What will our legacy be to the next generation in West Cumbria?

Leaving a positive legacy for our children and grandchildren is a basic desire for caring individuals and communities. There is no doubt that West Cumbria has the best intentions for the next generation.

A valuable legacy would include good health, prosperity, a pleasant environment, and the respect of our neighbours locally, nationally and globally. Economic security is a gift which carries great weight, leaving us satisfied that our children will thrive and our community will prosper when we are gone.

With this in mind, it is worth considering the impact that a deep coal mine would have on workers and their families. The long-lasting health issues associated with mining haven’t disappeared with modern techniques. The Nursing Times offers advice regarding the diagnosis of skin and lung conditions (malignant and non-malignant) which continue to surface years after pits were closed. Medics are advised to enquire about habitual exposure to solvents, fuels, chemicals, coal and silicon dust and diesel particulate matter, to name but a few of the occupational hazard common to mining.

Dermatitis became more prevalent as working practices developed with the use of mechanical aids.

There is an ominously long list of lung conditions affecting not only miners, but their families and surrounding community, due to air pollution. Associated lung diseases include pneumaconiosis, cancer of the pleura, emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Britain is now facing a future in which long-term lung damage relating to the Covid-19 pandemic seems set to draw on the stretched resources of our precious NHS which has served us heroically through this crisis. Introducing another demand onto the NHS would be irresponsible and dismissive of their efforts.

If Woodhouse Colliery becomes a reality, we in West Cumbria are accepting a short-term solution to unemployment, which could have long-term detrimental effects for us all. What we need and deserve are long-term jobs which don’t carry a legacy of ill health and division.

We know how the close-knit mining communities have suffered previously when pits were closed. Many have never recovered. To endorse a project which we know will end in less than a working lifetime doesn’t make sense.

We should instead be calling for a future fit for our grandchildren. There is potential for 3,500 jobs in renewable electricity generation in West Cumbria, leading us forward toward health and prosperity, rather than the backward step offered by coal mining with built-in redundancy.