by South Lakes Action on Climate Change - towards transition


by South Lakes Action on Climate Change - towards transition
South Lakes Action on Climate Change - towards transition
Case Owner
SLACC is a Cumbrian environmental and community support charity. Maggie Mason, our lead on this case, is a SLACC member and an ex minerals and waste planning officer.
on 14th January 2021
pledged of £50,000 stretch target from 1685 pledges
South Lakes Action on Climate Change - towards transition
Case Owner
SLACC is a Cumbrian environmental and community support charity. Maggie Mason, our lead on this case, is a SLACC member and an ex minerals and waste planning officer.

Latest: Jan. 2, 2023

PLEASE go to our ACTIVE CrowdJustice Page -

The ONLY WAY to reverse the Cumbria Coal Mine Planning Consent (granted by Michael Gove on the 6th December 2022) is a Statutory Review.. We have started the process and need FUNDS.  


Read more

We are in a Climate Emergency, 

2020 was the joint hottest year on record. Average global surface temperatures rose to 1.25 degrees C (above the pre-industrial period of 1850-1900)  dangerously close to the 1.5C target set by the world’s nations to avoid the worst impacts. The Guardian - 8 .1.2021 {1}

 “Global emissions will need to be brought down to net zero within about the next 30 years if global warming is to be limited to 1.5C.” Prof Richard Betts: UK Met Office.

But Cumbria County Council has decided that a new deep coal mine, extracting nearly 3 million tonnes of coking coal, every year until 2050 will reduce global emissions! The UK Government seems to agree, as  Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for planning issues, has refused to "call in" the application  {2}  so there will be no Public Inquiry, and the local Council can proceed with the permission.

 It is still possible to stop the mine, and we urgently need your help to pursue a Judicial Review (JR) of Cumbria's decision.

Why this decision must be challenged

The principles at stake are huge, with global implications. The coal from the mine would release 9 million tonnes of carbon emissions every year until 2050. The UK Government is currently exhorting other nations to commit to steep emissions cuts by 2030 to meet Paris Agreement obligations to try to keep global temperature rises to 1.5 degrees. Even the emissions from the mining operations, including "fugitive methane" appear to breach the UK's new commitment to reduce emissions by 68% by 2030 {3). Approval of this mine  in 2021, the year of COP26 , will demolish the credibility of the UK's "climate leadership" and encourage other nations to adopt toothless and hypocritical targets, while emissions continue to rise.

Greta Thunberg hit the nail on the head.  "The UK government has decided not to intervene with the plans of opening a brand new English coal mine. This really shows the true meaning of so called “net zero 2050”. These vague, insufficient targets long into the future basically mean nothing today". Greta Thunberg { 4}  

Cumbria's own young people agree, and so does Professor Mike Berners-Lee, author of "How Bad are Bananas", and "The Burning Question". Amy Bray (18) and Mike both spoke to Border TV after Robert Jenrick's decision was announced. {5}

South Lakes Action on Climate Change (SLACC) already submitted detailed evidence and legally coherent arguments that this planning application should have been refused, even under current planning law and UK carbon reduction obligations. Three senior councillors on the planning committee agreed with us. 

Our legal team are currently re-assessing  potential grounds for Judicial Review as the first stage in a legal challenge. 

How much money is needed ?

We know there are thousands of ordinary people who understand that fossil fuels must stay in the ground if we are to avoid, (or at least reduce) the catastrophe for people and planet that is already unfolding. Some of you may be members of environmental groups who also objected to the Coal Mine application, but have now forwarded this link to you because they support this last chance to stop the Cumbria Coal Mine.   

Our initial target of £10,000 in the next 30 days is ambitious, but we need to apply to the courts within 6 weeks of the Council's decision. As part of that we need our barrister to assess the chances of success and our solicitors to prepare the case and represent us in court.

Please make a donation and share the link via social media and word of mouth..

 If Covid -19 is causing financial hardship please do not give more than you can afford. There are thousands of us

If we are granted permission to mount the JR, we may need as much as £40,000 more. We will update the target at that point.

Is a legal challenge likely to succeed?

Judicial Review of a decision is not based on a re-examination of the issues, but a decision can be unlawful if, for example, advice to the Councillors who make the decision is based on incorrect assumptions, contrary to the evidence available to the Council officers.  

We will have a clear idea when we receive our "Counsel's Opinion", but our legal team has been with us for 2 years, and they already have an in depth view of the case. We know that it is worth continuing on this next step.

SLACC's arguments to date.

The detailed technical comments and evidence SLACC have submitted  are on our website {6} but the  brief summary  below touches on some of the issues we have raised to date. Our legal team will be looking carefully at all these issues (and more) in the coming weeks.

The coal is said to be for European steel making, and Cumbria County Councils Planning Officers Report {7}rested on the mining companies claim that the need for coking coal in Europe would persist at the 2020 level until 2050, and that all the coal extracted would replace or "substitute" the equivalent amount from US mines (i.e. that US mines would close down once this mine opened). SLACC and many other objectors pointed out that US mines would seek new markets rather than close in order to gain some income from investment already committed.

The County Council admitted that the end use emissions of the coal were relevant but used the “substitution claim” to reach the extraordinary conclusion that the mine would lead to lower global emissions, a “Carbon Negative Coal Mine”. The Council’s argument was based on claimed savings in emissions from using UK coal instead of importing it from the US or Australia. 

SLACC disputed these claims, providing evidence from steel industry experts at the Materials Processing Institute (MPI)  and Professor Paul Ekins, a leading resource economist {8}

 Professor Ekins showed that a surplus of coal will reduce prices, increasing coal use and emissions further dis-incentivising decarbonisation of the steel industry , while MPI showed that lower carbon " greener " steel making methods that use much less (or no ) coal will significantly reduce the need for coal by 2030{7}.

The Council recognised that West Cumbria’s proposal to extract coal until 2070 was unreasonable but settled on an expiry date of December 2049.  SLACC argued that this did not fit the evidence, and that UK and global emissions need to reduce much more steeply if UK carbon obligations are to be met.

SLACC submitted a second objection on the 1st October 2020 {9}, and summarised the case against the mine in a statement to the County Council’s decision making committee on 2nd October 2020 {10)

We have argued that West Cumbria does need jobs, based a Green New Deal, but this mine will impact on Tourism, and the economic renaissance that is so badly needed.



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 20

South Lakes Action on Climate Change - towards transition

Jan. 2, 2023

PLEASE go to our ACTIVE CrowdJustice Page -

The ONLY WAY to reverse the Cumbria Coal Mine Planning Consent (granted by Michael Gove on the 6th December 2022) is a Statutory Review.. We have started the process and need FUNDS.

Update 19

South Lakes Action on Climate Change - towards transition

Dec. 8, 2022


Michael Gove approved the mine , releasing the decision email just after 6pm on Wednesday 7th December 2022. 

SLACC Trustees have asked our legal team to assess whether there are reasonable grounds to pursue a legal challenge of the decision. This will need money!

The new Fundraising Page is at   It should go "Live" on Thursday morning. Please give generously and share the link with your networks. 

It is very unfair that a small charity like SLACC should have to bear this burden, but we have seen how many people and organisations who are outraged by the approval of a new coal mine in the UK, and do not believe that the mine is needed, or beneficial locally, nationally or globally.

SLACC and our legal team have a deep knowledge of planning law and the details of the case, and cannot stand back from this responsibility. Please join us.

Update 18

South Lakes Action on Climate Change - towards transition

Dec. 6, 2022

Today or tomorrow! Decision time for the mine?

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) "pulled" their decision on the West Cumbria Coal Mine the day before Rishi Sunak travelled to Egypt for COP27.  The new deadline is 7th December and we are all waiting for Michael Gove to announce his decision.

The Sun and Net Zero Watch are still rooting for Michael Gove to approve the mine.

