ?



The most controversial coal mine in UK history has seen its executives (one former and one existing) appointed by Government to the official bodies tasked with "Delivery of the Geological Disposal Facility for heat generating nuclear wastes. "   The promoted GDF  is being touted in the area immediately adjacent to the coal mine plan under the Irish Sea.  In March the Chief Executive Officer of West Cumbria Mining will be giving a talk promoting Delivery of a GDF - he has been employed by the government department of BEIS to do this.   


The lack of press and mainstream NGO scrutiny and questioning over this and other appointments is noteworthy.

Walter has written the following emails,  and he raises questions that the mainstream press and conservation and environmental bodies SHOULD BE ASKING instead of expressing their continued surprise to a gullible mainstream press at why Government is so damn keen on this coal mine.  It is no surprise when you view it through the prism of the Government's desperation to get the ducks lined up for one or more GDF's.  Of course they are  prepared to suffer some climate embarrassment in order to keep the nuclear shebang going.  What is mystifying is why mainstream groups continue to give the nuclear industry a free ride.  They are doing the public no favours.

Here are Walter’s thoughts...

"The Haig Pit mined for Anthracite, the top grade of Metallurgical coal. It was as financially viable as Warrior Coal and most certainly more viable than WCM could ever be.  The Haig Mine was closed and capped because it was too dangerous due to the methane levels.It had killed too many men in its life.  I was born in Frizington, the mining village near St Bees; my father was a miner, as were my grandfather and great-grandfather. I am now over 90 years old, but I am far from senile. I am appalled that undersea excavation of the seabed is proposed at a location only 9 miles from Sellafield, which is classified as the most dangerous industrial site in Europe. If the excavations cause an earthquake at Sellafield, and the decaying steel surface tanks, which contain a toxic mix of nuclear waste (including 3000 kg of Caesium-137) are breached, releasing their contents into the atmosphere, then a large area of North England could be made uninhabitable for years. At Chernobyl, only 27 kg of Caesium-137 was involved. West Cumbria Mining (WCM) Ltd is  80% owned by EMR Venture Capital, which is registered in the Cayman Islands, and the decision as to whether permission to mine is granted to WCM is being left to the Cumbria County Council. The people of Cumbria have not voted on this matter, but they should, and the final decision, which will be of such grave importance, should be made at Cabinet Level and have the personal attention of the Prime Minister. I think it would be fair to ask why, in a matter of national importance, did the Government not insist that only companies registered in Stock Exchanges, such as the London Exchange or equivalent, be allowed to seek permission to mine in such a sensitive location, only 9 miles from Sellafield. Several other important points come to mind:  Is it feasible that WCM, mining under the sea for metallurgical coal, could obtain results that would ever be attractive for a Private Equity Company like EMR? (The major Met Coal miner in the USA (Warrior Coal) has a PE ratio of 59, ie, it will take 59 years for earnings to recoup the stock price). Thus, we ask what is EMR’s real motive? EMR would never invest in an operation with a PE of 59, unless they saw a hidden pot of gold in it. My own opinion is that the WCM proposal would be bound to be a loss-making operation for many years. Therefore, I suggest this operation would be quickly closed by EMR, once their hidden goal was achieved, namely, the creation of a Geological Disposal Facility (GDF) under the sea off St Bees headland, in spite of the geological unsuitability of this site. Look at the painstaking work done by Sweden in determining the location of its GDF, and the huge expense entailed. I have not found any analysis of the financial viability of the WCM proposal, but there is clear evidence of the weakness of WMC’s  case here:   https://slacc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/WCM-An-Analysis-2.pdf WCM was, right from the start, nothing more than the PathFinder for a GDF undersea, offshore from Sellafield. I am sure one of the reasons WCM is registered in the Cayman Islands was to hide the Financial facts away from examination. It is absolutely certain that WCM never could make a viable economic case for the mine, and once it has done its PathFinder  work  for a GDF, it will be allowed to go into bankruptcy.So much for the 500 jobs.For the sharks at ERM it is the GDF which is the pot of gold it is after.

I suspect the government has always been aware of all this but is desperate to be rid of  the Sellafield nuclear risk.that is probably why Jenrick waved it through and was happy to let the county council take the decision. If (and it is a big if) the Council turns the mine down it will be intriguing to see how the government acts.


It is very surprising no one seems to have asked why was it considered necessary to register WCM in the Cayman Islands. A mining company does not need such  a registration unless it has something it wishes to hide.

Nor does anyone appear to have looked at the results of the USA Miner of Metallurgical Coal.

The company, is Warrior Coal, which lists on the NYSE and therefore its results are public.

Warrior mines on sites which are deep below the surface and are mined using standard excavation equipment.It is a well run company and is very efficient, It sells Metallurgical Coal globally, yet it struggles to make an acceptable return on capital. How, therefore, will WCM, mining under sea, with all the complications and expense, succeed.?  Organisations like ERM which owns WCM normally looks for a return on capital of 50%

They certainly will not get it out of WCM, so what is its motivation ? The answer is probably that WCM is the PathFinder for a GDF - that is the pot of gold that ERM is after. A GDF involves investments of many billions of $, much of it public money, over many years. ERM is looking to access all that lovely money.

A GDF requires years of study to find a suitable location in stable rock, thus, an undersea location of dubious stability is clearly unsuitable for a GDF.

WCM  probably will go into bankruptcy after a few years of a loss-making operation.

  It  is essential that, before the County Council grants permission it insists on being provided with the financial calculation made by ERM and WCM.

 Can you, Terry, see a way to obtain that information?

Are you, Terry, prepared to make sure the Organisation Keep the Coal in The Ground are aware of Warrior Coal, and that the real reason for WCM’s proposal is nothing to do with mining coal, it is to let ERM mine the gold in the form of the billions of public money coming from a GDF.

I think it is fair to ask the Labour Office if it has looked at the example of Warrior Coal in the USA, and asked why the true basis of WCM is hidden by the Cayman Islands Registration.

I think it is fair to ask the Guardian why it has not made any attempt to probe just what is going on with WCM/ERM and the British Government.

I think it would be fair to ask why in a matter of National importance did the government not insist that only companies registered in Stock Exchanges, such as the London Exchange or equivalent, be allowed to seek permission to mine in such a sensitive location only 9 miles from Sellafield.


