Coal mine permit raises opposition

Cumbria County Council has granted planning approval to West Cumbria Mining (WCM) to develop  a new underground coal mine, located on a brownfield site, to the south west of Whitehaven in West Cumbria.

The site will be known as Woodhouse Colliery.

The decision prompted protests.  However, the site produces so-called ‘metallurgical coal’ which is converted to coke and used as a fuel and reactant in steelmaking. The coal produced will be delivered by rail to Redcar Bulk Terminal, located in North Yorkshire, on the east coast of England, which forms part of the steelworks in Teesside.

The company says site work will start before the end of 2019, with coal production commencing around 24 months from the start of construction.

Speaking to the Independent newspaper, Friends of the Earth clean energy campaigner Tony Bosworth said, “If we want to avoid dangerous climate change, giving the go-ahead to a new coal mine takes us in completely the wrong direction. Coal for power generation is currently being phased-out. Industries like steel and cement must make the shift to cleaner energy a top priority.”

Further reading

Cadent plan would see a fifth of gas in northwest replaced with hydrogen

UK should take leadership in using hydrogen, argues IMechE

2 comments for “Coal mine permit raises opposition

  1. Dr Timothy Norris
    April 21, 2019 at 4:09 PM

    Ultimate owner of Cumbrian coal mines is based in the Cayman Islands, according to Internet reports, so no tax revenue to UK Government. The project is more than just extracting coal – it is all about backfilling the exhausted coal mines with nuclear waste from Sellafield, wherein the nuclear waste will be encapsulated in concrete. Calder Hall reactor (Windscale) is being decommissioned and its radioactive parts need to be disposed off. Likewise, Thorp facility is being decommissioned and its radioactive metallic parts need to be disposed off. Perhaps nuclear waste will be imported from other parts of the World and also used as backfill for the exhausted mines. If the concrete encapsulation develops any fault, it will be impossible to rectify and will pollute the East coast of Ireland the the West coast of Scotland. These Sellafield scientists and experts have got it wrong in the past, and now what is being proposed could permanently ruin Cumbria and the coast up from Cumbria. Rather a big gamble for a few profits to be processed via the Cayman Islands ?

  2. Dr Timothy Norris
    July 27, 2019 at 7:14 PM


    Sadly, the authorities are not being honest with the public: the reason for these coal mines so near Sellafield is initially to extract coal for export (that pays for the cost of doing the mining), and then backfilling the exhausted coal mines with nuclear waste from Sellafield (and from all the old AGR’s that will soon be decommissioned). With Mayak (Russia) and Hanford (USA), Sellafield is one of the most radioactive places on Earth, with rotting and corroding tanks full of Magnox waste.

    Storing this waste underground may seem like an attractive solution, because having all this extremely dangerous waste on the surface at Sellafield is a national security risk; one large bomb dropped Sellafield would ruin the entire UK with radioactive fallout. For example, the Russian military know this well.

    The problem with the above plan is that the geology of Cumbria is unstable and porous, and an inappropriate encapsulation technology used for the nuclear waste could create in future a huge contamination problem that could ruin biologically the West coast of Scotland and the entire East coast of Ireland. Various projects have been commissioned to use concrete to encapsulate waste, but this is totally inadequate on the long term – Silicon Carbide ceramic cement would be a better choice, or vitreous glass encapsulation. Problem is that if this project is skimped and a colossal environmental problem cause by storing nuclear waste in the coal mines when empty, it will be almost impossible to rectify.

    Above is a comment from a well informed scientist/lawyer who has followed closely what can go wrong – for example at Fukushima, Hanford, Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and so forth.


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