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Email your election candidates about the West Cumbria coal mine

Coal Action Network asked Who will stop coal? last weekend in Whitehaven, West Cumbria. At the site of the proposed coal mine, members of the local community and supporters gathered to ensure that the question of the mine is being put to election candidates. Now we need you to crank up the pressure and make sure all election candidates across the UK faces this question as they could decide the fate of the coal mine if elected and legal challenges to the mine are successful next month...

It's not just about one coal mine...

The next Government may have the opportunity to not only stop the West Cumbria mine, but legislate an end to coal mining in the UK forever. We will be working hard behind the scenes to make that happen ­- but, the more you can help us, the better. Join us in writing to your local candidates (automatically selected) - this could be the first step in them helping to end coal mining in the UK for good.

Check out our action!

Hearing date set for proposed West Cumbria Coal mine

The legal challenges against the government’s approval of a new coal mine off the coast of Cumbria will be heard in London on the 16th to 18th July.

West Cumbria Mining Ltd’s application to extract 2.78 million tonnes of coking coal a year, right up to until 2049, was approved by the Conservative Government in December 2022. Two legal challenges to this decision have been awaiting a High Court hearing following the decision.

Help stop the coal mine by sharing or donating to SLACC's crowdfunder for their legal costs. Everything helps.

One of the 5 grounds against the approval of the mine relies on the outcome of case relating to the downstream emissions from a proposed oil well at Horse Hill Surrey. West Cumbria Mining Ltd intervened in the Horse Hill case, hoping for a ruling that would set a precedent that allows the coal mine to go ahead. The Supreme Court Hearing for the Horse Hill case took place in June 2023, but the decision has yet to be announced.

The courts had said that the legal challenges to the proposed coal mine needed to be heard after the Horse Hill decision was given. This condition has now been lifted and the hearing will take place in July, irrelevant of when the Horse Hill decision is made.

Following the July hearing, the High Court judges will decide whether the government’s approval of the proposed coal mine is lawful. If it decides the decision wasn’t lawful a new decision will be required from the government which could be the end of this disastrous project.

Demonstrations are being planned in support of the legal challenges on the first day of the hearing in outside the court in London and in Whitehaven, Cumbria during the hearing. Keep an eye out on our upcoming events page for details when available.

Success: Yet another major insurer rules out the proposed West Cumbria coal mine and the East African Crude Oil Pipeline

A massive win from the Global Week of Action, 26th February - 3rd March 2024.

After a week of peaceful protest around the world, alongside hundreds of groups, our efforts have paid off. Yet another leading insurance company, Probitas, has ruled out insuring the proposed West Cumbria coal mine and the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP).

Probitas is the 29th insurance company to rule out EACOP and the sixth to rule out West Cumbria coal mine. 

Insurance is the polluters’ Achilles Heel - without it, polluters cannot operate coal, oil or gas projects. So if the insurance industry refuses contracts with new and expanding projects, that ends fossil fuel expansion for good.

The decision by Probitas is a strong sign that the insurance industry is starting to recognise the severe risks of dirty fuel projects - to their reputations, their bottom lines and to ordinary communities who want a safe, healthy word. 

The more insurance companies pull away from these controversial projects, the harder it will be for them to raise the money they need to go forwards. 

Another breakthrough came earlier in the week of action, when Zurich agreed to enter talks with campaign groups, including Extinction Rebellion, about Insure Our Future’s demands - including an end to insuring new fossil fuel expansion.

Take action on insurance for a safer future

These victories can be attributed to the great diversity of approaches used throughout Insure Our Future’s Global Week of Action. Through many forms of non-violent protest and campaigning, groups encouraged insurance workers to reflect on how the industry’s support for new fossil fuels is making the world more chaotic, and the unique power of insurers to instead bring more safety and fairness to communities facing extreme weather and a lack of clean energy.

From protest marches to direct action, from petitions to mass phone calls and emails from volunteers, Coal Action Network and our many partner groups used all the tactics in the protest toolkit to urge insurance companies to step up.

In London, the week kicked off with a spectacular dance performance by Mothers Rise Up, directed by one of the world’s leading opera choreographers Denni Sayers, set against classical music and conveying an important message for insurers to protect children and future generations. 