I’ve also attached below some relevant links.

note: the mine would extend to within 5 miles of Sellafield 


https://keepcumbriancoalinthehole.wordpress.com/



https://leftfootforward.org/2019/03/revealed-planned-cumbria-coal-mine-ultimately-owned-in-cayman-islands/


https://www.westcumbriamining.com/will-mean-west-cumbria/what-happens-when-it-closes/


https://www.niauk.org/industry-issues/waste-management/


https://www.wired.co.uk/article/inside-sellafield-nuclear-waste-decommissioning


https://www.reuters.com/article/us-britain-nuclearpower-waste-idUSKBN1FE1OM


https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sellafield


https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22530053-800-shocking-state-of-worlds-riskiest-nuclear-waste-site/


https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cumbria-54808533


https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/sellafield-ltd-incident-reports-and-notices


https://www.lancs.live/news/local-news/five-events-caused-concern-sellafield-18668407


https://www.irishtimes.com/news/workers-evacuated-after-sellafield-accident-1.179724


https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200102/cmselect/cmdfence/518/518ap05.htm


https://www.irishtimes.com/news/report-wants-end-to-waste-storage-at-sellafield-plant-1.166130


https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/758942/Monitoring_Environmental_Discharges_2017.pdf


https://www.sgr.org.uk/resources/could-terrorists-turn-uk-nuclear-wasteland


https://www.epa.ie/pubs/reports/radiation/Potential_radiological_impact_Ireland.pdf


https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windscale_fire


https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/9502371/security-fears-chernobyl-sellafield/


https://forums.digitalspy.com/discussion/2191585/geographically-what-areas-of-the-uk-would-survive-a-full-scale-nuclear-attack/p2


https://www.parliament.uk/globalassets/documents/post/postpr222.pdf


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


https://theecologist.org/2018/feb/05/new-deep-coal-mine-deep-under-sea-next-sellafield-really


https://www.climatechangenews.com/2019/04/25/town-needs-self-respect-new-coal-mine-open-uk/


https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/feb/04/cumbria-coalmine-tory-green-policies-jobs-north


Update 14

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole

Feb. 11, 2021

Great News!! Council to Reconsider Coal Mine Plan!!

https://youtu.be/TyVq-zgxYY4

GREAT NEWS!! 

Cumbria County Council are to reconsider the Coal Mine Plan in the light of new information.   All the press coverage on this rethink by the Council has referred only to climate impacts  - apart from the Cumberland Echo who say 

"Much is made of the fact that those in favour of the new mining venture think only of the jobs and positive spin-offs they will bring to the area without addressing the concerns of the opponents. Most of the worries centre around interference with climate change but of equal concern, although not aired half as much, is geological issues under the sea. "

"Mainly it centres around Sellafield’s lack of taking responsibility for radioactive wastes on the seabed directly above the coal mine while there’s new awareness of lack of testing by the British Geological Society (hydrology/geology/seismicity)."


Here is our latest letter to Cumbria County Council asking them not to rubber stamp the Decision Notice.
MASSIVE Thank You to Everyone who has written asking for more scrutiny. The date for the new Planning Meeting is yet to be confirmed – will keep you posted!- thanks Cumberland Echo!

Please continue to lobby Cumbria County Council asking them to follow the example of leading councillors and refuse permission for the Decision Notice to be granted email the Development Control & Regulation Committee here: 

Below is our latest letter to Cumbria County Council asking them not to rubber stamp the Decision Notice. Thank You to Everyone who has written asking for more scrutiny. The date for the new Planning Meeting is yet to be confirmed – will keep you posted!

Dear Development Control and Regulation Committee,  Chairman and Secretary

I am writing to you again on behalf of Keep Cumbrian Coal, a Radiation Free Lakeland campaign. On this occasion I write to ask that you do not issue a Decision Notice for the Woodhouse Colliery application until your members have had the opportunity to take into account the significant developments that have occurred since they discussed the revised application. Your Committee decided not to reject the application. I put it this way because you will recall that the Secretary of State placed a holding instruction on the Council which prevented approval being granted. This instruction was removed on the 6 January 2021, as you know, and has not been reapplied despite pressure to do so. The Council is therefore now free to decide the application.

In the intervening time since you decided not to reject the application but were minded to approve it there have been significant events that should be taken into account:

  • Climate Change Committee’s advice on the 6th Carbon Budget
  • Coal Authority lapse of approval for any further onshore and offshore exploration.
  • Sellafield’s lack of taking responsibility for radioactive wastes on the seabed directly above the coal mine
  • New Awareness of Lack of testing by the British Geological Society (hydrology/geology/seismicity)
  • Awareness of Appointments of West Cumbria Mining Executives to public bodies Radioactive Waste Management and Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (two public bodies reporting to Dept of Business Energy and Industrial Strategy)
  • Awareness of Cumbrian Heritage and Land sold for £1

6th Carbon Budget

A Letter has been sent from Lord Deben, Chairman of the Climate Change Committee (CCC) to Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government about the decision not to call in, or review, the recent decision of Cumbria County Council to grant planning permission to a new Cumbrian coal mine saying that ” The mine is projected to increase UK emissions by 0.4Mt CO2e per year. This is greater than the level of annual emissions we have projected from all open UK coal mines to 2050.” We have written to the Committee asking that they also write to their parent Dept of Business Energy and Industrial Strategy urging BEIS not to issue new Coal Authority Licences for Cumbria. Furthermore, on 9 December 2020,  the CCC recommended CO2 emissions to be cut by 78% between 1990 and 2035, which would in effect bring forward the UK’s previous 80% target by nearly 15 years.

Coal Authority LIcences (CA report to BEIS)

The original Coal Authority licenses were given to Riverside Energy and then West Cumbria Mining over and above the heads of councillors and the public in 2013/14. The original licences for WCM ran for five years with an extension of 3 years. Two of the three have effectively now lapsed and West Cumbria Mining have applied for an extension of those conditional licenses. The lapsed licenses have been temporarily extended pending the Coal Authority’s consideration of the application, but meanwhile any works under those licences is prohibited. Under the original licence many miles of exploratory boreholes were drilled and a methane gas pocket was accidentally hit under the Irish Sea off St Bees necessitating the call out of the Irish Coast Guard.

Lack of Testing/Scrutiny by British Geological Society

The British Geological Society informed us in August 2020 that they have not carried out any hydrological surveys despite much of West Cumbria’s drinking water being drawn from boreholes in South Egremont a few miles away. We are mindful that the BGS gave a clean bill of health to arsenic contaminated water in Bangladesh which resulted in the biggest poisoning event in history and is still ongoing today. Also of concern is the BGS signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with Radioactive Waste Management/CoRWM who have appointed at least one former executive and one current executive from West Cumbria Mining to facilitating Geological Disposal. We consider this a conflict of interest.

Responsibility for the Safety of Radioactive Wastes on the Irish Sea Bed

The Chief Executive Officer of WCM has stated that ‘the mine has nothing to do with nuclear waste’ despite the mine being situated beneath decades of Sellafield’s discharges. When it comes to taking responsibility for damage to health and environment coal mining companies are almost as notorious for evasion as the nuclear industry. We have tried repeatedly to find out just who is responsible for the undiluted and largely undispersed radioactive wastes on the Irish Sea bed. These wastes should not be disturbed and resuspended by, as WCM say “expected” subsidence.. Sellafield have refused to admit responsibility for the radioactive wastes on the seabed merely restating their commitment to “monitoring”. We endorse the call by the Nuclear Free Local Authorities for the Decision Notice not to be issued until this issue of responsibility has been addressed. We have put in an official complaint to the Information Commissioner.

The former leader of Cumbria County Council Eddie Martin has this week raised concerns with us about the links between the coal mine developers and the plan for a geological disposal facility in the Irish Sea area adjacent to the coal mine.

He has said: “Clearly the mine is a precursor to a GDF”

This statement is evidence based. Following the County Council’s 31st Oct 2019 meeting at which the first WCM application was approved (pending 106 agreements and Decision Notice), the Chief Executive Officer of West Cumbria Mining was appointed to the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management. This appointment was just days after the Council’s approval of WCM’s planning application. As well as the appointment of Mark Kirkbride to CoRWM, the former Head of Operations of WCM Steve Reece is now the Site Selection Manager at Radioactive Waste Management.

