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Government Appointment of Coal Mine CEO to UK Nuke Dump Plans - Not Dodgy At All ?!!

Letter sent today to MP Tim Farron from Radiation Free Lakeland

Dear Tim,

West Cumbria Mining is in Bed with BEIS (Dept of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy) BEIS are Responsible for the "Delivery of a Geological Disposal Facility in the UK" . BEIS support the coal mine in Cumbria and have employed the CEO of the coal mine to high public office (CoRWM) in order to promote their GDF plan under the Irish Sea (in the area adjacent to said coal mine).

As promised we are following up on the letter you received from the Chair of the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management with regard the CEO of West Cumbria Mining. Notwithstanding West Cumbria Mining CEO Mark Kirkbride's personal insult to me "Marianne, you should get a conscience" said after the 19th Oct 2019 County Council planning meeting there are other disturbing issues about the appointment of Mr Kirkbride to CoRWM (just days after that Council meeting).

We have been looking at West Cumbria Mining's lobbying over the last several years. While WCM class themselves as a "small company" in order it seems to avoid full filing of company finances, they have been afforded incredible access to key government departments. Access that other Cumbrian small businesses could only dream of. Meetings have taken place between West Cumbria Mining and at least three government departments including BEIS - the dept which is responsible for CoRWM appointments. The public would rightly assume that CoRWM and other government departments in the interests of transparency and ethics would not ever consider public appointments of individuals who have previously and continue to repeatedly lobby government departments to advance their business interests. Especially when those business interests include the most controversial coal mine in UK history which coincidently is in the area where the UK government have repeatedly tried to progress Geological Disposal plans despite cumulative scientific evidence that the plan is dangerous (we wonder how CoRWM expect Mark Kirkbride's business interests of a coal mine in the same area will make the already complex and faulted geology in the Eastern Irish Sea area safer?)

The following screen shot is from Transparency International UK indicating just some of the privileged access WCM has had to Government departments

Sir Nigel Thrift of CoRWM has told you that "I do not believe that his wider business interest creates a conflict of interest with the role he performs for CoRWM.” BEIS is responsible for CoRWM - BEIS has approved Coal Authority licences for Mark Kirkbride and is due to approve new licenses for Mark Kirkbride's business interests. Mark Kirkbride's West Cumbria Mining development has lobbied government departments including BEIS and continues to lobby government ministers in order to push through his coal mine. This is outrageous and not acceptable of any publicly appointed figure especially not one pushing "Delivery of the Geological Disposal Facility for the UK".

BEIS is clearly tucked up tightly in bed with West Cumbria Mining - if Sir Nigel Thrift thinks there is nothing wrong with this arrangement then CoRWM who report to BEIS are not to be trusted with the safety of this and future generations and the GDF plan should be scrapped immediately.

Below are some of the reasons why CoRWM's appointment of Mark Kirkbride is not to be trusted..

1. CoRWM's role is to advise RWM on "Delivery of a Geological Disposal Facility" and the area under consideration is adjacent to Mark Kirkbride's business interests of the Coal Mine,

2. CoRWM has also told us that it accepts no responsibility for the radioactive wastes on the Irish Sea bed - the area beneath which one of their members is proposing to mine for coal which would lead to "expected subsidence" of the sea bed and consequently resuspension of Sellafield's discharged radioactive wastes.

3. Mark Kirkbride's business interests of the most controversial coal mine in UK history has seen repeated lobbying of at least three government departments, this in itself is entirely unethical even it is is legal (??) . It is unacceptable for CoRWM to have employed Mark Kirkbride in any circumstances but given the huge intergeneration implications in the Governmental agenda of "Delivery of a Geological Disposal Facility" this appointment is unconscionable.

We note on the CoRWM website that Mark Kirkbride appears to have been elevated to actual Chair of CoRWM - Is this true? Surely not!

We know Mark Kirkbride is Chair of the CoRWM sub committee dealing with the idea of a near surface repository amongst other things. The significance of this is that the inshore coal measures are at or near the surface, not at the depths being proposed for a GDF under the Irish Sea area adjacent to the coal measures. Kirkbride's appointment of Chair within CoRWM (which he also now chairs ?) to the committee looking at "near surface repository" for 'lower' level wastes (not heat generating nuclear wastes earmarked for GDF) is yet another conflict of interest.

The corruption of governance in the lobbying of Government departments and subsequent Governmental appointment by Mark Kirkbride CEO of West Cumbria Mining to CoRWM is beyond belief and deserves some kind of urgent official inquiry. Meanwhile the lobbying by WCM for their controversial coal mine continues - this is, by any standard a corruption of governance.

yours sincerely

Marianne Birkby

on behalf of Radiation Free Lakeland


Letter from Chair of CoRWM Sir Nigel Thrift to Tim Farron MP


Dear Mr Farron,

Thank you for your letter of the 6th of November.

The Committee on Radioactive Waste Management is a Committee giving independent scientific and technical advice to UK government and the devolved administrations on matters to do with radioactive waste.

Mr Kirkbride was appointed to the Committee as an expert on underground construction. I do not believe that his wider business interest creates a conflict of interest with the role he performs for CoRWM. For the sake of clarity, Mr Kirkbride was appointed to the Committee in November 2019 and his appointment was unconnected to any consideration of planning decisions in relation to the work of West Cumbria Mining.

I hope that this reply helps.

Yours Sincerely,

Professor Sir Nigel Thrift


FOI response to Marianne Birkby from Committee on Radioactive Waste Management

Victoria 316-319, 3rd Floor

1 Victoria Street



Marianne Birkby October 2020

27th October FOI Request

Dear Marianne Birkby,

Thank you for your email 27th October where you requested the following information:

  • Are CoRWM endorsing West Cumbria Mining's Irish Sea Coal Mine plan? (the appointment of Mark Kirkbride to CoRWM strongly suggests complicity)

  • Which body is responsible for making sure that everything is done to ensure Sellafield's discharged wastes now on the Cumbrian Mud Patch lie as dormant as possible ( inevitably there is some resuspension from storms and tides) and not be induced to be resuspended en masse into the water column by subsidence/collapse of the Irish Sea bed.

  • If collapse of the Irish Sea bed occurs and decades worth of discharged reprocessing wastes including plutonium are discharged into the water column and the coasts - (airborne particles can travel 10+ miles inland) who would be responsible for this induced nuclear catastrophe?

  • WCM have, following four years of drilling, 4000 metres of drill core held in 851 core boxes stacked in steel crates at the former Haig Mining Museum. Will CoRWM and other bodies involved in the (premature) plan for Geological 'Disposal' of nuclear waste be using this to inform "site evaluation of a GDF?"

Please find attached the answers to your questions below:

For Question 1, West Cumbria Mining and the business interest of Mr Kirkbride, bear no influence on the remit of CoRWM. Accordingly, CoRWM has naturally taken no view of the matter raised.

For Questions 2, 3 and 4, CoRWM does not hold the information requested. You may want to contact NDA who is responsible for Sellafield, or the relevant environmental and marine regulators, who may be able to offer a response to your questions.

Appeals procedure

If you are dissatisfied with the handling of your request, you have the right to ask for an internal review. Internal review requests should be submitted within two months of the date of receipt of the response to your original request and should be addressed to CoRWM at:

Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future communications.

If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review, you have the right to apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a decision. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at: Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF.

Yours sincerely,


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