This was followed by office occupations and a peaceful protest that encircled the headquarters of insurance marketplace, Lloyd’s of London’s. Later, groups took similar action against insurers up and down the country in major cities, while many thousands took part in online mass emails, phoning and commenting on crucial platforms like LinkedIn.

The ongoing Insure Our Future campaign has the potential to prevent new coal, oil and gas projects from ever destroying our climate, communities and nature. 

By working together, we can urge insurers to play their part in creating a safer, more secure world for future generations and countries on the frontline of the climate emergency. 

We can achieve this if we convince enough insurance companies to reject contracts with the companies behind these two key ‘carbon bombs’ - the toxic French energy giant Total and West Cumbria Mining Limited.

The Global Week of Action is not over yet. Coal Action Network is keeping up the momentum by running another round of mass emails this week. To get involved, keep an eye on Coal Action Network’s social media pages.

EMR Capital’s other coking coal mine – Kestrel, Queensland

EMR Capital, the company that owns 81% of the proposed West Cumbria Coal mine, is currently operating another coking coal mine – Kestrel.

The Kestrel mine is an underground mine located in the Bowen Basin in central Queensland. The Bowen Basin contains the largest coal reserves in Australia.

The mine produces twice the annual output proposed for West Cumbria, at 5.56 million tonnes a year. The Kestrel coal mine is not without controversy, which could occur in West Cumbria if the mines started. See below for recent issues for workers, subsidence and with polluted water discharge which at Kestrel could affect the Great Barrier Reef or the coast at Cumbria.

There is not a strong campaign focus against Kestrel coal mine specifically, as in 2021, Australia had 94 operational coal mines, coal and a much lower population density than in the UK. The mine has operated since 1992.

Like the proposed West Cumbria Coal mine, Kestrel is not owned and operated by just one company.

“Both EMR and Adaro are keen investors in Metallurgical Coal.”[1]

Kestrel mine is owned by Kestrel Coal Resources (80%) and Mitsui Investments (20%). Kestrel Coal Resources is made up of 52% EMR Capital, with Adaro Capital Ltd owning the other 48%.

Location of Kestrel coal mine

Key facts

  • Coal type: coking coal
  • Location: central Queensland
  • Traditional owners of the land: Western Kangoulu [2]
  • Area: 17,000 hectares
  • Depth: 350m to 400m [3]
  • Seem depth: 3m [3]
  • Annual coal sales: 5.56 Mt (2021) [4]
  • Main markets: India, South Korea, and Japan [4]
  • Mining started: 1992 [5]
  • Expected closure: 2032 [5]
  • Reserves available until: 2046 [6]
  • Further expansion?: Likely [7]
  • Employees: approximately 660 [2]
  • Mine’s direct annual emission position in Australia (2019-2020) 9th [9] out of approx 94 mines [8]
  • Previous owner: Mitsui Investments (20%) and Rio Tinto (80%) share sold to EMR Capital and Adaro Energy in 2018.
Kestrel coal mine from https://www.mining-outlook.com/commodities/coal-mining-sector/kestrel-coal-resources-mining-for-a-legacy-worth-leaving/4

Controversy

Protests and disputes

There were workers disputes at the mine in 2022 over job contracts, including redundancy policies, health insurance policies and our incentive bonus policy. The Mining and Energy Union vice president criticized Kestrel over the ongoing saga. [10]

The mine was for sale in 2022. It does not seem to have found a buyer.

Threat at a local level

The traditional owners of the land are the Western Kangoulu people who co-operate to some extent with the miners, but say “the sectors activities also present a large threat to the protection of cultural heritage and values with extensive and irreparable damage being done to the land resources of the Western Kangoulu area.” [11]

Environmental issues

Lock the Gate has highlighted that “Central Queensland coal mines are releasing billions of litres of polluted water many times saltier than the receiving rivers in the catchment of the Great Barrier Reef, prompting concerns about the ecological health of impacted waterways.”

According to the Environment Department’s figures, Kestrel, in Jan 2023 was releasing the equivalent of an Olympic-sized swimming pool of water every eight seconds into Crinum Creek.