We are extremely concerned at the lack of transparency of governance in the appointments of executives of West Cumbria Mining to public bodies facilitating Geological Disposal despite those same executives being party to the most controversial coal mine development in the UK. These public bodies of CoRWM and RWM report directly and indirectly (RWM reports to NDA) to the Department of Business Energy and Industrial Strategy. The same Department BEIS is also responsible for the public body issuing Coal Authority licenses who first issued WCM (originally Riverside) with a license to drill over the heads of councillors and the public in 2013/14. 

Haig Mining Museum and Land bought for £1

The narrative WCM and its supporters like to present is one of a financial boon to West Cumbria. It is no secret that mine companies use administration or bankruptcy laws to avoid paying out on health damage, remediation or just to consolidate their assets and the CEO of WCM has a track record of this legal but unethical practice. It has not been widely reported that West Cumbria Mining have already fleeced West Cumbria of its publicly owned Heritage Lottery Funded Haig Mining Museum and lands. WCM waited until the planning application was secured before offering £1 for the land and buildings and £39,000 for the historically important and valuable fixtures and fittings in the visitor centre and powerhouse. Following this “purchase” WCM put in place the paperwork to ensure that when the developers go into administration to divest/regroup – the Haig Museum, land and assets would not go to creditors but to unknown persons via EMR Capital. Competition rules apparently did not apply in the WCM “purchase” of West Cumbria Minings valuable heritage and land whose actual value runs into £Millions, now lost forever to EMR Capital’s initial backers. Radiation Free Lakeland whose membership includes some with expertise in Industrial Heritage, Interpretation, Museums and Conservation would have liked the opportunity to have offered far more than £1. That opportunity was not given to anyone as the plan to hand over publicly owned heritage to WCM was as far as we know not made public. Another “buyer” could have kept the heritage and museum intact and publicly available, offering a social hub and adding to the intrinsic value of the Heritage Coast. That the Heritage Lottery Funded Museum and extensive Land has now been sold for far less than a mess of pottage to venture capitalists under the homely guise of a ‘local coal mine’ is an unreported national scandal. (19 Feb 2020 Return of final meeting in a creditors’ voluntary winding up https://find-and-update.company-information.service.gov.uk/company/04914614/filing-history )

We are grateful that Cumbria County Councillors are scrupulous about declaring conflicts of interest. However, the vested interests surrounding this coal mine are raising huge concerns such as that voiced to us by the former leader of Cumbria County Council Eddie Martin. ““Clearly the mine is a precursor to a GDF”

We urge the Development Control and Regulation Committee to take control of this spiral of corruption of governance and refuse to issue a Decision Notice for this Development in the most transparent way possible. That is to put this application on the first available meeting, air the issues once more and to follow the example of leading councillors in refusing the application.

yours sincerely

Marianne Birkby

On behalf of Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole (a Radiation Free Lakeland campaign)

Radiation Free Lakeland

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

Campaigns :  

Lakes Against Nuclear Dump 

https://www.lakesagainstnucleardump.com/

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole

https://keepcumbriancoalinthehole.wordpress.com/

References

6th Climate Budget 

https://www.theccc.org.uk/publication/sixth-carbon-budget/     note the Climate Change Committee is appointed by BEIS who awarded West Cumbria Mining Coal Authority conditional license in 2013/14

British Geological Society Lack of Testing in West Cumbria https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/west_cumbria_mining_abstraction#incoming-1625582

British Geological Society Lack of Testing in Bangladesh https://www.iwapublishing.com/news/arsenic-contamination-groundwater-bangladesh-environmental-and-social-disaster

Who is Responsible for Radioactive Waste on the Irish Sea Bed – Call from Nuclear Free Local Authorities

NFLA troubled by the UK Communities Minister not ‘calling in’ the decision over a deep underground coal mine in West Cumbria

Steve Reece WCM/RWM  https://uk.linkedin.com/in/steve-reece-7b47713b

Mark Kirkbride WCM/CoRWM  https://www.gov.uk/government/people/mark-kirkbridg

Mark Kirkbride 

Above extract 

19 Feb 2020Return of final meeting in a creditors’ voluntary winding up

https://find-and-update.company-information.service.gov.uk/company/04914614/filing-history

West Cumbria Mining documents detailing how assets worth £millions bought for £1would be protected from creditors

24 Nov 2020Registration of charge 071433980002, 

the document can be found here  https://find-and-update.company-information.service.gov.uk/company/07143398/filing-history


Update 13

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole

Feb. 6, 2021

Sharpened Quills and the Cumbrian Coal Mine


Dear Friends,

Thank you to all who are sharing and donating - we have certainly raised the profile of this plan with all the recent press coverage but somehow the Devil is in the detail and that detail matters if we are to stop this mine.  I hope you have your quills ready sharpened as here is an action you can easily take.  

Here below is my Letter sent to the Committee on Climate Change today – please do write your own letters urging the Committee to write to their parent department of Business Energy and Industrial Strategy who hold ALL the cards. Write to them here: https://www.theccc.org.uk/contact-us/


Dear Committee on Climate Change,

Thank you for writing to Robert Jenrick Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government regarding the proposed Woodhouse Colliery in West Cumbria and exposing the fact that opening this coal mine would mean that the 6th Carbon Budget would not be achieved by the UK.

We ask that you also write to your parent Dept, the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy who bizarrely are responsible for the Coal Authority as well as the Committee on Climate Change. The Coal Authority (sanctioned by BEIS) issued conditional Coal Authority Licences to the developers West Cumbria Mining in 2013/14. The licences were issued above the heads of local councillors and the public. These licences have lapsed and West Cumbria Mining have applied for an extension/renewal. We ask that you write to the Secretary of State for BEIS Kwasi Kwarteng urging him to ensure that new Coal Authority licences are not issued for the coal mine in Cumbria. We also ask that you write to the Coal Authority urging them not to issue renewal of licences for West Cumbria Mining. It is a scandal that the original licences were issued quietly 8 years ago. Even more of a scandal now given that we now know the full implications of this coal mine which would be under the decades of Sellafield’s radioactive wastes on the Irish Sea bed and just five miles from the worlds riskiest nuclear waste site. The reasons not to issue licences are overwhelming. Please follow up your excellent letter to Robert Jenrick by writing to BEIS and the Coal Authority and ensure Game Over for the most controversial and dangerous coal mine ever to be proposed in the UK.

Thank You

.......

Update 12

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole

Feb. 3, 2021

Do Not Issue New Coal Authority Licences For Cumbria!


Image: one of the two new licence areas applied for - one is onshore and this offshore  area No 2 is the offshore area in which there is the least coal resource ( it is adjacent to Radioactive Waste Management's proposed 'possible' area under the Irish Sea for a Geological Disposal Facility) 

Dear Friends,

Thank you so much to everyone who is supporting this grassroots campaign to Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole, whether by  donating and or by writing, lobbying and more!

For the last couple of weeks I have been trying to raise the issue in the press of the Coal Licences having lapsed and being due for renewal.  Despite speaking for hours on the phone to various national reporters I have seen nothing in the printed press about the fact that if the licences are not renewed it would be Game Over for the Cumbrian Coal Mine.

