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To: The Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government

Call in the Decision and Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole (its too near Sellafield)

On the 19th March the Development Control and Regulation Committee of Cumbria County Council voted unanimously to allow coal mining under the Irish Sea. This is despite hearing from experts about fatal climate impacts and from a local civil society group concerned about the close proximity of the mine to Sellafield's radioactive high level wastes.

There remain significant questions about the extent of radiological and climate change impacts arising from this scheme (even if coal is used in steel production, there will be significant CO2 emitted). We note the purpose of the power under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 is to give the Secretary of State the power to call in planning applications where he considers that this is “necessary or desirable in the national interest” This is clearly one such case.

In light of the above, we urge the Secretary of State to call this application in for his own determination at the earliest opportunity.

Why is this important?

What Opponents are Saying:

"If this mine were to go ahead and the coal that is now safely underground in the custody of Cumbria County Council were to end up as CO2 in the atmosphere, there would be a serious risk of climate change impacts including some thousands of deaths extending long into the future. The mine could also result in global loss of livelihoods and homes numbering many times greater than the jobs created in Cumbria." Laurie Michaelis. ( He was a Lead Author or Convening Lead Author on several IPCC reports, including the Special Report on Emission Scenarios).

"Disturbance of nesting seabirds during construction and operation...
The development has the potential to have an adverse effect upon the St Bees Head SSSI through disturbance to both breeding and wintering birds during construction and operation." RSPB

“ little supporting information appears to have been provided by the applicant regarding the excavation of the new drifts" National Trust

“It is clear that this is a very large mine, with a very long life span…of 20-50 years and a peak of 2.8 million tonnes a year. Assuming a 40 year life (following construction), and an average of 2 million tonnes a year, that is a total production of 80 million tonnes, which will emit around 175 million tonnes of carbon dioxide. The level of emissions and proposed life-time of the mine is of major concern….We would also query whether or not there has been robust enough analysis of the potential for seismicity (and subsidence) relating to well-known nuclear facilities in the wider area, including Sellafield and proposed new facility at Moorside? What potential is there for seismicity to effect these and other facilities (including the low level waste repository at Drigg) and the possible high level waste radioactive waste facility which has been proposed in West Cumbria for some time.” Friends of the Earth

"The mining company’s aspiration is that scarce investment funding will come from Cumbria’s Local Enterprise Partnership. I will be very interested to understand the business justification for any such investment.” Graham Vincent, Portfolio Holder for Economy, South Lakeland District Council

“The application should be rejected because it is not in the national interest. From reviewing the documents submitted by West Cumbria Mining it is clear that the intention is to export the coal to Europe and Asia…The application to mine is too close to the Sellafield nuclear site and the proposal for another nuclear power station at Moorside. Underground mining can have a significant impact on the surrounding areas, recently a coking coal mine in Russia triggered an earthquake.” Coal Action Network

"There are significant risks of subsidence offshore, where there are known to be layers of chemical and radioactive pollution on the sea bed. The application addresses this by extracting only a significant distance off shore, and pumping mining waste back into the voids which it is claimed will reduce the subsidence risk. a. Toxic substances disturbed by subsidence would move freely through the marine environment and there could be no way of preventing adverse impacts in protected areas, and to fish and other marine organisms. One impact which can bring the reality of the risk home to us, is that the percentage of multi-wintering salmon returning to Cumbrian rivers has reduced from 25% to 2-3%. All the rest die at sea. Our river salmon populations are plummeting, and have been described as an extinction event, and it is due to changes in the marine ecology and environment."
Mrs Maggie Mason BA(Arch) Dip TP

"As I understand it, the sole justification from a sustainability point of view is that the extracted coal will be coking coal, not thermal coal (for use in power stations), with some preposterous notion that this will apparently produce a lower carbon footprint than coking coal imported from other countries. Yet so far as I can tell, no detailed lifecycle analysis, both direct and indirect, has been done by West Cumbria Mining, so why would anyone swallow that particular pile of coking crap?" Jonathon Porritt

"Given that this coal mine would extend to just 8km from Sellafield's high level radioactive wastes it is incumbent on Cumbria County Council to remember that the precautionary principle is at the heart of Environmental Law in the UK. A good reason to invoke the precautionary. principle is the possibility of liquefaction at Sellafield resulting from earthquakes in the West Cumbria area as described in a recent scientific paper by Martin Cross, Anass Attya, David J. A. Evans : The susceptibility of glacigenic deposits to liquefaction under seismic loading conditions: a case study relating to nuclear site characterization in West Cumbria". Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole, a Radiation Free Lakeland campaign

"When the coal mines are exhausted, there is a high risk that the exhausted empty coal mines will be used as a nuclear waste repository, wherein nuclear waste fragments from nearby Sellafield will be mixed with liquid concrete and then injected under high pressure into the empty coal mines to backfill them. If the concrete encapsulation fails, the coal mines will be a constant source of nuclear contamination in future.." Dr Timothy Norris

The Environment Agency, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Scientists for Global Responsibility, Dr Laurie Michaelis IPCC author and others continue to state that insufficient evidence has been provided by the developers with no independent assessments having been carried out or asked for by the Council.. The Committee was misled into unanimous approval of the coal mine.