The Environmental Advocacy in Central Queensland director said, “It’s particularly galling that even coal mines that publicly claim to be ‘zero-discharge’, such as Kestrel, are releasing thousands of litres into Central [Queensland] creeks every second which will be carrying sediment to the Reef.” [12]

Subsidence

There has been subsidence at the Kestrel mine, this was likely planned. The area over the mines is mainly agricultural. Subsidence is where the ground sinks after coal mining has cleared an underground void and the rock roof is allowed to fall in, causing disruption at ground level.

At the Kestrel mine there is recorded subsidence of 1.6m to 2 m down the centre of the 250 m wide panels. These panels are approximately 4km long.” At the Kestrel site this affects the hydrology of the area. Similar subsidence, were it to take place, at the currently proposed West Cumbria coal mine, would cause disruption on the sea bed. If this is expected a license for the mine is required from the Marine Management Organisation. As “subsidence increase[s] permeability and porosity”. [13]

References

1 https://kestrelcoal.com/stakeholders/

2 https://www.mining-outlook.com/commodities/coal-mining-sector/kestrel-coal-resources-mining-for-a-legacy-worth-leaving/3

3 https://www.mining-outlook.com/commodities/coal-mining-sector/kestrel-coal-resources-mining-for-a-legacy-worth-leaving

4 https://www.adaro.com/pages/read/7/22/mining

5 https://www.gem.wiki/Kestrel_mine

6 https://www.mining-outlook.com/commodities/coal-mining-sector/kestrel-coal-resources-mining-for-a-legacy-worth-leaving#small-but-mighty

7 https://www.mining-outlook.com/commodities/coal-mining-sector/kestrel-coal-resources-mining-for-a-legacy-worth-leaving/7

8 https://www.ga.gov.au/digital-publication/aecr2023/coal

9 https://www.lockthegate.org.au/flatulent_narrabri_underground_expansion_would_be_most_polluting_thermal_coal_mine_in_australia_for_direct_greenhouse_emissions

10 https://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/central-queensland/business/kestrel-coal-mine-dispute-over-employee-agreement-between-emerald-miners-and-kestrel-coal-resources/news-story/51458de7ad16d0214fc17426a2b9a1cf

11 https://lumburrabimbi.com.au/western-kangoulu/

12 https://lumburrabimbi.com.au/western-kangoulu/

13 file:///home/anne/Lechner2014Theimpactofundergroundlongwallminingonprimeagriculturalland.pdf Referencing Gullo D. 2006. Kestrel coal mine: subsidence and agriculture. Central Queensland Mining Forum. 18 October 2006. Fitzroy Basin Association, Emerald, Queensland, Australia., Booth & Spande, 1992; Potentiometric and aquifer property change above subsiding longwall mine panels, Illinois basin coalfield. Ground Water 30: 362–368., and Booth, 1998, Impacts of mine subsidence on groundwater. In Proceedings of Prime, Farmland Interactive Forum, Hooks CL, Vories KC, Throgmorton D (eds). Department of Agronomy, Illinois Agricultural Experiment Station, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Southern Indiana: Evansville; 143–148.).

 

Proposed Whitehaven coal mine campaign timeline

Main events

2014 Company directors buy Riverside Energy and change the name to West Cumbria Mining Ltd ( West Cumbria Mining Ltd).

2015 Cumbria County Council and  West Cumbria Mining Ltd hold internal discussions.

2016 Environmental Impact Assessment Scoping Report is finalised.

2017 Initial planning application is submitted.

2017 September. First demonstration against the coal mine - organised by Radiation Free Lakeland

2018 Major changes to the application are made and a new Environmental Statement submitted.

2019 March. Cumbria County Council planning committee holds hearing for the Whitehaven coal mine application, and approves it “subject to S106 legal agreement".

2019 April. Call in Request to Rt Hon James Brokenshire Secretary of State from Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole (a Radiation Free Lakeland campaign) around potential nuclear impacts of the proposal.

2019 June. A call-in request by SLACC is refused by Secretary of State (Secretary of State).

2019 October. Cumbria County Council planning committee holds second hearing and again approves the Whitehaven coal mine application “subject to S106 legal agreement".

