WCM Planning Objection

Still time to write to councillors! Although the date for official objections has passed, it may still be worth writing to individual members of the “Development, Control and Regulation Committee” and (if you live in Cumbria) your own local councillor.

The advice on this page was written to help with official objections which were due in before 15th June 2020, but should still be helpful for composing letters to councillors. See also the SLACCtt objection for more detailed ideas.

Although Cumbria County Council (CCC) unanimously granted planning permission on 31/10/19, excellent work by campaign group ‘Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole‘ (KCCH) led to the decision being threatened with a judicial review. West Cumbria Mining have been forced to change their planning application, and once again need to seek Cumbria County Council approval. The decision is now expected to be made at the meeting of the Development, Control and Regulation Committee on 20th August which is expected to be held online.

Consultation on 4/17/9007 – planning application for a coal mine off Cumbria’s west coast

To comment on this application go to http://planning.cumbria.gov.uk/ and use application Ref No: 4/17/9007. Then:

  • click “Comment on this application” at the top of the page.
  • OR send an email to development.control@cumbria.gov.uk – quoting the application reference number 4/17/9007 and including your name and address.

Comments need to be submitted before June 15th.

Here is a template response that you can use to comment (if you’re commenting online then this letter will need to be attached as a document as it is over the 1000 character limit):

However it is more effective if you create your own individualised response written with passion. Below are some of the relevant issues you may want to include.

At the bottom of this page are links to the committee members who will make the planning decision and full list of county councillors. It is a good idea to contact committee members AND your own county councillor if you live in Cumbria.

Key issues

  • Scientists warn that almost all known fossil fuel reserves must stay in the ground to have a chance of averting catastrophic climate breakdown. The development of this coal mine is incompatible with the UK’s legally binding obligations under the Paris Agreement, and with our survival as a species. NASA estimates on the trend of the last decade we will hit 1.5 degrees celsius of warming by 2025.
  • Cumbria is at significant risk from climate change, with many places projected to be underwater by 2050 due to annual coastal flooding. This includes Workington, Walney Island, Maryport, Barrow and the Solway Coast, among other places and is shown here: https://coastal.climatecentral.org/map.
    The increased emissions associated with this mine will contribute directly to this devastation. Are the jobs created worth the destruction caused?
  • Contrary to WCM’s claims, the mine will increase total global emissions. New, cheaper supplies of coal will not replace American coal; it will reduce the price of coal, and thus increase demand.
  • Steel can be, and is, made without coking coal. Continued investment in coking coal will lock us into this high-carbon technology and suppress the development of lower-carbon alternatives which are essential for the UK to meet its Paris Agreement commitments. Continuing with ‘Business as usual’ is not an option.
  • The majority shareholder of WCM, EMR Capital, is a private equity firm with an office in the Cayman Islands, an offshore tax haven. In its planning application WCM quotes 2 key reasons for developing a mine in West Cumbria: “Firstly the UK operates one of the most attractive royalty regimes when compared with the rest of the world. Secondly, salaries for miners are lower than for other countries”. In other words, this maximises profits but minimises workers’ wages; only 3% of the commodity value of the coal will be spent on wages.

Further Issues

  • WCM also claim that they only need to consider the “production” greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) from the mine itself, and not the (much larger)  “end use” of the coal in the steel works. But if coal is extracted it will be burned and will produce emissions. Whether here or abroad, the climate impact is the same. We’re in a global climate emergency and all countries must leave their fossil fuels in the ground if we are to survive as a species.

  • The jobs WCM claims the mine will create are not guaranteed, will not necessarily go to local people, and, as in other industries, are likely to be substantially cut through mechanisation. Furthermore, lower-carbon alternatives to coking coal will undoubtedly increase globally as climate regulation is tightened, leaving the mine as a stranded asset, and resulting in mass job losses. Workers in Cumbria need good, secure jobs in sustainable low carbon industries.
  • Coal mining under the sea might cause subsidence, and the sea bed has chemical and radioactive sediment which could be “mobilised” into the water and have impact on the marine environment, especially the Cumbria Coast Marine Conservation Zone. This has not been assessed yet
  • In their response to the Green Alliance report about new coal mines in the UK WCM haven’t used any credible or independent academics or other expertise. They’ve used just one industry consultant, Dr Neil Bristow, principal of a consultancy firm and co-chair of the Met Coke World Summit.

Other information sources

Cumbria County Council contacts