current location: current location:home page > Press center8 > Councillors advised to reject coal mine extension text

Councillors advised to reject coal mine extension

2023-06-02 09:48:52 source:CNN (Cable News Network) author:Press center7 click:297order

Controversial plans to extend the working life of the UK's largest opencast mine should be rejected, council planning officials have advised.

The operators of Ffos-y-Fran mine near Merthyr Tydfil want to keep excavating coal until the end of March 2024.

But a report published ahead of a planning committee meeting next week says councillors should turn them down.

The company operating the mine has been asked to comment.

Planning permission for coalmining at Ffos-y-Fran expired on 6 September 2022 after 15 years.

But days before the deadline, Merthyr (South Wales) Ltd said it was seeking an extension - initially for nine months, then subsequently amended to 18.

It also wanted to push back the date for final restoration of the site to 30 June 2026.

This would allow for a further 240,000 tonnes of coal to be extracted and offer time to prepare a revised plan for the site restoration due to "insufficient funds" having been set aside, the company said.

The Welsh government's coal policy prevents the development of any new coal mines or the expansion of existing ones apart from in "wholly exceptional circumstances".

The company operating the mine argued it should be considered "nationally significant" due to its role in supplying a local source of coal for Tata's Port Talbot steelworks.

But Judith Jones, head of planning at Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council (MTCBC), said in a report that the applicant did not qualify.

The mine claimed that the carbon footprint of transporting coal from Ffos-y-Fran to Port Talbot was five times less than exporting it from countries like Venezuela or Australia, but had not supported this with "any definitive evidence", she said.

"On that basis, it cannot be concluded that the extraction is needed in the context of decarbonisation and climate change emission reductions targets."

Claims that the applicant could not adequately fund the restoration of the site were also dismissed.

The report concluded that "no local or community benefits would be provided that clearly outweigh the disadvantages of the lasting environmental harm of the development."

The council's planning committee will meet on Wednesday 26 April to discuss the application, more than seven months after it was submitted.

Climate campaigners said last week they were considering legal action over claims of ongoing mining on the site.

Haf Elgar, director of Friends of the Earth Cymru, said the organisation was "very pleased" with Merthyr Tydfil council's assessment.

"This has gone on for long enough and must be stopped now - for the sake of local residents suffering from the impacts of noise and air pollution, and for the sake of the planet," she said.

"We're in a climate emergency and coal is part of our heritage not our future. We urge councillors in Merthyr to follow their officers advice at their meeting next week and reject this application."

A spokesperson for Merthyr (South Wales) Ltd said: "As we have received confirmation that solicitors are involved for the campaigners and proceedings are being contemplated we consider it inappropriate to comment at this point."

author:Press center8
headline news
News Rankings