Here is a letter (unpublished as yet) sent to the press.

Please do use it as inspiration to write your own letters to the Business Energy and Industrial Strategy Dept (see below for more info) asking that they do not issue new coal licences over and above the heads of the public and local Cumbrian Councillors.

Many Thanks for all your continuing actions against this diabolic plan.

Marianne


Dear Editor,

There has been much in the press about the Climate Change Tsar Alok Sharma and the Climate Change Committee "seething" at the refusal of the Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick to call in Cumbria County Council's approval of the coal mine (which happens to be just five miles from the worlds riskiest nuclear waste site).  This "seething" looks like so much posturing given that both Alok Sharma MP and the Climate Change Committee owe their appointments to the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. BEIS gave West Cumbria Mining  conditional licence to drill "exploratory boreholes" (above the heads of local councillors and the public) 8 years ago.  The Developers are now asking for a renewal for their "exploratory" conditional licences  Will BEIS (who appoint the Climate Change Committee and have responsibility for the Coal Authority do the right thing, refuse the conditional licences and call Game Over for the Cumbrian Coal mine?  If not, it is Game Over for any credibility of the UK hosting the Climate Summit COP26 and perhaps more importantly for our immediate safety, Game Over for any pretence of responsibility for the geological integrity of the Irish Sea area surrounding Sellafield.  Write to BEIS and tell them not to issue renewed "conditional" or "unconditional" licences to West Cumbria Mining, people can email them here : enquiries@beis.gov.uk



Letter from the Coal Authority (who are a BEIS authority)  to Radiation Free Lakeland

."This site currently has 3 conditional licences which have been in place since 2013/14. A conditional licence allows coal exploration and would need to be replaced by a full licence in order for coaling to begin. On 18th January 2021 date West Cumbria Mining Ltd applied to extend the end dates of 2 of these conditional licences (UND/0184 & UND/0177). They were due to expire on 24th January 2021 but they will remain in place until the application to extend them has been determined. No exploratory works will be undertaken during this time. The application will take approximately 3 months to determine. If the conditional licences were extended the operator would still need to apply for one or more full coaling licences before coaling can begin. When the conditional licence extension application has been determined the outcome will be posted on our website: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coal-mining-licenceapplications.



Update 11

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole

Jan. 25, 2021

Tim Farron MP Urges Government :Have “Courage” and Allow “Full” Public Scrutiny

Image from Radiation Free Lakeland: one of West Cumbria Mining's exploratory drilling rigs off St Bees in 2017- conditional Coal Authority Licenses were issued 8 years ago over the heads of the public and the local council.  One of the rigs hit a methane gas pocket - the Irish Coast Guard were called out.

Dear Friends

Thank you to everyone who has already written to the Business Energy and Industrial Strategy Secretary of State Kwasi Kwarteng MP urging the Government NOT TO ISSUE COAL AUTHORITY LICENCES.

There is a letter below from Tim Farron MP and the more letters from members of the public that ask for a full public consultation on the issuing of Coal Authority licenses for West Cumbria Mining the better chance we have of showing how politically unacceptable it would be for BEIS (who are responsible for the Coal Authority) to rubber stamp this dangerous plan over the heads of the public (Govnt having said it is a "local decision" they want their cake and eat it)

Our press release is below for inspiration on writing your own letters to BEIS and Kwasi Kwarteng MP  

Contact Details for BEIS and Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng:

phone – 020 7219 5777

email – kwasi.kwarteng.mp@parliament.uk

Twitter- @KwasiKwarteng

Twitter – @beisgovuk


PRESS NOTICE 22.1.21

Government Urged to Have “Courage” and Allow “Full” Public Scrutiny of Any New Coal Mine Licences for the First Deep Coal Mine in 30 Years

Tim Farron MP has written to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy saying “I am pleased to confirm that I have written to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy to urge that the renewal of the coal licence for the West Cumbria Mine be put to a full consultation. I have also challenged him to have the courage, where his cabinet colleague has not, and see to it that the mine does not go ahead”

This follows revelations by nuclear safety group Radiation Free Lakeland on the imminent lapse of West Cumbria Mining’s licenses from the Coal Authority.  The group say that “It is our understanding that four of the five conditional licenses issued to West Cumbria Mining reach the end of their lives this weekend and that the issuing of new licenses by the Coal Authority would be a matter of great political significance at this time of change in appointments; not least the Secretary of State for BEIS and the President of the United States”.

The group who have run a Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole campaign since 2017, which has seen the plan repeatedly delayed, have urged their supporters to contact the newly appointed Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng MP. An open letter to the Secretary of State for BEIS says:

“The developers West Cumbria Mining hold a series of Coal Authority licences which were issued undemocratically over the heads of the public and local councillors and collectively cover an area of approximately 200 km2 off the coast at Whitehaven along with a far smaller area onshore. The UK Dept for Business Energy and Industry Strategy have argued this week that the coal mine is a local decision.  However in the awarding of the previous and any new Coal Authority licenses to the developers (West Cumbria Mining) the buck stops with BEIS. Accountability of the Coal Authority lies directly with the BEIS. The conditional licenses awarded 8 years ago are due to run out any day”.

Nuclear safety campaigners were the first to oppose this mine back in 2017. 

BEIS is directly responsible for the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management . CoRWM have appointed the CEO of the coal mine development, Mark Kirkbride to their committee. This committee was set up to advise BEIS (and Radioactive Waste Management) on “site selection” of a potential Geological Disposal Facility for Radioactive Wastes. The Coal Mine is adjacent to the area under the Irish Sea bed which is ‘in the frame’ for the subsea geological disposal of heat generating nuclear wastes.

Nuclear safety campaigners have asked the Secretary of State:  “Do the BEIS believe that mining out coal adjacent to the area in the frame as a Geological Disposal Facility will make the rocks more stable? Or that mining directly under the decades of Sellafield’s discharged wastes will make them safer?”

The nuclear safety campaign group are delighted that Tim Farron MP has called for a full consultation on the issuing of Coal Authority licenses for Cumbria.

ENDS 

contact

Marianne Birkby Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole, (a Radiation Free Lakeland campaign)


CrowdJustice campaign https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/help-stop-the-cumbrian-coal-mi/

Open Letter to Rt Hon Kwasi Kwateng MP

https://keepcumbriancoalinthehole.wordpress.com/2021/01/22/urgent-the-buck-stops-with-beis-no-license-to-mine-coal/

Mine Delayed Repeatedly https://www.leighday.co.uk/News/Press-releases-2020/May-2020/Vindication-for-campaigner-fighting-plan-for-deep


Email 22nd January 2020

LETTER FROM TIM FARRON MP 

Re: West Cumbria Mining's Coal Licenses run out at end of January! (Case Ref: TF126325)

Dear Marianne


Thank you very much for your recent email with regard to the renewal of coal licences for the West Cumbria Mine.


As you are aware, I am extraordinarily critical of and disappointed by the Government’s decision to approve the mine.  A new mine is a mistake and a massive backwards step into the 19th century.  The Business Secretary himself has admitted that the new mine contradicts the Government’s environmental policies.  I would be more than happy to raise this matter on your behalf.

