Press release from Leigh Day

Cumbrian campaign group granted permission for judicial review of County Council’s approval of coal mine

Campaign Group, Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole, have been granted permission for a judicial review of Cumbria County Council’s decision to allow the first deep coal mine in 30 years in the UK to be built.

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole (KCCH), are challenging Cumbria County Council’s Development Control and Regulation Committee’s decision to resolve to grant planning permission for a major new underground metallurgical coal mine on the former Marchon Chemical Works site in Whitehaven, Cumbria. The judicial review will be heard at the High Court in Manchester on a date yet to be set.

KCCH is an active environmental campaign group in the local area, and was one of the leading objectors to the planning application focussing its objections on the proximity of the coal mine site to the nuclear facility at Sellafield.

Cumbria County Council resolved to grant planning permission following a unanimous vote on 19 March 2019.  On 20 June 2019, Leigh Day wrote to Cumbria County Council. The letter addressed a number of legal issues, including Cumbria County Council’s failures to consider:

  • Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of the mining operations
  • The need for, and GHG impacts of, Middlings Coal
  • The Government’s Net Zero target.

Despite being alerted to those concerns, Cumbria County Council ratified its decision on 31 October 2019. Mrs Justice Beverley Lang has now agreed that those legal issues are arguable and justify a public hearing.

Marianne Birkby from KCCH, said:

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole are delighted we are able to bring this Judicial Review in order to challenge the decision made by Cumbria County Council to approve the first deep coal mine in decades. This legal challenge is only happening because of the ongoing determination of our campaigning and the huge generosity of everyone who has donated to the crowd-funder.‘.

Rowan Smith, solicitor at law firm Leigh Day, who is representing Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole, with Anna Dews and Carol Day from Leigh Day, said:

We are pleased that the High Court has granted our client permission for a judicial review of Cumbria County Council’s decision to allow this coal mine development. This legal action shines a light on how all local planning authorities should assess the climate change impacts of development of this nature, particularly with the backdrop of the UK Parliament declaring a climate emergency and the Government’s commitment to ensuring that the Net Zero target is reached by 2050.

We are in the middle of a climate crisis, and our clients have worked tirelessly to bring this issue into the public domain. There will now be full legal scrutiny of the climate change impact of this proposal, which is estimated to translate to 420 million tonnes CO₂e even without taking into account the emissions arising from the extraction process.‘.

David Wolfe QC from Matrix chambers and Merrow Golden from Francis Taylor Building chambers are instructed.


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3 Replies to “Press release from Leigh Day”

  1. To put this in perspective, from the Guardian:

    "The £165m Woodhouse colliery was backed by Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat councillors, who said it would bring vital jobs to the area. Copeland’s Conservative MP Trudy Harrison has “wholeheartedly” endorsed the proposed undersea mine, saying the investment it would bring to the area was crucial.

    The developer West Cumbria Mining Limited said the site, along the coast from Whitehaven, would process 2.5m tonnes of coking coal a year for the UK and European steel industry, replacing imports from the US, Canada, Russia and Columbia.

    To mitigate some of the impact of the plant on the environment, the owners have agreed a deal for a 50 megawatt solar farm nearby to provide about a third of the project’s energy needs.

    The mine is due to begin production in about two years’ time, subject to environmental certificates, and is expected to employ 500 people, with an estimated 2,000 more jobs created in its supply chain."

  2. Good arguments on both sides as we all use steel.
    Again it's just use less ,recycle more and maybe find alternative fuels for steel making
    Personally I wouldn't want to work in a deep coal mine (having gone down one in Coalville, Leicestershire on a school trip, well done Wellingborough Grammar school I bet they don't do that anymore!)
    but it's fairly well paid and much better than being unemployed.

  3. That's the thing about Mark's blog ,it makes you think about stuff.
    Can you decarbonise steel production.
    apparently, yes.


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