2019 Judicial review launched by Leigh Day solicitors on behalf of Radiation Free Lakeland.

2020 May. Cumbria County Council planning committee sets aside (withdraws) previous “consent subject to S106”.

2020 June.  West Cumbria Mining Ltd submits revised application (claiming to no longer mine and sell the high sulphur “middlings” coal in the area).

2020 October. Cumbria County Council planning committee holds third hearing for the Whitehaven coal mine application, and again approves it “approval subject to S106 legal agreement".

2021 January. SLACC issue second request for the Secretary of State to call-in  West Cumbria Mining Ltd’s application.

2021 February. Cumbria County Council suspended approval decision because Climate Change Committee recommended the end of coking coal use by 2035.

2021 February. CAN petition with 110,000+ signatures is submitted to the UK Government for the Secretary of State to call in the mining application.

2021 March. SLACC launches judicial review against the Secretary of State’s failure to call in  West Cumbria Mining Ltd’s application.

2021 March.  West Cumbria Mining Ltd launches judicial review against Cumbria County Council and in opposition to SLACC’s judicial review of the Secretary of State.

2021 Secretary of State finally agrees to call in  West Cumbria Mining Ltd’s application and to hold a Public Inquiry into it.

2021 September. 11 groups commit to taking direct action to stop the West Cumbria coal mine if government approves it.

2021 September.  West Cumbria Mining Ltd make major change just ahead of Public Inquiry - tunnelling under the ancient woodlands.

2021 September. Public Inquiry is held.

2021 September. On the first day of the Public Inquiry, around 70 people gather outside the site of the prospective Whitehaven coal mine, and outside the Secretary of State’s office, Ministry of Housing, Communities, and Local Government.

2022 December. Michael Gove publishes decision to grant planning permission to the Whitehaven coal mine.

2022 December. Twitter storm erupts with the message “We reject the Whitehaven coal mine, #StopCoal @luhc @CoalActionUK”.

2022 December. Protests at the site and in other parts of Cumbria against the approval. At the site they continue monthly throughout 2023.

2022 December. 5 Santas deliver sacks of dirty ‘coal’ to the Secretary of State at the Department of Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities as he is on the (very) naughty list for approving the Whitehaven coal mine.

2023 Jan. SLACC and FOE request permission to legally challenge the Secretary of State’s decision in a Statutory Review.

2023 April. High Court refuse permission to appeal.

2023 April. FOE and SLACC apply for ‘Renewal’—similar to an appeal, which is granted.

2023 May. Legal challenges against the governmental decision are approved for SLACC and Friends of the Earth for a combined hearing. Originally due to be heard in October 2023, but delayed to await the outcome of a linked case, relating to oil extraction in Surrey.

2023 August. 25 large banners opposing the proposed new coal mine near Whitehaven with the words ‘NO TIME for a COAL MINE’ were unveiled along all the roads entering Cumbria on the same day.

2023 August. Earth First! Gathering occupied the site of the proposed Whitehaven coal mine for 5 days, with around 150 attendees, ran workshops on all things environmental and engaged with many local residents over the days.

2023 September. Global Day of Action against Fossil Fuels includes demonstrations against Lloyds of London Insurance companies which fail to rule out insuring the project.

Published: 28. 12. 2023

Mines and Money Conference - ditch the dirty dollars, invest in our future!

We assume our invite got lost in the post...

People hailing from Cumbria to London, and everywhere in between, descended on the Mines and Money Conference in London across two days (28th-29th Nov 2023). We demanded that investors stop pouring cash into the mining sector, and instead invest in our collective future. Together with Fossil Free London and other groups, we greeted investors with flyers highlighting risks to investments in mining that mining companies want to hide—such as successful grassroots resistance to mining projects around the world.

We also heard on the grapevine that EMR Capital PTY, the ultimate owner of the proposed West Cumbria coal mine (WCM), was attending in the desperate hope of raising the £230 million still needed to start the WCM. So local campaigners from Cumbria came all the way to London to deliver a message to potential investors in WCM—steer clear! To further ruin EMR Capital PTY’s plans, they also handed investors a risk assessment, provided by BankTrack, outlining risks specific to the proposed WCM proposal. Two other coal mining companies were present at the conference too.

There’s many alternatives we must take instead of clawing the ground up to reach the minerals beneath, and that is where investment is needed. For example, we need:

  1. better closed-loop recycling and reuse
  2. new technologies and the efficiencies they can bring
  3. the eradication of planned obsolescence
  4. a reduction and prioritisation in what we consume

This would truly be ‘resourcing tomorrow’—the strapline for this year’s Money & Mining conference. Instead, the conference encourages investment in the rush for remaining minerals, fuelling human rights abuses, land grabs, destruction of local eco-systems, and climate change.

We call out the host of this disastrous conference, the Business Design Centre, which boasts its ethical ‘B-Corp’ status. You might want to raise your concerns with the certifying body about giving these hosts any kind of ethical certification (certification@bcorporation.uk), pointing out that at least three fossil fuel companies advertising coal mines and oil production were touting for investment at the conference (BHP, ADX Energy, and Teck).

Published: 29/11/2023

Q&A proposed West Cumbria coal mine questions

Concerned you don't have all the details to talk to people on the street about the proposed West Cumbria coal mine? This page gives suggestion answers to some of the more detailed questions campaigners get asked about West Cumbria Mining Ltd's plans for Whitehaven. Have a look and see if they help you feel more confident speaking about this campaign.

They serve as guide answers, you may have your own.

What is proposed?

West Cumbria Mining Ltd want to mine 2.78 million tonnes of coal a year until 2049. The company aims to produce around 64 million tonnes of coal in total, from a predominantly undersea mine.

This would result in 0.34 million tonnes of methane being released during the process of mining, and a further 200 million tonnes of CO2 when the coal is burned. The methane would account for almost 40% to the UK’s fossil production methane emissions by 2030, putting critical methane targets at risk. The CO2 is equivalent to the United Arab Emirates' total 2021 emissions.

Potential questions, with answers

"We need the coal for power stations"

The coal is destined for foreign steelworks, it’s not the type normally used in power stations. The UK got less than 2% of its energy from coal last year, we don’t need more coal to keep lights on.

"We need the coal for UK steel making"

Almost all the coal would be exported. Both the UK’s major steelworks – at Port Talbot and Scunthorpe – have confirmed they will close their coal-based blast furnaces and install electric arc furnaces which recycle scrap steel without coal. At present this scrap steel is exported to be recycled abroad and then recycled steel is reimported. There is plenty of scope to increase UK-based recycling.

"The coal would be high quality"

Coal from Whitehaven is high in sulphur and causes acid rain when burnt. So its use is restricted by the UK and European Union. This means the coal is most likely to be sold to Turkey, outside the EU – a major steelmaker with lower pollution standards.

In order to reduce the sulphur content of the coal, it would need to be either blended with low sulphur coal, like that mined in Australia, or it would need to be ‘ barrel washed’. There’s no information from West Cumbria Mining Ltd on how washing would be done, or where the polluted waste from washing would go.

"You can’t make steel without coal"

The main way that new steel is made currently uses coal, but already 9% of steel is made by Direct Reduction which doesn’t need to use coal. Direct Reduction can use hydrogen (or fossil fuels, inc. coal). Only hydrogen made from renewables can be considered green.

In the UK there are already 4 steelworks that recycle scrap steel in electric arc furnaces and 2 major steelworks with blast furnaces which use large amounts of coal. The latter are the UK’s 2nd and 3rd biggest single site emitters of CO2. The blast furnace operators have agreed to convert to electric arc furnaces and stop using coal within the next few years, with one expected to convert in March 2024.

The UK government has been investing in carbon capture and storage projects, which have been unsuccessful in capturing significant quantities of greenhouse gasses. The UK is behind other European countries on investment in new green steel technology. There are new primary steel manufacturing methods that use green hydrogen with direct reduction iron that can be utilised in the UK if there was political will.

"You still need coal in electric arc furnaces (EAF)"

Although the lobby group UK Steel says 9kg of coking coal may be used in EAF to produce a tonne of steel (versus 780kg for a tonne of blast furnace steel), other sources of carbon are possible to completely exclude coal use, using the same infrastructure.

"You can’t always use recycled steel"

In the construction industry, steel is often over-supplied by as much as 50%. We can use far less to build the same amount of things. We need to employ engineers to more accurately calculate what is needed, and reduce the amount of raw materials produced.

Steel must be part of the circular economy, alongside reducing use and reusing it before recycling, rather than extracting more materials to make ever more goods.

Companies like Volvo, and top-end manufacturers like Porche, are demanding green steel for their cars. Advances in technology mean ever more metal is able to be recycled and progress in design can reduce contaminants in scrap metal.

"It would be a carbon-neutral mine"

Coal mines are not carbon-neutral. They release methane, a powerful greenhouse gas whilst coal is being mined and release CO2 when the coal is later burned.

Once coal is brought above ground it will be burnt, as companies can make a profit. So coal mined in West Cumbria would worsen climate change through increased coal use. Mining coal in Cumbria doesn't mean it will be left underground somewhere else, as companies with planning permission will sell everything they can having already invested in mines.

The International Panel on Climate Change says that we cannot be net-zero by 2050 if we open any more fossil fuel extraction sites and that we have to close some of the existing ones.

Gold Standard is the carbon offsetting company that West Cumbria Mining Ltd intended to pay to offset emissions from its proposed coal mine by planting trees or supporting renewable schemes. However, Gold Standard responded to this intention by saying “Our claims guidelines make it clear that to make an offset claim organisations should prioritise the avoidance and reduction of emissions – something that is clearly impossible for a coalmine”. Even if an offsetting company wanted this business, the coal mine’s methane emissions would not be offset.

"The methane will be captured"

West Cumbria Mining Ltd doesn’t intend to begin collecting methane released from the proposed coal mine until 5 years after the project starts. The majority of this highly potent greenhouse gas is released when the mine is first created, so even if methane capture equipment caught and burnt 100% of methane released (which it won’t) it will be too little, too late.

"We need the jobs"

Whitehaven may need more jobs but the jobs in this mine, were it to go ahead, would be very different to those in previous local mines. The project would be technologically advanced and employ far fewer people that mines traditionally. Most likely the company would bring in foreign workers, such as Australian miners experienced with ultra-modern mines.

Unionised green jobs can be created in Whitehaven with the right government support, such as for trades people insulating the poor quality housing stock, or improving public transport and doing good for the area as well as creating work. A Just Transition for Cumbria is crucial and means that the community is put at the heart of decisions and workers are leading their industries.

"People from out of the area can’t tell us what to do"

People living in Whitehaven are also concerned about the ecological and climate impacts that this mine would have. If the mine goes ahead, the coal will worsen climate change which affects us all. No-one in Cumbria wants to be flooded by increasingly heavy rains washing away soil in fields and devastating homes, nor to experience droughts brought on by extreme temperatures. Climate change will bring both.

"It’s a local mining company"

West Cumbria Mining Ltd is 81% owned by EMR Capital, a private equity investment fund that manages various mines, with offices in Australia, the Cayman Islands tax haven, and Singapore. The head of EMR Capital used to work for the infamous Rio Tinto. The investors in the project are predominantly from Australia and the USA. There are no local offices or employees of WCM Ltd.

"Mining is our heritage"

We can be proud of our mining heritage and still want a different future.

Our world has changed since coal mining brought stable work and the community of the pits. We no longer need to risk people’s lives in mining coal seems that we know to be gassy and dangerous—we have other ways to make steel and to heat homes.

"Contamination in proposed area"

The Marchon Bank Chemical works was closed in 2005. It had been a detergent factory, as well as the largest single-site producer of sulphuric acid in Europe and the largest single-site producer of Sodium Tripolyphospate in the world. There were also phosphoric acid plants.

The land was registered as contaminated. Although nothing changed at the site, the status was removed in 2013 when the site was approved for a biomass plantation and public access.

If mining were to go ahead, it would involve removing large concrete pads locking in the contamination at the site, this presents a risk of airbourne toxins. This is a risk, especially to the people living in the hundreds of new houses built around the northern and eastern perimeters of the site.

"They only want to dump nuclear waste"

The company that is behind West Cumbria Mining Ltd, EMR Capital, is a holdings company which buys global mining projects (not just for coal) and extracts minerals. If all the permissions and contracts are in place and the project is financially viable then coal mining will happen here.

It may be possible that once the site stops being economically viable or is sold to another company, that nuclear waste from Sellafield or further afield could be dumped in the dug out areas. We can’t assume that the only reason they want permission to mine is to dump nuclear waste, the opportunity to extract coal and turn a profit is too big to be ignored for nuclear waste dumping alone.