However, Alok Sharma in the Guardian and senior UK steel industry figures on Channel 4 have spoken out against the mine. Our friends at Friends of the Earth have been getting the word out too, as have Green Alliance. What do you think?

Depending on the advice from our legal team, SLACC will start a new CrowdJustice campaign to support a legal challenge. Please look out for another email or follow us on @slactt

If you use Twitter and hear the decision is out, you might like to post a picture of yourself with a small placard saying how you feel. Maybe make two in advance - a celebration if the mine is refused!  Suggested Twitter text  "I reject the Whitehaven coal mine". Reference @luhc   #StopCoalNow  and or friends at @CoalActionUK 

Update 17

South Lakes Action on Climate Change - towards transition

Nov. 2, 2022

Decision Delayed until After COP27

The coal mine decision will be delayed until "on or before" the 8th December 2022. In other words after COP27 closes on the 18th November. 

Is this a cynical move to avoid criticism just as Rishi Sunak says he will attend COP27, or a genuine openness to refusing the mine given the accelerating climate emergency and the astonishing progress of green steel in Europe? Check out the SLACC webpage for more information, especially the the most recent blog post (2nd November.)

If the coal mine planning application is approved SLACC will carefully consider the decision and it's reasoning. If necessary we will start a new CrowdJustice Case to raise money for a Judicial Review. Do sign up for updates if you want to be kept informed. Also follow @slacctt for quicker responses. 

Update 16

South Lakes Action on Climate Change - towards transition

Oct. 22, 2021


Whilst we would be unwise to predict what the Inspector will recommend in his report to Michael Gove (Secretary of State for Levelling up, Housing and Communities), or Mr Gove’s final decision on the mine, we are confident that our input to the inquiry, and the media discussion it has instigated, have made a significant contribution to both national and global opposition to new fossil fuel development.

 SLACC, supported by FOE, has made some powerful points which are likely to precipitate stronger legal provisions to stop future coal mines, and, we hope, effective decarbonisation of the steel industry, one of the two most significant GHG emitting sectors of the global economy.

·         SLACC evidence to the Inquiry has uncovered the reality behind WCM’s attempt to extract and sell high sulphur Cumbrian coal that would have been exported to Asia, causing SO2  pollution and GHG emissions from steel plants that are not restricted by UK and EU pollution and binding carbon reduction targets.  

·        Our evidence also forced WCMs expert advisers to admit that, in their predictions of ongoing markets for coking coal, they are “gambling” on the failure of binding UK and EU climate reduction targets. This shocking revelation has echoes across the globe, and we have helped to bring this fact out into the open.

 ·         Evidence presented at the Inquiry also forced WCM to seek new advisers, who very clearly stated that Carbon Capture and Storage for coal-based steel plants is both technically difficult and expensive, and that increased steel recycling is the best option for decarbonisation, followed by replacement of coking coal with hydrogen.

 ·         SLACC pushed WCM to revise the methane capture scheme and S106 agreement, which they argued,  would make it a “net zero coal” mine making.  FOE’s co-ordinated evidence on carbon offsetting then destroyed the offset pretence on the residual operational emissions.

 ·         The last, and vitally important body of evidence presented, was on the “100% substitution myth”, used by so many fossil fuel extractors to argue that there would be no additional GHG emissions caused by their developments.  SLACC’s expert witness made the economic case, showing opening of the mine would increase the global extraction and use of fossil fuels.  The detailed argument, specific to global coal markets, was presented by FOE's witness.

Update 15

South Lakes Action on Climate Change - towards transition

Sept. 30, 2021


Paul Brown, the Barrister for Friends of The Earth is scheduled to start his Closing Statement at about 1pm. It might be later, because the discussion on planning conditions in the morning may "overrun". Estelle Dehon for SLACC may start at about 2.30, followed by West Cumbria Mining. Watch the Inquiry on Youtube as the final scenes play out. 

The team at SLACC is hoping that we will not be too far "out of pocket" when our last few invoices come in, but are keeping this fundraising page open for now in case!  Watch this space!