We urge the Secretary of State to call this application in for his own determination at the earliest opportunity.

How it will be delivered

The previous Secretary of State decided not to call in the terrible decision by Cumbria County Council. This was quietly announced within hours of the announcement of the halt to fracking. Keeping the petition open for ever more people to sign and share sends all decision makers the message that people are angry about this coal mine and desperately want it to be halted. Now!




2020-07-02 17:21:37 +0100

"Earlier this year, campaigner Marianne Bennett, with support from the Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole (KCCH) group was granted permission for a judicial review of Cumbria County Council’s decision to allow the first deep coal mine in the UK for 30 years to be built by West Cumbria Mining (WCM) in Whitehaven. However, since the ruling in February, WCM has submitted a revised planning application ..Cumbria County Council has now confirmed that it will no longer rely on the resolution decision being challenged in the judicial review proceedings. However, Ms Bennett’s legal team at Leigh Day solicitors believes that WCM has submitted the revised planning application to defeat the legal more here

2020-04-13 21:13:44 +0100

The date of the week beginning the 20th July has now been set for the Legal Challenge which many of you have so generously donated funds towards. A Press Release has been sent out to media and can be read below. With many thanks for your continued support in the battle to stop this coal mine. We will let you know more details about the 20th July date as soon as we know more.

With All Very Best Wishes


on behalf of Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole.

2019-11-12 11:15:59 +0000

So the County Council and the Secretary of State have given the green light to this diabolic plan. We do not share their incomprehensible enthusiasm for opening the first deep coal mine in the UK in decades. The next step is to launch a legal challenge. We have been fighting this coal mine for years and now we need help more than ever. Please if you can Support our Legal Fight you will be helping to to ensure we do not endure the double whammy of Climate Chaos and Nuclear Catastrophe. Fracking was halted because of the risk of earthquakes - but this mine would extend to within five miles of the riskiest nuclear waste site in the world! Please Help!

2019-10-24 16:22:24 +0100

Cumbria County Council Plan to Ratify the Coal Mine Decision in Kendal on 31st October
Please ask to speak at the meeting (deadline to ask is tomorrow 25th Oct at 4.30) or write before the meeting on 31st October and ask them not to ratify this outrageous plan. Contact Democratic Services Officer – Nicola Harrison on 01228 226906 or email:[email protected]
More info here

2019-07-15 17:43:36 +0100

No mention that this mine would go so close to Sellafield but otherwise some good points made...although it is presented as a done deal - it isn't not by a long chalk!! #KeepCumbrianCoalintheHole.

2019-04-03 15:56:27 +0100

The Mayor of Copeland tells Cumbria County Council to ignore objectors including climate experts and civil society group Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole who have supporters living near the coal mine plan

2019-04-03 15:52:27 +0100

Dr Laurie Michaelis who has worked for the IPCC on Emissions speaks to Cumbria County Council - who then vote unanimously for a deep coal mine under the Irish Sea

2019-03-20 20:21:13 +0000

See Video here of IPCC author Laurie Michaelis Condemning the Plan

2019-01-06 22:37:03 +0000

1,000 signatures reached

2019-01-01 22:18:31 +0000

St Bees is famous for its guillemots - here is a clip of a guillemot shower ...wonderful. This is why the RSPB have voiced concerns about mining for coal under the Irish Sea off St Bees.

2018-12-28 19:23:18 +0000

Keep up to date with what is going on at our Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole blog

2018-04-03 22:42:22 +0100

Want to see some massive machines churning up fault lines and making huge holes under the Irish Sea - here you go....

2018-04-02 14:12:35 +0100

Easter Greetings! Many thanks to all who have been sharing, talking and campaigning to stop the first deep coal mine in the UK for 30 years. Opposition letters continue to be sent to Cumbria County Council including from Scientists for Global Responsibility who have said: ”Coal mines emit significant levels of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas which further exacerbates climate change. This coal mine will be no different..."
Please do join Scientists for Global Responsibility and write a few lines (or more!!) to Cumbria County Council Officer Rachel Brophy quoting: Planning Application 4/17/9007: Woodhouse Colliery email: [email protected]

2018-03-17 14:17:56 +0000

There has been a flurry of letters in the Westmorland Gazette - the overwhelming majority are opposed to the coal mine plan - you can read some of them here:

2018-02-07 16:36:40 +0000

An Article in The Ecologist spells out just why this plan must be stopped in its tracks...
"The very nature of earth tremors and quakes is that they are unpredictable, they are always a potential, and for this reason the mine must be stopped. There has been no critical debate in the national media and precious little in the local media. Radiation Free Lakeland has written to the Health and Safety Executive. It has called for a "moratorium on fossil fuel extraction near nuclear sites".
It is clear that the literal fallout from Woodhouse colliery is just too great in terms of CO2 based climate disruption as well as the potential for mass death from damage to Sellafield which would make toast of us all.

"Cumbria County Council must act to stop this crazy plan and apply itself to creating clean, safe sustainable jobs for the people of West Cumbria."