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Secretary of State can call-off expensive mine public enquiry PDF Print E-mail
Written by John Walsh   
Monday, 29 March 2021

kwasi karteng.pngA letter sent to Secretary of State Kwasi Kwarteng argues that the minister has within his remit the power to avoid the unnecessary expense of a public inquiry into the Cumbrian coal mine.  

Instead of a public inquiry, the letter says, the coal mine should be immediately blocked by the Secretary of State.

Groups as diverse as the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and The Sea Horse Trust along with leading academics have signed the letter to the Secretary of State for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy.  

Those signatures include Dr Paul Dorfman, UCL Energy Institute and David Smythe, Emeritus Professor of Geophysics, University of Glasgow. 

Originating from grass roots campaign group, Radiation Free Lakeland, the letter also includes Whitehaven residents and asks that the Secretary of State puts his recent words, that there are “very compelling reasons” to block the mine, into action.   

Radiation Free Lakeland reveal that as Secretary of State for BEIS, Kwasi Kwarteng MP has it within his remit to order the Coal Authority not to renew developers West Cumbria Mining's now expired conditional licenses. 

The letter says: "This would save the public purse the huge expense of a public inquiry and send a strong message to the UK and our international neighbours that BEIS is committed to both climate and nuclear safety.  

“The significant climate impacts of this coal mine would be exactly the same anywhere else in the UK. 

“But this coal mine is not anywhere in the UK. It would be largely subsea, off the West Coast of Cumbria; would extend to within five miles of the world’s riskiest nuclear waste site and be directly under a massive nuclear waste dump known as the Sellafield Mud Patch. 

“The Sellafield Mud Patch is the result of decades of the nuclear waste site's discharges now largely immobilised in silts which would be at high risk of resuspension following “expected subsidence” from the proposed coal mine”. 
Also revealed in the letter is the growing controversy over the fact that the mine itself would be adjacent to the area being promoted as a possible Geological Disposal Facility for heat generating nuclear wastes under the Irish Sea.   

The Department of Business Energy and Industrial Strategy's wide-ranging responsibilities include the provision of and management of the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM).  

The CEO of the coal mine Mark Kirkbride has been appointed by BEIS to CoRWM (Nov 2019) to advise government on ‘Delivery” of a Geological Disposal Facility (GDF).  

The proposed coal mine would make a void of 136 Million square metres immediately adjacent to the Government’s “possible” subsea GDF site.   
Radiation Free Lakeland fear that these are key issues which should be, but are not likely to be, within the remit of a forthcoming public inquiry which would focus on planning rather than issues of governance and nuclear safety.   

The nuclear safety group whose Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole campaign has seen the coal mine plan repeatedly delayed, argue that the public inquiry should be superceded by the Secretary of State blocking the Coal Authority's renewal of the developer's license to drill.  
In a final twist the letter reveals that the public have already paid out  millions for this coal mine - to be precise  £2.5 Million in Heritage Lottery Funds for the Haig Colliery Mining Museum which was then given to the developers for £1 courtesy of the Coal Authority/BEIS handing the developers a pre-emption right.    
The letter concludes: “Leading Cumbrian Councillors had already reassessed their former support for the mine and voted “no.”   

“Through this No vote they have voiced their opposition alongside leading academics, scientists, politicians, the public and many organisations.    

“We urge you to honour the wishes of leading Cumbrian councillors and the millions of people represented by this letter and block this coal mine. The reasons for doing so are not just “compelling" they are overwhelming.  The mine could be stopped tomorrow and the buck stops with BEIS." 




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