 

I am pleased to confirm that I have written to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy to urge that the renewal of the coal licence for the West Cumbria Mine be put to a full consultation. I have also challenged him to have the courage, where his cabinet colleague has not, and see to it that the mine does not go ahead.  I will write again, when I have received the response.

 

With best wishes

 

Yours sincerely

 

TIM FARRON MP

 

Update 10

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole

Jan. 18, 2021

Do Not Rubber Stamp New Coal Authority Licenses for Cumbria!

exploratory boreholes resulting from the Coal Authority''s granting of conditional licenses over the last few years have largely been in the Offshore No 2 area including the one that inadvertently hit a methane gas pocket off St Bees necessitating the call out of the Irish Coast Guard.

Dear Friends,

West Cumbria Mining's licenses to exploit/extract coal onland and under the Irish Sea are due to run out any day.  They need new licenses in order to mine both under land and sea!

We have written to Tim Farron MP (see below) asking him to ensure that the Coal Authority Licenses for the first deep coal mine in the UK in 30 years are not renewed in a clandestine and undemocratic manner over the heads of the public without any scrutiny or consultation.  

We have also written a brief letter to the Coal Authority which you can see below.  Please do write to your own MPs asking them to ensure that the Coal Authority do not rubber stamp new licenses for West Cumbria Mining's "Woodhouse Colliery".  

With Many Thanks for all your continued opposition to this dangerously crazy plan.

LETTER TO TIM FARRON MP

Dear Tim,

Thank you for your continued stance against West Cumbria Mining’s plan to extract coal from beneath the Irish Sea.

We note that the original conditional licenses given to West Cumbria Mining by the Coal Authority are due to run out.  

They were issued in : (CA11/UND/0177/N (date of grant 24 Jan 2013), CA11/UND/0184/N (date of grant 24 Jan 13) and CA11/UND/0185/N (date of grant 15 Oct 2014)).

To run for five years and then they were extended for a further 3 years to the maximum the Authority allow for conditional license.

Which means WCM would need to start renewing licences by 24th January.

To issue West Cumbria Mining with new licenses would be a challenging political decision.  The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is accountable to Parliament for the activities and performance of the Coal Authority.  This means that the decision to issue new licenses to West Cumbria Mining could not be anything other than a BEIS, ie a government approved, decision. The Secretary of State’s ‘get out’ of devolving it to Cumbria County Council, Pontius Pilate like, won't be available to BEIS.

The world has changed since the Coal Authority issued West Cumbria Mining with licenses 8 years ago.   Questions of climate and nuclear safety have been asked about this coal mine.   The mine itself would be adjacent to the area being promoted by BEIS as a possible Geological Disposal Facility under the Irish Sea.  BEIS is responsible for the provision of and management of the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management who advise RWM.  The CEO of the coal mine has now been appointed to CoRWM (Nov 2019).  Its hard to imagine the proposed coal mine making the laterally neighbouring rocks for a BEIS/CoRWM/RWM promoted GDF become more stable!!   

These questions of conflicts of interest of governance have not been answered and deserve full public scrutiny.

We urge BEIS and the Coal Authority not to hand out licenses to West Cumbria Mining over the heads of the public.  There should be a well advertised, full public consultation by the Coal Authority over the issuing of new licences to West Cumbria Mining.

Many thanks

Marianne……


LETTER TO THE COAL AUTHORITY

Dear Coal Authority,

We note that the current licenses for West Cumbria Mining are due to run out very soon,

Please could we have confirmation of the dates the licenses are due to be renewed.

Has West Cumbria Mining applied for renewal of these licenses?

(we believe to be : (CA11/UND/0177/N (date of grant 24 Jan 2013), CA11/UND/0184/N (date of grant 24 Jan 13) and CA11/UND/0185/N (date of grant 15 Oct 2014).

All to run for five years and were extended for a further 3 years ?  

We note that exploratory boreholes resulting from the Coal Authority''s granting of conditional licenses over the last few years have largely been in the Offshore No 2 area including the one that inadvertently hit a methane gas pocket off St Bees necessitating the call out of the Irish Coast Guard.  This area is immediately adjacent to the "site selection" area that is under consideration by Radioactive Waste Management/CoRWM for a geological disposal facility.

We request sight of any new applications by West Cumbria Mining for new licenses and also the opportunity to respond to those applications.

Yours sincerely

Marianne .....

on behalf of Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole (a Radiation Free Lakeland campaign)

Update 9

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole

Jan. 15, 2021

The Intrepid Jogger!

Many thanks to all who are sharing and donating to our crowdfunder.  You may have seen that a new crowdfund by South Lakes Action on Climate Change has been set up and is well supported by NGOs.  We fully support SLACCs push for a Judicial Review and hope it is successful in going forward for all our sakes!  

Our own previous detailed work towards a Judicial Review has repeatedly delayed the mine and has had the effect of encouraging others to take action.  

Our concerns include the serious nuclear impacts (largely a taboo subject for so many groups).   We are exploring the best way to challenge the ignored nuclear impacts of this mine with our lawyers Leigh Day.

We continue to challenge the coal mine plan at every opportunity and will have news soon of ways we could stop the mine in its tracks - in the meantime here is an insightful Guest Blog from our intrepid jogger ......

With Many Thanks 

Marianne

===============================================================

The Jogger!

Hello it’s been a while since my last write up but I have been putting in the kilometres around the streets and harbour side of Whitehaven, adorned with the simple message upon my t-shirt KEEP the COAL in the HOLE

Like yourselves, so disappointed that the government minister did not call in this coal mine.

Did you hear our own Marianne on BBC Wireless Cumbria, Mike Zellers Breakfast Show, Thursday 7th January 2021. Here is a YouTube link for you with photo compilation. 

Copeland Conservative MP Trudy Harrison has something to say about the coal mine but she has some facts quite wrong. Our morals and lack of democracy were criticised by the MP. Have a listen, the interview is featured on the video link above.

Mrs Harrison says Whitehaven coal will make £1.8 Billion for the UK GDP in 1st ten years of production. The UK, a world leader on climate with a 10 point plan Green Industrial Revolution is going to make a heap of money from exporting another fossil fuel. I don’t see how a coal mine is going to make our nation cleaner, greener and more beautiful, certainly not in my back yard anyway. Link below for the Government paper Mrs Harrison mentioned.

www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-ten-point-plan-for-a-green-industrial-revolution

The facts are, WCM coking coal (industrial coal) is not destined for the UK market; UK steel makers can’t use it, too much sulphur and they are phasing out their blast furnaces anyway. So Whitehaven coal will not slash (Trudy’s words) UK imports it will instead add to global coal stocks and further pollution when it is exported. Because Whitehaven coal is to be sold to an agent, WCM have no say where this coal will end up, steel makers or power stations, coal for sale. 

She adds that the planning process is a democratic one, implying that my objecting makes me undemocratic. I am 100% certain that if this coal mine was placed directly in Mrs Harrison’s back yard she would have a very different opinion. I am quite happy with my choice, thank you and will continue to object to this diabolical plan as is my democratic right.

She went on about the need to buy and produce British steel using British coal to make electric cars, nuclear power stations, wind turbines, factories etc because it is “morally” wrong and economically ludicrous to import coal. I can’t see how this coal mine fully accords with the Government’s 10 point Green Industrial Revolution, maybe I am just a Dumbrian?

