Campaign Update

Thanks to our donors, SLACC has been able to “instruct” Richard Buxton Solicitors and Cornerstone Chambers to progress the next stages towards a Judicial Review. The route to stopping the coal mine will become clearer, but we fully expect to need something like £50,000 for our legal challenge. So please keep sharing the fundraiser page. It is also important to increase public and media understanding of the planning application and why it is so damaging to the task of urgent reducing emissions. .

Richard Buxton Solicitors has, on SLACC’s behalf, sent a letter to Cumbria County Council and an email to the Secretary of State (SoS). These are initial steps in preparation for a legal challenge. See our Press Release here.

We needed to let the County Council and the SoS know that even the annual greenhouse gas emissions from operations of the Whitehaven Mine will exceed the “available emissions space” in the entire coal mining sub sector of the UK’s 6th Carbon Budget, recently released by the Committee on Climate Change. The UK Carbon Budget sets out the legally binding reductions in carbon emissions needed sector by sector for the period 2033-2037, however by 2026 the emissions from operations at the mine would be 3.7 times the total emissions available for all open coal mines (including unrestored old mines).

The 6th Carbon Budget projections are also incompatible with the County Councils conclusions that the need for coking coal in the UK will not significantly decrease over the coming decades to 2050. The projections from the Committee on Climate Change say that the use of coking coal in the UK steel industry needs to drop by approximately 2/3 by 2037. This is new information that the County Council did not have available on the 2nd October and Robert Jenrick does not appear to have considered either.

The letter to the County Council asks them to consider the new information before they issue the Decision Notice. The email to the SoS asks him to reconsider his decision NOT to “call in the application. This is still possible, because Cumbria County Council has not issued the DECISION NOTICE for the mine yet. In the lead up to COP26 it seems highly hypocritical to permit a mine that would jeopardise the UK’s ability to meet its own legally binding targets for carbon reduction. John Su



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Current Submissions to Cumbria CC

Here you can find SLACC’s latest objection and letters. Previous submissions, including SLACC’s original and main objection, can be found at the bottom fo this page.

Other Independent Objections

Here is a selection of local and national voices united in objection to the WCM application. These views are independent of the SLACC legal case.

Summary of Issues

SLACC has submitted 2 objections to the Coal Mine as currently proposed, on 20 June and 1 October 2020. We have focused on planning policies and sound evidence to show why the application should have been refused.

Impacts on Climate Change

The council has approved the mine to 31 December 2049 (instead of 2070 as WCM proposed), and said the mine would be “carbon negative” by accepting WCM’s argument that the 9 Million tonnes per year of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions from the USE of the coal in steel works over the whole life of the mine would be zero! This is the myth of 100% “substitution”, claiming a mine somewhere else would reduce its extraction by the same amount. (See the latest letter from Prof. Paul Ekins).

The 'Need' for Coking Coal

The Council has now admitted that steel can be made without coking coal, but thinks that the need won’t drop much until 2050. The evidence points to a big drop by 2035, as low carbon technologies expand. Minerals (especially coal) should not be extracted unless there is a real NEED. In addition, this type of coal would only provide a small % of the UK annual use. WCM only claim 13% of it would be used here, and problems with its sulphur content means this could be even less.

Impacts on Tourism, Heritage and Ancient Woodland

As well as the terrible impacts on people and nature from global temperature rises caused by fossil fuels, there will also be damage to Copeland’s strategic plan for “Renaissance through Tourism”, and on the Historic Environment and Landscape. Ancient Woodland will also be damaged and that should never be permitted unless there are wholly exceptional reasons to do so. There is an alternative to this mine, because the US can continue to provide coking coal to our steel industry while it shifts over to low carbon technologies.

Balancing Harms and Benefits

The Cumbria County Council have to “weigh unacceptable impacts” against the national and local economic benefits. If the potential 500 jobs do materialise, and if a reasonable percentage go to local people, then the wages themselves would be a local benefit. BUT if the Council gave the proper weight to the Climate Impacts as well as all the other impacts these would outweigh the local economic benefits from jobs. The national benefits are really quite small because very little of the coal would be used in the UK.

Please see the supporting documents for a more detailed breakdown of the issues.

West Cumbria Mining Documentation

Key planning documents submitted by WCM. Feel free to read them and decide for yourself whether it’s a sustainable proposal.

The application can still be viewed at Application Ref No: 4/17/9007.