No doubt you will have seen and heard some of the recent coal mine media coverage ranging from Women's Hour to the 'Long Read' in the Guardian. This is brilliant in one way as the Cumbrian coal mine plan went for so long without any criticism at all from the media or NGOs. There are however high level omissions in all the reporting and I fear that our Government are only too happy for the focus to be myopically on climate rather than the blatant cronyism of the coal mine boss having been appointed to ADVISE the government on nuclear dump plans. How on earth can the forthcoming public inquiry be impartially decided upon by a government minister when the most powerful tier of government, the Dept of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is taking advice from the coal mine boss, Mark Kirkbride? Not only that but the Coal Authority (who are under BEIS) are deferring to the coal boss's wish not to place the new Coal Authority licence applications in the public domain. Again how on earth can there be a public inquiry in which the public don't know what the developer has planned?
We are countering these high level omissions but as nuclear safety campaigners with Radiation Free Lakeland (who took on the Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole campaign in 2017) our public reach is small.
Please write to your MP, (and anyone else you can think of - letters to the press etc ). asking them the following questions:
1. How can Government make an impartial decision on the coal mine when the Government have employed the coal mine CEO Mark Kirkbride to advise them on "Delivery of a Geological Disposal Facility" for heat generating nuclear wastes? The area next to the mine under the Irish Sea is in the frame. Mark Kirkbride has been asked to produce costings on construction and mining.
2. How can the Public Inquiry be in any way open and honest when the public and presumably the Planning Inspector are not being allowed sight of the developer's latest applications for Coal Authority Licences, including in subsea areas of the Irish Sea where there is no coal reserve. The Coal Authority have confirmed that they are deferring to the developer, West Cumbria Mining, who want to keep the licences confidential - even redacted public access has been refused.
3. Cumbria County Council have withdrawn their support for the coal mine and the Secretary of State for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy Kwasi Kwarteng has said there are compelling reasons to block the coal mine. Organisations from Ethical Consumer Research Association to West Cumbria Water (Save our water services} have asked: Why doesn't the Secretary of State use his discretion to make a decision on the Coal Authority licences, block the licences and save the public the huge expense of an inquiry?
Here below is a recent letter (unpublished) written to the Guardian in response to Rebecca Willis' Long Read.
Dig Coal to Save the Climate ( May 27th 2021 The Long Read by Rebecca Willis) could be titled Dig Holes to Hide Nuclear Waste. Way back in 2018 I wrote a letter to the Guardian exposing the dodgy coal mine plan (Cumbrian coal must stay in the ground where it belongs - Letters Wed 28 Mar 2018). Truths yet to be exposed by mainstream journalists include: Sellafield (five miles away) fully supports the mine; the Coal Authority (who report to BEIS) handed developers the £2.5 Million Heritage Lottery Funded Haig Colliery Mining Museum and Land for £1; and most concerning the coal mine boss Mark Kirkbride has been appointed to advise Government on "Delivery” of a deep nuclear dump for heat generating wastes i.e. a “Geological Disposal Facility.” Back in 1997 Cumbria County Council opposed Government plans (NIREX) for a Rock Characterisation Facility to test out Cumbria’s complex geology for a deep nuclear dump. West Cumbria Mining have, since 2013, when they were given a free pass by the Coal Authority to drill ‘exploratory’ boreholes along the West Coast of Cumbria, achieved what NIREX failed to do. Rock characterisation core samples are now stacked in boxes, like the final scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark, in the Haig Colliery Mining Museum. The Government’s Committee on Radioactive Waste Management have asked the coal boss, Mark Kirkbride, to give costings on the digging of a big hole for a deep nuclear dump. The nuclear dump is, we are told possible under the Irish Sea bed adjacent to the coal mine. The same coal mine that will now be decided upon by Government (who are employing the coal boss as advisor). Cronyism doesn’t get any more blatant. There are high level omissions in the Long Read.
Finally , there is an ongoing Petition to draw attention to the intolerable situation with the Coal Authority Licences - please do sign and share https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/block-new-coal-licences-for-cumbria
With Many Thanks