More pearls of wisdom from our politicians on the Channel4 news report  at the beginning of last year, linked below for you.

Notably is, Mr Mike Starkie, Copeland Mayor talks about the mine being in the poorest area of the country and life opportunity jobs available; for the poorest in our community. Mrs Trudy Harrison ‘ has a common sense approach’ ??

https://www.channel4.com/news/council-approves-plans-to-build-first-deep-coal-mine-for-30-years

So why has WCM gone to all this effort and investment? Where other mining companies have gone before and given up, WCM persist.  WCM has almost halved the coal mines production life span, down to the next 28 years. 100s of planning conditions to plough through and they still want to build their coal mine. 

It seems we may have indication as to why? WCM’s vision of a coal mine extending into radioactive waste management and a Geological Disposal Facility? Coincidentally, the time frame given to debate and find a suitable site in Copeland and build the GDF is about 20 years.

Picture from Haig Pit Museum, Whitehaven

I remember looking at this model of Haig Pit on my visit to the museum years ago. If this model is anything to go by,  is it really a good idea to be digging out millions of tonnes of coal through geological faults; and (potentially) the storage of radioactive waste.

Three facts for you. 1) Coal was created through seismic activity 2) Mining causes earthquakes, a proven fact. 3) the Solway region is seismically active.

The modern mining technology rapidly strips out a seam of coal, creating large voids. Creating large voids and venting gases is asking for trouble, it is bound to unbalance the geological forces off our shores. Yet Cumbria Council have been told by experts that the risks are acceptable. Does that then make Cumbria Council responsible if my worst fears materialise. Such arrogance to think our technology can control Mother Nature. 

Come on Mr Jenrick – let’s have another Conservative U-turn. The planet has a carbon budget and it’s getting smaller. Change your Mind – Call in this coal mine and Keep the Coal in the Hole



Update 8

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole

Jan. 8, 2021

Bad News & Good News! TAKE ACTION

 

Dear Friends,

THANKS TO ALL who are donating and sharing, writing and campaigning - without you this mine would already be underway!!  We have delayed it repeatedly,  now we need to stop it.

The Bad News!

Robert Jenrick MP the Communities Secretary has decided not to call in the County Council's Yes vote for a public inquiry.  

The Good News!

The UK and Ireland Nuclear Free Local Authorities have put their weight behind our campaign by urging Cumbria County Council to reconsider the impact of the expected subsidence of the Irish Sea bed and resuspension of the decades worth of radioactive wastes from Sellafield which are currently embedded in the silts of the Cumbrian Mud Patch.

Our fight against the mine continues and there are a couple of ACTIONS  people can take right now.

1.  Write to Cumbria County Council urging them to take the advice of the UK and Ireland Nuclear Free Local Authorities and to reconsider the impact of the expected subsidence of the Irish Sea bed and resuspension of the decades worth of radioactive wastes from Sellafield  which are currently embedded in the silts of the Cumbrian Mud Patch.  On Radio Cumbria's Mike Zeller show of the 7th January Cumbria County Council were quoted as saying that the radioactive risks of induced seismicity and subsidence are acceptable.   This is an outrageous abdication of the Council's responsibility to the public's health and safety.  Ask Cumbria County Council not to issue a final Decision Notice but to take this opportunity to reconsider the expected subsidence and radioactive impacts of this coal mine.  A Template Letter is below - please do write in your own words - there are many reasons why the Council should not issue a Decision Notice - as well as the radioactive impacts there are the climate impacts too.

2.  We are looking at a new legal challenge on radioactive impacts of this coal mine. As before, all monies go direct to top lawyers Leigh Day who have already successfully repeatedly delayed the plan.  The legal challenge would be in my name on behalf of Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole

- Please do share ........and if you can (I know times are so tough) .....please donate.  

DONATE HERE - HELP STOP THE CUMBRIAN COAL MINE

 With All Very Best Wishes

Marianne


TEMPLATE LETTER (for inspiration) 

EMAIL Geoffrey.Cook@cumbria.gov.uk

Dear Councillor Geoff Cook 

Woodhouse Colliery Application Reference No. 4/17/9007

Thank you for voting against the amended coal mine plan.  I have heard that the Secretary of State will not be calling this decision in for a public inquiry.  I would be very grateful if Cumbria County Council would take the advice of the UK and Ireland Nuclear Free Local Authorities and reconsider the impact of the expected subsidence of the Irish Sea bed and resuspension of the decades worth of radioactive wastes from Sellafield (currently embedded in the silts of the Cumbrian Mud Patch).  On Radio Cumbria's Mike Zeller show of the 7th January 2021 Cumbria County Council were quoted as saying that the radioactive risks of induced seismicity and subsidence are acceptable.   This would seem to be an abdication of the Council's responsibility to the public's health and safety.  Please ensure that Cumbria County Council do not issue a final Decision Notice until the expected subsidence and radioactive impacts of this coal mine have been fully considered,  including the ongoing internal review into Sellafield's Freedom of Information response regarding the Responsibility for Radioactive Wastes on the Irish Sea Bed.

Thank you

Yours sincerely,

 name:

address:

.....

Copy sent to Leader of Cumbria County Council Stuart Young Stewart.Young@cumbria.gov.uk

Update 7

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole

Jan. 5, 2021

Lesson from History?

Thank you so much to everyone sharing and donating to Help Stop the Cumbrian Coal Mine.

The following is from an ongoing comic book I have been wasting ink and time on for some years now - the doodles are primarily for my own thoughts and "sanity' and it is semi-autobiographical  - but I thought this was an apt page to share - it follows from my experience of the Councillors laughing when I talked about the liquefaction at Rampside due to a very small earthquake in 1865 - I was making the point that extraction of fossil fuels under the Irish Sea bed so near to Sellafield, the world's riskiest nuclear waste site is madness (notwithstanding that it is madness to keep extracting fossil fuels anyway!) 

Thank you once again to all of you climate activists and those who can see (and do not try to divorce) the nuclear madness of this plan - thank you to all who are joining in the battle to stop this coal mine with all its associated and very real risks to life on this planet.

Update 6

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole

Dec. 27, 2020

£1 Bargain Buy for Coal Mine Developers



£1 BARGAIN BUY FOR COAL MINE DEVELOPERS!

Our  Christmas competition to win an “iconic Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole badge and hand-made felted puffin”reveals that in November 2020 the coal mine developers West Cumbria Mining paid just £1 for the Haig Mining Museum and surrounding land.

Our Competition said: 

"The coast of West Cumbria and the Irish Sea which cradles it, is such an important home to increasingly rare sea-birds – including the black guillemot. The little puffin can even occasionally be seen frequenting this area.

To Win the Badge and the Puffin please answer the following question:

HOW MUCH DID WEST CUMBRIA MINING PAY FOR THE HAIG MINING MUSEUM BUILDINGS AND LAND ?" 


The winning answer of £1 was by Leigh Puddifoot of West Cumbria who is delighted with the little puffin.  Congratulations to Leigh!  