"There’s nothing that can be done to stop it"

There is not a coal mine on this site. There is still everything to play for.

To operate the project likely needs a license for the undersea section from the Marine Management Organisation – which could take a year to get from the time of application. There are other permissions and there has to be companies – including investors and insurance companies - prepared to aid a new coal mine in the 2020s. A new government could stop the application or the current legal challenge against its permission may force a new decision.

There’s lots we can still do. The last underground coal mine to be permitted in the UK, New Crofton Co-operative Colliery, never started.

"A coal mine needs insurance"

Coal mines have to obtain insurance to operate. If there is no insurance then there is no coal mine.

Financial firms and big investors won’t put money into a project which doesn’t have insurance to ensure that their investments are protected.

Campaigning to stop the insurance of fossil fuels keeps them in the ground

More details

www.coalaction.org.uk/west-cumbria-mine/

https://slacc.org.uk

https://www.cacctu.org.uk/climatejobs

What next?

We've designed cards that you can print at home with short summaries of these answers in case you'd feel happier talking to people about the proposed mine with a reminder with you. Download here.

Good luck

5 Insurers Rule Out Insuring The West Cumbria Mine

On Friday September 15th, as insurers and banks faced a wave of national protest, Coal Action Network announced that five insurers have given guarantees that they will not provide cover for the planned controversial West Cumbria Coal Mine.

The insurers that have ruled out underwriting the mine are AEGIS Managing Agency, Argenta Syndicate Management, Argo, Hannover Re and Talanx. These are the first financial institutions to rule out any involvement with the project, and the win represents a new phase in the campaign to stop the project from going ahead.

Global Fight to End Fossil Fuels on September 15-17th saw half a million people joining protests across the globe to call for a just transition away from coal, oil and gas in history, making it the largest climate mobilisation since the start of the pandemic. Over 400 actions, marches, rallies, and events took place around the world, coordinated by more than 780 endorsing organisations with millions of participants taking part. In the UK Protests took place in London, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, Birmingham, York, Wrexham, Cardiff, Shrewsbury and Croydon. Hundreds of campaigners from Extinction Rebellion, Mothers Rebellion and Coal Action Network took to the streets assembling with banners and placards, at the doors of financial institutions, yet to rule out supporting the proposed mine.

They were joined by Buddhist and Quaker groups and other members of the local community. Some groups took part in theatrical actions, dressing as canaries to draw the link between the birds used in mines and the toxicity this mine will bring, while others held silent vigils.

“No time for a coal mine” banners appear on all major roads into Cumbria

As thousands of visitors travelled into Cumbria for the busy August bank holiday they were met with a powerful statement: 25 large banners opposing the proposed new coal mine near Whitehaven with the words ‘NO TIME for a COAL MINE’.

The banners, which targeted all the major roads leading into Cumbria on Friday 25th August were unfurled by new anti-coal action group ‘No Time for a Coal Mine’. Leaflets were handed out in in Kendal, Carlisle, Keswick, Kirkby Lonsdale and Penrith and fly posters also appeared.

It is the latest in a series of actions against the proposed 2.78 million tonne-a-year mine which has met with significant local, national and international opposition.

Continues...

Sarah McGowan who was born in Whitehaven and took part in the action says, "We can all see the impacts of climate change. In Cumbria the summer has been a washout since June, while on the Hawaiian island of Maui people escaped firestorms by jumping into the sea. Meanwhile the IPCC has said we simply cannot afford to permit any new coal mines, the UK government is flying in the face of reason. Our banners show the strength of feeling against the coal mine and our determination to keep the coal in the ground. The mine must be stopped.”

West Cumbria Mining Ltd is looking to extract a total of 67 million tonnes of coking coal from under the seabed off Whitehaven right up to 2049. The vast majority of this coal would be exported to foreign steelworks, as it is too high in sulphur to comply with UK and European air pollution regulations.[1]

Continues...