Update 14

South Lakes Action on Climate Change - towards transition

Sept. 7, 2021

1st day of Public Inquiry “Our house is on fire”!

The first morning of the Public Inquiry on the Coal Mine heard powerful opening statements from FOE and SLACC barristers, with compelling planning reasons to refuse the mine, and hints of the climate change evidence which both charities will be presenting over the next few weeks.

Estelle Dehon, appearing for SLACC, also referred to the latest “Rebuttal Statement” from WCM to argue that there is a need for their coal. Newly submitted this morning (!) , their expert on coal admits that they could sell the coal to Japan, and discussed the need for coal in India. Catch up on YouTube .

The Inquiry will last at least 4 weeks, with evidence on the need being heard for the coal next week (Tuesday 14th  to Friday 17th). Climate Change Evidence will be heard the following week (Tuesday 21st to Friday 24th September) 

Update 13

South Lakes Action on Climate Change - towards transition

Sept. 1, 2021

The Truth about the Coal Mine

SLACC expert witnesses have now submitted "Rebuttal Statements" to the Planning Inspectorate. These point out the failings in West Cumbria Mining's "Proofs of Evidence", and explain why this coal is not needed, that the mine would have ecological impacts, and West Cumbria job seekers are very unlikely to get good jobs at the mine. 

So many thanks to our Expert Witnesses, our legal team , and most of all, our supporters. More news soon!

Update 12

South Lakes Action on Climate Change - towards transition

Aug. 12, 2021


Amazing co-operation and hard work from our pro-bono expert witnesses, legal team and our planning consultant, got SLACCs main evidence into the Public Inquiry just in time.  BUT, delays, uncertainty and amended information from the coal mine company are probably going to increase our costs more.

A big thank you to all donors. We don't need more money at the moment, because an anonymous donor has boosted our CrowdJustice  donations to give us a reasonable budget. SLACC can try to claim costs from West Cumbria Mining if their delays or behaviour are to blame. However, we will keep this CrowdJustice page open until the final decision. We will use it to update our donors, and in case we need more help to pursue this vital case to the bitter end. 

The latest IPCC report is grim reading, but contains no surprises to our supporters. The predictions still; don't include recent extreme events; and rely on unproven ideas to draw CO2 out of the atmosphere. It is Code Red for humanity. This coal mine is not needed, and should not be given planning permission.

Documents submitted to the Public Inquiry, including all SLACCs expert witness evidence, will be uploaded to our website over the next week.

Update 11

South Lakes Action on Climate Change - towards transition

June 9, 2021

Urgent call to reach our £50,000 target!

 SLACC really needs to meet our £50,000 fundraising target in the next 2 weeks. Can you help?  The world does not need any more coal mines, not even coking coal for steel,  but West Cumbria Mining's legal team are pressing ahead to try and win permission for their new Coal Mine at the Public Inquiry this September.  

SLACC 's legal team stopped planning consent being granted in January this year, and forced the Government to hold a Public Inquiry. The local planning authority are staying "neutral" and will not submit any evidence or witnesses (for or against the mine). This leaves all the responsibility on two charities, us (South Lakes Action on Climate Change) and Friends of the Earth (FOE) who are also registered to have a central role in the Public Inquiry.  

Please help SLACC to keep our brilliant legal team working, and present a good enough case against the mine. Donate if you can, and share to your social media networks. See below for ideas. Thank you !

Further information.

1. See our campaign website for Statements of Case and other documents. 

2. Sample tweet? (and DM @slacctt to let us know you're on board)

"Not heard much on #WestCumbria coal mine recently? @slacctt is working furiously to prepare for September's #PublicInquiry that'll decide if mining goes ahead. Help Cumbrian volunteer group, @slacctt, pay the legal fees to win this & finally stop this mine:"

3. Sample Facebook post

This looks futuristic, but it can't be our future: it would just be dirty, dusty coal under a tent. SLACC, the Cumbrian campaign group, is gearing up for the big showdown this September at the Public Inquiry. Don’t let West Cumbria Mining Ltd sweep the dust under the rug by helping SLACC fund the legal experts needed to win this and permanently stop this application. Please donate/share:

Update 10

South Lakes Action on Climate Change - towards transition

May 7, 2021

SLACC's case against the Coal Mine

Our "Statement of Case" has now been submitted to the Planning Inspectorate and the next important milestone will be the "Case Conference" on the 7th June.   Thanks to everyone for your support, and to our legal team and expert witnesses.