We found it so utterly incredible that West Cumbria Mining paid just £1 for the previously publicly owned land and buildings at the Haig,  that we just had to run a Christmas competition.  The Haig Museum was built and run with over £2.5M of public money through the Heritage Lottery and Copeland Borough Council. According to their website the Land Trust owned the land ie it was in public ownership while  the Haig Mining Museum itself was shaping up to be an important community hub with Christmas parties for local groups and much needed events for youngsters. So to hand over the lot, lock stock and barrel for £1 to coal mine developers (who also have an interest in Geological Disposal of Nuclear Wastes under the Irish Sea)  is truly incredible.  

The Land Trust's website still states " The Colourful Coast, spanning Whitehaven to St Bees and taking in Haig, is now managed for wildlife and recreation and is home to thousands of breeding sea birds including puffins, black guillemots, razorbills and gulls. Haig, owned by the Land Trust and managed by the National Trust on its behalf, was once the site of Cumbria’s largest coal producing pit Haig colliery, whose tunnels reach 4.5 miles out under the Solway Firth and the Irish Sea. The public can now explore more of this amazing coastline on foot than ever before, thanks to Open Access land, new permissive paths and the Public Rights of Way network."

What adds insult to injury is that West Cumbria Mining have put paperwork in place (witnessed by a “bartender”)  to ensure that when the coal mine plan goes belly up, the former Land Trust land and buildings of the Haig,  on this Colourful Coast would not go to creditors but to protected unnamed persons in EMR Capital’s Cayman Islands accounts…

.....we assume that this is all perfectly legal (?!) 

But it is not, by any stretch of the imagination, in any way fair.


CONGRATULATIONS to all those who guessed right that this land - which was in the ownership of the public-  was sold for the pittance of £1 to West Cumbria Mining.


Notes- Previous Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole analysis - 

https://keepcumbriancoalinthehole.wordpress.com/2020/12/16/ghost-of-christmas-future/



Update 5

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole

Dec. 18, 2020

Christmas Competition!! Win a Puffin!!!

Dear Friends,

CHRISTMAS COMPETITION !! 

WIN AN ICONIC BADGE AND HAND-MADE FELTED PUFFIN

Many thanks to all who keep sharing and donating to our new challenge to the first deep coal mine in the UK in decades.  

We have a brilliant Christmas competition in which you can win one of our iconic "Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole and Nuclear Waste Out!" badges and also a beautiful little hand-made felted Puffin.  This little Puffin has actually gone walkabout on the "Colourful Coast!"

The coast of West Cumbria and the Irish Sea which cradles it, is such an important home to increasingly rare sea-birds - including the black guillemot. The little puffin can even occasionally be seen frequenting this area.

To Win the Badge and the Puffin please answer the following question:

HOW MUCH DID WEST CUMBRIA MINING PAY FOR THE HAIG MINING MUSEUM BUILDINGS AND LAND ? 

The first person to answer correctly will be the Winner!

Send your answers to Wastwater @ protonmail.com   (close the gaps!) with the subject heading :  Puffin


GOOD LUCK!!






Update 4

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole

Dec. 6, 2020

Hurray - First Hurdle Reached...


Dear Friends,


Hurray!  We have reached our first hurdle and now have the means to look at a legal challenge with the help of top lawyers Leigh Day.  Thank you very much to all who have been sharing and donating.  The response so far has been truly remarkable and generous.


I have drawn a quick map to show just how under threat the Irish Sea is. There are individual 'official' maps of all these things, Coal Mine plan, Marine Conservation Zone, Cumbrian Mud Patch and Geological Disposal Facility ‘possible’ site -  but this is the first time all the elements have been put together on one (felt tip pen!) map. 


 It seems that the much hyped Marine Conservation Zone status, which is supposed to act as “protection” for the Irish Sea coastal zone, counts for zilch when big business with big vested interests and political/industrial lobbyists are involved.  The regulatory bodies have rolled over despite the “protected status” and Cumbria County Council have rolled with them.  How ironic that one of the first voices calling this horrible coal mine out was not the conservation bodies who have campaigned vigorously for the protection of the Irish Sea coastal area of Cumbria, but the North Western Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority.  The very industry that the Marine Conservation Zones were designed to protect the sea from overfishing, were the first ones calling this mad bad coal mine plan out.


The map also shows the insane plan for a geological disposal facility for heat generating nuclear wastes.  The Irish Sea is under threat from this too with the new push to find a “willing community” who will roll over with the offer of ongoing “compensation” - or to use the vernacular - bribes  (with public money).   The definition of “community” has not been revealed and although the Chief Executive Officer of West Cumbria Mining has said “the coal mine has nothing to do with GDF plans” the circumstantial evidence that it is indeed linked is there to see.


The CEO of West Cumbria Mining is giving a talk in March 2021 (see below)- not about the coal mine you understand but about the government plans to get shot of the heat generating nuclear wastes which have been stacking up at Sellafield over several decades, ( in order to make more of them with new civil/military nuclear build from Hinkley, BAE et al.)  The coal boss’s business interests (not confined to coal) would likely be first in line for the eye watering nuclear waste big bucks courtesy of the public purse. 


This coal mine is more than meets the eye -and what meets the eye is shocking enough - 3 million tonnes of coal every year being mined out under the Irish Sea and shunted through the complex geology of the “protected Marine Conservation Zone” for decades to come? 


Thanks to you we still have a chance to stop this coal mine (and maybe much else besides!) 


With all best wishes


Marianne


“Old King Coal dug a great big hole

Under the Irish Sea.

Said it was Green

and the Mayor was Keen

Even Sellafield Loved it too”



https://www.sciencediscoverygroup.co.uk/future-talks

"Development of a Deep Geological Disposal Facility for Nuclear Waste in the UK

Mark Kirkbride, Member on the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM)

15th March 2021 7:30pm by Zoom

Since the late 1940’s the UK has been involved in nuclear science and engineering, with the creation of waste being an integral part of that industry.  There has been significant focus upon long-term storage and disposal of this nuclear waste inventory.  The talk will seek to explain the types of nuclear waste, historical background and work towards the development of a deep geological disposal facility in the UK for disposal of nuclear waste."

note: Mark Kirkbride is also the CEO of West Cumbria Mining

Update 3

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole

Dec. 1, 2020

The Nuclear Madness of Old King Coal


Dear Friends,


Many thanks to everyone who is donating and sharing this crowdjustice fundraiser.  We still need to raise a couple of hundred to enable us to go forward with the first stage of a legal challenge.  PLEASE let people know about the crowdfunder - I know these are such difficult times for everyone but I would not be doing this if it was not so very important to not only the health of the environment but also directly to the health of the public.  

One the most visceral reasons we want to challenge this coal mine is not only  on climate grounds (though the fossil fuel mined out would be so damaging)  but on the very real and unavoidable radiological damage. The area of seabed below which the mine would be situated is the area in which most of the wastes discharged from Sellafield are languishing in the silts.  

The developers themselves say that subsidence of this area would be unavoidable if the mine proceeds.  This would release the decades of Sellafield's discharge wastes into the Irish Sea and onto the beaches of Cumbria.  Wastes from Sellafield have been found as far away as the Arctic.

We have been trying to find out just who is responsible for the decades of Radioactive Wastes on the "Cumbrian Mud Patch."   After many Freedom of Information requests and finger pointing by the authorities - Sellafield suggested it was not them but the Environment Agency who would be responsible .  In all the years the coal mine plan has been rumbling on The Environment Agency have not to my knowledge fielded any concerns regarding the radioactive wastes on the sea bed. 