Of the two existing UK steelworks using coal, Tata Steel alone could tolerate small amounts of coal from Whitehaven. Tata Steel is currently negotiating with government for subsidies to decarbonise, ending coal use, or it has threatened closure. If the project goes ahead, the Cumbrian coal would emit more than 200 million tonnes of CO₂, primarily from its use in blast furnaces. Its extraction would result in the release of around 334,000 tonnes of methane even if mine methane capture equipment is used (901,000 tonnes without capture).

So far, 2023 has seen the hottest global temperatures for June and July in recorded history. Hundreds of millions of people across the USA, Europe and Asia have been hit by extreme heat while deadly wildfires have raged through southern Europe, Canada, Russia, Hawaii and beyond.

Continues...

The government’s approval of this proposed mine faces two legal challenges, that was due to be heard in the High Court in October 2023. This has recently been delayed pending the outcome of a recent Supreme Court case relating to the oil wells at Horse Hill, Surrey (Finch v Surrey County Council). Both cases relate to consideration of end-use emissions in the Environmental Impact Assessment. If the Supreme Court decides that end-use emissions should be considered, this would greatly increase the chance of the government’s decision on the proposed mine being revoked.

Increasing global temperatures threaten food and water security for many millions of people, endanger lives and will
increase mass migration as areas around the world become uninhabitable. Globally, it is those who have done the least to cause the climate crisis who are already suffering the most.

The banners show the strength of public feeling against the government’s coal proposal, and highlights that there are many people prepared to take action to ensure that the coal remains underground at Whitehaven.

Reference

[1] Cumbria County Council Executive Director - Economy and Infrastructure, Development Control and Regulation Committee Application Reference No:4/17/90077.17

Hearing delayed - challenges against Whitehaven coal mine approval

The hearing of two legal challenges against the government's approval of a 2.78 million tonne a year coking coal mine has been delayed from October, likely into the new year.

Part of both challenges rely on the outcome of a separate judgement from the Supreme Court. A judgment is due on that landmark case, over the decision to allow oil drilling at Horse Hill in Surrey, brought by campaigner Sarah Finch on behalf of the Weald Action Group. The Horse Hill challenge was heard by the Supreme Court in June and the court has not yet given judgment.

According to Friends of the Earth "lawyers for Ms Finch argued that the environmental impact assessment (EIA) carried out by developers before planning permission was granted should have accounted for the climate impacts from burning the oil extracted at Horse Hill. These are known as ‘downstream’ or ‘Scope 3’ emissions and were not accounted for during the planning process."

"Downstream emissions are increasingly being left out of environmental impact assessments when planning applications are made for fossil fuel projects, despite the huge climate impacts these projects will inevitably create, the mounting climate crisis and the UK government’s stated commitment to net zero."

"If Ms Finch’s challenge is successful, with the court potentially ruling that decision makers need to take into consideration downstream emissions before approving planning applications, the outcome of the Horse Hill case could have major implications for the future of the Whitehaven coal mine. It could open up new grounds for lawyers to argue against the mine’s approval on the basis that downstream emissions were not considered."

"The Supreme Court is not expected to give its judgment until autumn 2023 at the earliest. When that does eventually happen, the High Court will then set a date for the Whitehaven hearing, but there is likely to be a gap of at least ten weeks between judgment and hearing. Lawyers for Friends of the Earth and SLACC therefore believe a 2024 Whitehaven hearing is increasingly likely." Further details from Friends of the Earth can be read here.

Originally the two legal challenges by South Lakes Action on Climate Change (SLACC) and Friends of the Earth were rejected. Then it was decided that the cases will be heard at what’s known as a ‘rolled up’ hearing which in practice this is the same as a trial. As long as permission is given in day one, the trial will last for three days. This was planned  to take place 24th to 26th October 2023. This will now not be heard until a later date.

Friends of the Earth and SLACC launched their legal challenges in January 2023 after Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, gave planning permission to the new coking mine in December 2022. The organisations were the 2 main parties opposing the coal mine at the planning inquiry which took place in September 2021.

SLACC and Friends of the Earth contend that Mr Gove failed to account for the significant climate impacts of the mine, including the acceptability of carbon credits to offset the mine’s emissions, the international precedent that opening a new mine would set and the impact of opening the mine on the global coal market. For further details of the challenges see https://www.coalaction.org.uk/2023/01/27/legal-challenges-whitehaven/