Saturday, August 31, 2019

Quote of the day 31st August 2019

"I don't know enough about the details"

(Sir David Attenborough admits to the News and Star that while he "thinks" he is opposed to the West Cumbria Mining proposals for a new coal mine in Whitehaven, his opposition is not based on a fully-informed knowledge of the "complicated" facts,)


Jim said...

Whats wrong with that? its actually a very sane position. I would think I would be opposed too if underground coal mining is as dangerous as it was in 1910 when 136 people lost their lives in Wellington. Or in 1947 when 104 lives were lost in William. So give me more details on what will be done to make the place much safer, and I am willing to change my position. Its actually a very sensible approach.

Gary Bullivant said...

On the other hand it's also the approach of those of us who loudly support the mine but who don't work for WCM, because they aren't fully informed of the complicated facts either. Plenty of assertions about local jobs and trickle down expenditure but try holding them to any of that if it ever does get further funding. We have been told it's mainly metallurgical coal out there under territorial waters but that's based on a few score lines of historic scanning and six recent sample holes. Yes, Alexey Mordashev may have turned up in his boat to show conspicuous support to his mates from New Century Media and to add some sort of spurious credibility. Those charlatans from British Steel may have done the same in return for using Redcar BHT, before going bust of course. Unfortunately, neither "deals" add much to our understanding so we are in the same position as Sir David when it comes to taking a view on this Australian/Hong Kong/Cayman Islands/Singapore funded highly speculative venture.

Chris Whiteside said...

Oh, give me strength.

I give him credit for admitting that the issue was complicated and that he knew very little about the details of the proposals.

Unfortunately, as you know very well, what will happen is that lots of people with an agenda will be ready to quote the fact that a national treasure like David Attenborough said he doesn't like the idea of the mine but not that he only "thinks" he is against it, or that he admitted that it is complicated, or that he admitted that he doesn't know any of the details.

I made this my quote of the day not to criticise Sir David Attenborough but because I think it is important that people should be aware of that context to his opinions.

Chris Whiteside said...

So who is better informed?

Well for a start, the Conservative, Labour, Lib/Dem and Independent councillors who unanimously voted to approve the plans, who had presumably all read the 188 page report which was the result of two years of very detailed investigation by County Council officers into every aspect of the plans ...

(I have repeately linked to it on this blog, it is still available at

... and who had also just sat through about six hours of presentations from officers and consultants on that report and from opponents and supporters of the application.

So actually I do think those councillors were in a better position to make a judgement on the plans that anyone who has the honesty to admit that they don't know the details.

I have the impression from what he actually said, which of course did not appear in the headlines, that Sir David Attenborough himself would be the first to agree with that.

Chris Whiteside said...

And no, underground coal mining today is not remotely as dangerous as it was in the era when it killed hundreds of residents of men, women and children in Whitehaven.

Health and safety issues were addressed in paragraphs 6.478 to 6.480 on page 84 of the report I linked to above, including the safety issues around existence of historic mine workings in the area and proximity to Sellafield. The Coal Mining Authority asked for and were given a Risk Assessment and having reviewed it, confirmed that they did not object to the proposals.

Jim said...

You are asking for stregnth??? Not making sense there.

And when he said what he did, David Attenborough had not read the document, by his own admission. Honestly I really can not see your point here.

Honestly. Coal mining was always very dangerous, so I think I am against you doing it, but I dont know the details on this so if you can prove its safer then I will change my position.

oh, you can prove it, can i see it please? oh thank you very much

yes it seems that all is more in order than I thought now that I do have the info.

AGAIN, Where is the problem?

Chris Whiteside said...

Why does there need to be a problem?

There isn't a problem with what David Attenborough actually wrote or with it being reported in full and in context.

I was trying to draws attention to his full remarks and that context.

What I actually do have a problem with is not what he wrote but with the headlines which were, and probably were always going to be, put on reports of his letter.

I suppose I should be grateful that the News and Star did at least bother to put what he actually wrote in the body of their article so that those who bothered to read the whole thing could learn the context to his remarks.