Here is their reply to our questions.  It is truly scary - and even describes the resulting resuspension of radioactive wastes following subsidence of the Irish Sea bed as a "natural process."  Our questions are in Italics below - their answers follow..

Please help stop this coal mine which is so much worse than the sum of its parts.


From the Environment Agency...

Dear Marianne

Enquiry regarding responsibility for safety of radioactive wastes on the Cumbrian mud patch

Thank you for your enquiry which we received on 16 November 2020.

We respond to requests under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and Environmental Information Regulations 2004.

Answers to your questions are as follows.

Who is responsible for the decades of radioactive discharge on the "Cumbrian Mud Patch"?

There are a number of sites that have permitted discharges into the Irish Sea in England, Scotland and Wales. The dominant sources of radioactive discharges along the Cumbrian coast are from Sellafield Ltd (and its predecessors) and, in the past, naturally occurring radioactive materials from a former phosphate processing plant near Whitehaven in Cumbria. The Environment Agency regulates the discharge of radioactive waste into the environment by Sellafield Ltd in accordance with an environmental permit. The conditions in this permit are designed to protect people and the environment by ensuring that any radiation exposure that may result from such discharges is kept below legal radiation dose limits. For example, the environmental permit requires Sellafield Ltd to monitor radiation levels from its site discharges, including discharges to sea, and any effects of radioactivity on the environment. Sellafield Ltd publishes an annual discharge and environmental monitoring report. We conduct independent environmental monitoring which is published in the Radioactivity in Food and Environment report series: https://www.gov.uk/government/publicatio....
Further details about how we regulate the site and how monitoring is carried out is available at this link: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/sellafield-n...

In the likely event of subsidence following mined out voids beneath the Cumbrian Mud Patch who would be accountable for the plutonium and other radioactive wastes which would be resuspended into the sea and returned to the coastal areas with the tides?

If resuspension from the ‘Cumbrian Mud Patch’ occurs as part of natural processes, the monitoring programmes conducted by Sellafield Ltd and ourselves will ensure that we keep any changes in radioactivity levels in the environment under review. You may be interested in the attached scientific paper which provides further information on the likely impact of storm surges. We are not in a position to comment on the impact of mining on the Irish Sea bed (see next question).

Would that responsibility for allowing the coal mine to induce subsidence of the Cumbrian Mud Patch and resulting resuspension of radioactive wastes lie with the Environment Agency?


The integrity of any coal mining operation will be regulated by the Health and Safety Executive and the Coal Authority.

Please refer to Open Government Licence which explains the permitted use of this information.

Please get in touch if you have any further queries or contact us within two months if you’d like us to review the information we have sent.

Yours sincerely,

Customers and Engagement Team
Cumbria and Lancashire


Update 2

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole

Nov. 23, 2020

UNITE the UNION URGED TO OPPOSE COAL MINE IN CUMBRIA

Many thanks to all who have been donating and sharing this crowdfunder to challenge the first deep coal mine in the UK in decades.  Please keep sharing - it is not a done deal and we CAN stop this coal mine.

Unite the Union has been asked by Radiation Free Lakeland to oppose the coal mine.  

The letter sent to UNITE is below...

Dear UNITE,

We are a volunteer nuclear safety group in Cumbria.  We have been opposing the proposed coal mine under the Irish Sea since 2017 on both climate and nuclear impacts.  We are very concerned that Unite is supporting this plan.  

The mine would be directly beneath the decades worth of reprocessing radioactive wastes on the Irish Sea bed, discharged from Sellafield.  

The County Council in approving the mine said that subsidence of the sea bed would be “unavoidable” but that they thought it could be suitably mitigated for.  We agree that subsidence of the Irish Sea bed would be “unavoidable” however we do not agree that it would be possible to mitigate against the resuspension of plutonium and other radioactive wastes from the Irish sea bed into the water column and back to the beaches.  

Research has shown that dried resuspended radioactive particles can travel at least 10 miles inland.   Its worth repeating that the coal mine would be highly likely to cause resuspension of decades worth of radioactive wastes.  While UNITE members who work at Sellafield have to accept the known risk of radiation linked diseases from their occupation at least they have a Compensation Scheme for occupational radiation damage.   

The public which includes the family members of UNITE  would have no such Compensation scheme to “compensate”  from radiation damage resulting from the resuspension of decades of Sellafield discharges which are now on the Irish Sea bed.   Children and women are most at risk from radiation damage.

Included here are recent relevant reports including:

Risk of Lung Cancer Mortality in Nuclear Workers from Internal Exposure to Alpha Particle-emitting Radionuclides – Author James Grellier https://journals.lww.com/epidem/Fulltext/2017/09000/Risk_of_Lung_Cancer_Mortality_in_Nuclear_Workers.7.aspx

“Conclusions: We found strong evidence for associations between low doses from alpha-emitters and lung cancer risk. The excess OR/Gy was greater for plutonium than uranium, though confidence intervals overlap. Risk estimates were similar to those estimated previously in plutonium workers, and in uranium miners exposed to radon and its progeny. Expressed as risk/equivalent dose in sieverts (Sv), our estimates are somewhat larger than but consistent with those for atomic bomb survivors.”    


A briefing paper by Tim Deere-Jones. WEST CUMBRIA MINING: WOODHOUSE COLLIERY PROPOSAL RADIOLOGICAL IMPLICATIONS of POTENTIAL SEABED SUBSIDENCE SEISMICITY & “FAULT RE-ACTIVATION” beneath The CUMBRIAN MUD PATCH: INDUCED BY “MASS REMOVAL”, RAPID EXTRACTION & VOID SPACE CREATION.

Controls on anthropogenic radionuclide distribution in the Sellafield-impacted Eastern Irish Sea – Author Daisy Ray   https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969720342893

Radiation Free Lakeland very much hope that UNITE will oppose this coal mine which would cause damage to public health way beyond the more talked about climate change concerns.  The burden on  the NHS with regard radiation linked diseases would be increased manyfold should this coal mine go ahead – the most affected are the most vulnerable.

Yours sincerely

Marianne Birkby

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole – a Radiation Free Lakeland campaign


Update 1

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole

Nov. 17, 2020

Big Thank You To All Donating and Sharing!!

"Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole and Nuclear Waste Out"

Big Thanks to ALL donating and sharing.  We are off to a great start in being able to take on a new challenge against what must be the most outrageous coal mine ever conceived.  To mine out a massive void for coal just five miles from Sellafield and directly below decades worth of radioactive wastes on the Irish Sea bed is beyond reckless to the health of all life on this planet.

The picture is of one of the statues in Whitehaven which have been taking part in an ongoing "Jogging Protest."   You can read about The Jogger's interesting and informative runs......

Whitehaven is the inspiration for Gulliver's Travels?

 I am going to follow in the footsteps of Wainwright’s Coast 2 Coast

Mr Kirkbride told us the mine has nothing to do with any GDF.

Onwards and Upwards!!

Get updates about this case

Subscribe to receive email updates from the case owner on the latest news about the case.

    There are no public comments on this case page.