Stop the Mine!

Just when we thought the UK was finally moving away from coal, up pops West Cumbria Mining (WCM) with their proposal for a new mine at Woodhouse Colliery, Whitehaven, Cumbria. They plan to extract 2.43 million tonnes of coking coal per year and 0.35 million tonnes of middlings coal every year for 50 years. When used, this would emit around 420 million tonnes CO2 equivalent. This figure excludes emissions arising from the extraction process itself.

In this Climate Emergency we can permit no new fossil fuel extraction, whether for metallurgical or thermal use.

Timeline so far:

  • 31st May 2017: Original planning application lodged with Cumbria County Council (CCC) by West Cumbria Mining (WCM)
  • 10th December 2018: WCM submit a variation to the application.
  • 19th March 2019: Cumbria County Council (CCC) granted permission for the land-based portion of the development (unanimous decision).
  • October 2019: CCC decision was ratified
  • November 2019: Secretary of State (for Housing, Communities and Local government – SoS) decides not to ‘call-in’ CCC’s decision
  • 12th December 2019: “Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole” (Marianne Bennett) file application for Judicial Review of CCC’s decision.
  • 6th May 2020: WCM submit revised planning documents to CCC
  • 2nd October 2020: CCC once again grants planning permission, although no longer unanimous. However Robert Jenrick, (Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local government) intervenes: The decision may not be ratified until he has decided whether or not to ‘call in’ the decision
  • 6th January 2020: It became clear that Robert Jenrick has abdicated government responsibility for the mine’s emissions and refused to ‘call in’ the CCC decision.
  • Position at 13/01/21: It now remains for CCC and WCM to finalise their ‘Section 106’ agreement after which the on-land part of the mine will be able to go ahead. However South Lakes Action on Climate Change (SLACCtt) have found new evidence which they’re pressing CCC to consider, including that since CCC last considered the application, the UK’s Climate Change Committee has released the Sixth Carbon Budget, covering the period 2033-2037 under which the Whitehaven mine alone would exceed the available ‘space’ in the budget for the coal mining sub-sector. SLACCtt are also fund raising toward a possible judicial review (see ). There may also still be hurdles for WCM in getting permission for the under-sea part of the mine. This permission would be granted not by CCC, but by the Marine Management Organisation. So the fight continues!
  • 9th February 2021: CCC announce that they will review their decision in light of ‘new evidence’. Meanwhile the government continues to avoid all responsibility. Keep a close eye on CCC planning application 4/17/9007 and CCC meetings calender for developments
  • 11th March 2021: At last! Secreary of State Robert Jenrick ‘calls in’ the coal mine decision:
  • 7th September 2021: The public inquiry into the planning application opens. It is expected to last for 4 weeks, and can be viewed on the Planning Inspectorate’s YouTube page.
  • Current (June 2022): The planning inspector has reported to Michael Gove earlier in the year, and we await his decision

Why the coal mine is such a bad idea: