Cumbria council controversially approves new coal mine

Cumbria County Council has controversially approved plans for a deep coal mine, despite criticisms that it contradicts the UK’s climate change commitments.

The council’s development committee – made up of Labour, Lib Dem and Conservative councillors – unanimously approved plans for the £165m Woodhouse Colliery at its meeting yesterday afternoon, saying that demand and new jobs ‘outweighed’ climate change concerns.

The decision will allow West Cumbria Mining, who filed the application, the ability to extract coking coal from the Copeland coast between Whitehaven and St. Bees, with the company hoping to process around 2.5 million tonnes of the fossil fuel per year.

Cllr Jeff Cook, the chair of the council’s development control and regulation committee, said: ‘All of us would prefer to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and we recognise that during construction there will be disruption to many local residents.

‘However, we felt that the need for coking coal, the number of jobs on offer and the chance to remove contamination outweighed concerns about climate change and local amenity.’

The decision to authorise the UK’s new first deep coal mine in 30 years was met with fury by local environmental activists, some of whom staged a sit-in on the floor of the council chamber.

Climate campaigners have said that the decision will hamper the UK’s efforts to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions and lower the speed of climate change.

The UK is currently aiming to close all its coal-fired power stations by 2025. However, as the colliery will be used to support steel production, and not power, this 2025 phase-out date will not apply.

Researcher Rebecca Willis, an associate of the environmental think tank Green Alliance, said the decision showed that the UK’s current climate policy is still too vague to deter politicians from authorising high carbon developments.

‘This shows the depth of the problem,’ Willis tweeted. ‘There is currently enough ambiguity in climate policy and planning law to be able to put together some sort of justification for a new coal mine, even if this runs contrary to the UK’s climate commitments.’

The council’s decision was welcomed by West Cumbria Mining who said that the mine will bring ‘significant benefits’ to Cumbria in terms of jobs and investment.

Work is now expected to start on the scheme before the end of the year, with coal production set to start in about two years’ time.

It is anticipated that the mine will employ around 500 people, with around 2,000 more jobs set to be created along its supply chain.

Chris Ogden

Chris Ogden

Digital News Reporter

3 thoughts on “Cumbria council controversially approves new coal mine

  • Avatar
    19th April 2019 at 9:15 am
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    Dear Sir/Madam

    What is not addressed is a fact that the coal mines, when exhausted, will be very tempting for backfilling with waste. Sellafield et al. could potentially fragment low- to medium-risk nuclear waste, mix with liquid concrete to generate a composite, the then inject the composite at high pressure into the exhausted coal mines to dispose of the nuclear waste. Maybe this is a very good idea, as it keeps nuclear waste safely away from the surface and in an encapsulated state. The problem is that if such a process were to encounter technical problems, it would be virtually impossible to dig down and solve later once the injected composite has set hard. I raise this issue as it deserved journalistic debate and reporting.

    Yours faithfully

    Dr Timothy Norris

    Reply
  • Avatar
    21st April 2019 at 4:49 pm
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    Dear Sir/Madam

    What is not addressed is a fact that the coal mines, when exhausted, will be very tempting for backfilling with waste. Sellafield et al. could potentially fragment low- to medium-risk nuclear waste, mix with liquid concrete to generate a composite, and then inject the composite at high pressure into the exhausted coal mines to dispose of the nuclear waste. Maybe this is a very good idea, as it keeps nuclear waste safely away from the surface and in an encapsulated state. The problem is that if such a process were to encounter technical problems, it would be virtually impossible to dig down and solve later once the injected composite has set hard. I raise this issue as it deserved journalistic debate and reporting.

    Yours faithfully

    Dr Timothy Norris

    Reply
  • Avatar
    18th July 2019 at 11:25 am
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    When reading about dismantling of Thorp and also clean-up of the Sellafield site in general, it is clear that the authorities want to get rid of a lot of debris and radioactive rubbish, not to mention all the old AGR that will soon need to be decommissioned. So why the dishonesty when most people with a little insight will realise that the purpose of the coal mine is to make space for the waste underground when the coal has been extracted.? The degree of dishonesty by Cumbria Council and the UK Government is astounding. Rather than slipping in this project as a “dirty little secret” that everybody knows about but does not dare to talk about, please let the project be “out in the open” so that, in an event that nuclear waste is stored in the new coal mines when empty, that it is done properly and correctly in a long-term perspective, so that the entire West Coast of Scotland and the entire East Coast of Ireland does not become horrendously contaminated in an event of collapse of the coal mine shafts, deep under the Irish Sea.

    Reply

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