UK's Nuclear Waste Dump Advisor Wants No Scrutiny Over Nuclear Impacts of His Coal Mine

Posted: 8th April 2024

Petition update

Marianne Birkby
Milnthorpe, United Kingdom
8 Apr 2024

Image: Seascale in the 1920’s pre Sellafield with bathing machines/huts. The coal mine would be to the left of the picture beneath the seabed and the far larger nuclear dump plan (1000m deep and 26km square or more)to the right also beneath the seabed.  The coal boss Mark Kirkbride is advising government on the nuclear dump


Dear Friends,

This is an update on what the nuclear waste dump advisor/coal boss is pushing for – namely no scrutiny over the marine impacts of his coal mine just five miles from the world’s riskiest nuclear waste site, Sellafield.

Below is a press release sent out today – be interesting to see if media actually pick it up or ignore.

With best wishes


Monday 8th April

Cumbrian Coal Mine Pushes Hard to Bypass Nuclear Aspects of Marine License

Campaigners have discovered that the Cumbrian coal mine, despite being subject to
two ongoing legal challenges is pushing to bypass any regulatory controls concerning
offshore extraction of coal under the Irish Sea off the Cumbrian coast.
Notwithstanding the legal challenges by South Lakes Action on Climate Change
and Friends of the Earth on climate impacts, West Cumbria Mining (WCM) are
pushing ahead to discharge the planning conditions put in place to mitigate a variety
of adverse impacts.

Planning Condition 22 states that “no construction works shall take place
until either a Marine Licence is granted or, if a licence is not required, that this
information has been submitted to and agreed in writing by the minerals planning
authority.” Freedom of Information requests by Friends of the Earth reveal that the
developers are lobbying the council’s planning authority (formerly Cumbria, now
Cumberland and Westmorland & Furness) in order to bypass the regulatory scrutiny of
a Marine License.

“Nuclear Impacts Ignored”
Radiation Free Lakeland (RFL), the nuclear safety group who were first to oppose the
coal mine in 2017, point out that “our most serious concerns remain the close
proximity to Sellafield, earthquake risks, subsidence and transboundary impacts. All of
these concerns have been brushed aside, firstly by Cumbria County Council and then
by the Planning Inquiry as being issues that “would be considered by the Marine
Management Organisation as part of the licensing process.”

New Coal Mine Like No Other in Proximity to Sellafield – can kicked down the road indefinitely
Despite the Planning Inspector and the Secretary of State stating that “potential
transboundary effects from the offshore components “would be considered” by the
MMO,” the developers clear aim is to bypass offshore regulatory controls includingnuclear safety aspects of their proposed coal mine just five miles from the worlds
 riskiest nuclear waste and plutonium site.

Clear and Present Danger Ignored
The nuclear impacts say RFL have “unlike
the blanket coverage of the mine’s climate impacts been given zero attention. That
avoidance looks like a deliberate and ongoing ploy despite the clear and present danger
to Cumbria and our European neighbours from a radiological catastrophe.”

“Rubber Stamp”
As revealed in the email correspondence seen by Friends of the Earth, the coal mine’s
push to be granted “a rubber stamp” hinges on section 66(1)(7) of the Marine and
Coastal Access Act 2009 that they will not “construct, alter or improve any works […]
under the seabed.” West Cumbria Mining justify this in a statement to the Marine
Management Organisation saying that: “On the basis that all WCM will do under the
seabed is extract coal (not construct, alter or improve anything at all), the Act cannot
apply.” This justification by the developers is at odds with reality. Mass voids under
the seabed created by extraction of coal will, according to WCM’s plans be backfilled.
The backfill would consist of poor-quality unsaleable coal and rock spoil crushed and
added to water and cement to be pumped into the voids in an attempt to mitigate
against subsidence of the seabed above the coal mine.

Above the Coal Mine, the Sellafield Mud Patch
Radiation Free Lakeland note
that the seabed here holds most of the radioactive burden from decades of Sellafield
discharge to the Irish Sea and is known as the Sellafield Mud Patch. Resuspension of
the silts would result in increased radiological burden to marine-life and humans.
Richard Outram of Nuclear Free Local Authorities has pointed out that: “surely they
(WCM) are ALTER-ing something under the seabed by extracting coal. The Oxford
English Dictionary defines an Alternation as ‘a change to something that makes it
different’. If the coal is there and is then no longer there then surely the geological
composition and structure beneath the seabed is being changed and thereby

Earthquake and Subsidence
Regarding earthquake risks from the coal mine the Planning Inspector in his
recommendation to Government stated: “the risk of a seismic event cannot be
ruled out.” However, the Planning Inquiry afforded “limited weight” to “future
seismic events” leaving this along with other impacts such as subsidence and
resuspension of radioactive wastes on the seabed from decades of Sellafield’s
discharges to scrutiny by the Marine Management Organisation.

Hair Raising Twist in the Tale
Radiation Free Lakeland say that yet another hair-raising twist in the tale of this coal
mine is the appointment of the coal boss, CEO Mark Kirkbride to the Committee on
Radioactive Waste Management in 2019. Kirkbride’s ongoing role in the Department for
Energy Security and Net Zero’s sponsored Committee is to advise Government on
construction of a deep geological disposal facility for the UK’s heat generating nuclear
wastes. Two of the three areas in the frame for a very deep nuclear facility for high level
nuclear wastes (South and Mid Copeland) are in West Cumbria. Coincidentally these
two areas are adjacent to Mark Kirkbride’s coal mine.


more info here

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