Cumbria County Council has decided to take a "neutral stance" and  the Council's Statement of Case largely consists of the history of the planning application and the planning policies that they believe are relevant. 

 West Cumbria Mining's Statement of Case can be seen here. The work goes on!!!

Update 9

South Lakes Action on Climate Change - towards transition

April 30, 2021

Expert Witnesses now helping final preparation of our case!

SLACC is so grateful to the expert witnesses who have agreed to give evidence for SLACC at the Public Inquiry, and nearly 1,000 donors who given money through this CrowdJustice page. The legal team and the SLACC team are all working hard to prepare our Statement of Case, but also have been encouraging other people to put in an objection before the 6th May. If this is your first visit to the page, please consider making a donation. SLACC will present the best case we can, within the resources we have, so every little bit helps. !! Visit the SLACC website for advice on objecting to the Coal Mine yourself.

Update 8

South Lakes Action on Climate Change - towards transition

April 18, 2021

Please help us to reach the £50,000 Stretch Target!

SLACC are now a "Rule 6 Party"  at the Public Inquiry that will be held in September  to consider the planning application for the Cumbria Coal Mine.  The Public hearing for the Inquiry will last at least 3 weeks, possibly more , and the professional support we need costs money! We need to reach our £50,000 target. If you have not donated before, please consider doing so, and spread the word to your friends. We have identified some excellent "expert witnesses" , and are preparing our "Statement of Case" to submit to the Planning Inspectorate in early May.  Public support has got us this far... Please donate if you are able.. and Thank YOU.

Update 7

South Lakes Action on Climate Change - towards transition

March 26, 2021

PUBLIC INQUIRY will start on 7th SEPTEMBER 2021

SLACC is now getting ready to take part in the Public Inquiry. We will need lots of time from our legal team to maintain this effort,  and expert witnesses to speak truth into the "smokes and mirrors" employed to prolong business as usual, and the use of old polluting technologies. 

Coal mining may be remembered with nostalgia by some but there are better ways to live.  A new report by Cumbria Action for Sustainability suggests 9,000 jobs over the next 15 years could be achieved if there was intelligent consistent Government support to adapt homes to reduce energy bills, restore damaged environments and provide sustainable transport in Cumbria. A Coal Mine is not the answer.

Cumbria County Council accept that the net CO2 emissions from the mine, from the use of its coal in steel works, and operational emissions would be about 9 Million Tonnes a year CO2 equivalent, even after the 107,000 tonnes CO2 "savings" claimed from reduced transportation distances. They only recommended approval of the mine because they accepted the mining company's claim that none of the CO2 would be "additional". The claim is 100% based on the notion that no low carbon alternative to coking coal in steel making will be commercially available before 2050. That is not true. The Committee on Climate Change make it clear that zero emissions steel is feasible and essential by 2035, and a new report by the Materials Processing Institute and Syndex UK explains one way that this could be achieved at the same time as providing consistent employment .  

The Public Inquiry needs to look into all these issues, and SLACC is working, with other charities and with academics, to make sure that it does. 


Update 6

South Lakes Action on Climate Change - towards transition

March 11, 2021

We have our Public Inquiry! Robert Jenrick "calls in" the mine!

At the last moment of the deadline that SLACC gave  to Robert Jenrick, as we were bracing ourselves from not one but two Judicial Reviews, we got the email!  Robert Jenrick's letter to Cumbria County Council makes it clear that the 6th Carbon Budget makes a difference to the case for the mine, and it is now "of more than local importance!. SLACC will need funds to make our case at the Public Inquiry, but we will let you know later how much we need, and when we will need it. 

