Notes from the West Cumbria Mining Inquiry
A fair-minded and reasonable person listening to the arguments advanced on both sides would concede that some of the points put forward both by objectors and supporters of the mine alike were stronger than others.
Most of those of us who support the mine, for instance, would not be in agreement with the one individual who put an "alternative point of view" than man-made climate change isn't real. That isn't our argument at all: we agree with government policy to stop burning coal in power stations and support this mine only because it is specifically for metallurgical coal to make steel, for which there is not yet a proven alternative.
On the other side of the argument, almost all those speakers against the mine who had made even the least actual knowledge of West Cumbria or who had made the slightest effort to engage with the people of West Cumbria agreed that there are areas of real poverty in and around Whitehaven and that there really is a desperate need for jobs in the areas.
Counsel for the main objectors, however, don't appear to have been listening even to their own side. They brought in a suppsed "expert" from a think tank based in London - I won't say any more about her because if I said what I think it would probably be actionable - and, both when presenting her evidence and cross-examining WCM witnesses attempted to use average data for Copeland or even Cumbria to disprove the argument that there is poverty here.
God save the mark!
Anyone who knows the first thing about West Cumbria knows that a quarter of the working population works in the Civil Nuclear Industry which is a very high wage industry indeed, and that completely distorts many average measures of prosperity for the area. But ward level data such that that published by Cumbria County Council's observatory shows that despite these average figures the area still includes some of the most deprived wards in the country.