THANK YOU to all the wonderful people who have got involved in the campaign.. Take care and have a rest to enjoy the spring! 

Update 5

South Lakes Action on Climate Change - towards transition

March 8, 2021

Mining Company challenge Cumbria County Council!

West Cumbria Mining (WCM) has lodged papers at the High Court to launch a Judicial Review of Cumbria County Council's decision to reconsider the Coal Mine application.  If successful this would stop the Council considering new information about the climate impacts of the mine, including from the Government’s own expert advisors. SLACC has always said that Robert Jenrick should have "called in" the application and not left this responsibility with the local council. You can help us to continue to oppose this mine !! 

All donors get update emails, so a small donation will keep us connected. If the Council is not prevented from doing so, the Committee will be on the 29th and 30th April and a "toolkit" for representations will be on our website in a week or so. 

Update 4

South Lakes Action on Climate Change - towards transition

Feb. 9, 2021

Cumbria County Council to reconsider coal mine decision

The huge outpouring of anger about the proposed coal mine at Whitehaven Cumbria, and the legal pressure applied by SLACCs legal team at Richard Buxton Solicitors have given objectors to the mine another chance to express their views.  Cumbria County Council have just announced that they will reconsider their (October 2020) decision to approve the mine. Read about it here

Our legal team have written 3 times to Cumbria CC since the 6th January 2021, presenting the new information about the UK 6th Carbon Budget, and highlighting why the intervention from the Climate Change Committee means that Cumbria was wrong to conclude the mine would have ZERO negative impacts on the global climate. 

Cumbria County Council will almost certainly be seeking to justify a further decision to approve, as a way of defending themselves from a Judicial Review. Do not expect their planning officers to change their minds and advise Councillors to refuse this time. It is possible that the Committee meeting will be on the 19th February, and objectors will have little more than a week to prepare further objections and apply to speak at the Committee. 

Thanks to all our supporters. Lets hold firm and continue to oppose the mine.

Update 3

South Lakes Action on Climate Change - towards transition

Feb. 5, 2021

Robert Jenrick now at risk of Legal Challenge

Public and scientific pressure continues to build on the UK Government to reconsider their most recent decision (29 January) and to "call in" the planning application and enable a Public Inquiry.  Richard Buxton Solicitors have still had no reply to their letter of the 2nd February, on SLACC’s behalf, to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government,  asking the SoS to confirm that all our previous submissions were taken into account, and give his reasons, for NOT calling in the planning application.

Our letter also says “Please note that if we do not receive a substantive response to this letter, our clients consider that the only avenue available to them
is likely to be to send a further letter in accordance with the pre-action protocol for judicial review”

We  enclosed the letter from the Climate Change Committee, and asked Jenrick to reconsider whether to call in the planning application in or not, taking the CCC letter into account. James Hansen's letter is further evidence that this is more than a local issue, and the joint NGO letter to Boris Johnson shows that this is deeply controversial. 

UK Government's blanket responses, refusing to change their mind, apparently whatever new evidence is presented, are hugely suspect legally and SLACC is now seriously considering whether to move towards a Judicial Review of Robert Jenrick's decision, rather than wait until Cumbria County Council issues it's Decision Notice. 

SLACC is a small environmental charity, and cannot do this without donations from you, the public. Although we have seen astounding support for our position, in unprecedented interventions from the UK and overseas, we have the "standing" to take legal challenges because we have opposed this mine from the first County Council Committee in March 2019. Please donate if you are able!

Update 2

South Lakes Action on Climate Change - towards transition

Jan. 29, 2021

Lord Deben Chair of the Climate Change Committee makes the same points as SLACC!

Lord Deben's letter to Robert Jenrick echoes SLACC's points and raises hopes that there will be a Public Inquiry after all. Read it here -,

Update 1

South Lakes Action on Climate Change - towards transition

Jan. 14, 2021

Let's keep going!

Huge thanks all who have donated. We need to press on to the £50,000 "stretch" target. Every pound counts.

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.