After years of campaigning against a new opencast mine in the Rhymney, Fochriw, Bedlinog, Pontlottyn. Deri, Abertwsswg, Valley campaigners were delighted with the decision by the local council planning committee to recommend against the development unanimously.
Passionate speeches from members of UVAG, GVA, FOE, RSPB and local community representatives covered the following issues in relation to the detrimental effects of opencast mining:
- Health and well being
- Loss of clean jobs and future inward investment
- Wildlife habitat
- Water pollution
- Visual impact
- Light pollution
- Climate change
Those who spoke up against the mine covered all issues through thorough factual research:
United Valleys Action Group (UVAG). Some of their members having experienced first hand the detrimental effect of a mine close to their community in Merthyr. The existing mine at Ffos Y Fran has caused nothing but hardship since it opened in 2006. Dust and noise prevail despite Miller Argent’s promise that the mine would have no impact. The desecration and visual impact on the area has to be seen to be believed.
Green Valleys Alliance (GVA). Local business man Mitchell Field has supported the campaign all along. He has put his money where his mouth is and paid for studies undertaken by Cardiff University to look into the lack of inward investments to areas that have opencast mines. After thirty years in the area his business, Richards & Appleby, which makes cosmetics for outlets that include Harrods, was under threat.
If the mine went ahead job losses for locals would have devastated the communities. He can now plan to bring back an investment which went to Italy which could create another 50 jobs.
Friends of the Earth (FOE) have worked closely with campaigners from the time that the existing mine in Ffos Y Fran was put forward in 2006.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has released facts about the detriment of unseen airborne particles and diesel fumes from the monstrous Komatsu trucks used on site.
Climate Change Cymru have documented the adverse effects of carbon emissions from digging and burning coal.
RSPB are concerned for the loss of natural habitat for birds which nest, wade and use the area as a migratory path. These include: Lapwing, Ring Plovers, Great Crested Grebes, Dunlin, Curlews, Snipe, Skylarks, Meadow Pipit, Reed buntin, Moorhen. Also the Long Billed Dowatcher has been spotted by the many ornithologists which frequent the area around Rhas Las pond.
On the small ponds there are many species of Dragon Fly and Damsel Fly. Great Crested Newts, a protected species, have also been spotted in Rhas Las. Rhas Las pond is the largest remaining feature of the Dowlais Free Drainage system. it was built around 1818 and was used to feed water to the various local iron works as well as Fochriw and Rhymney pit engines. In later years it was also used by the Ebbw Vale steel works. Since being de-industrialised Rhas Las has become an integral part of the moorland eco-environment. The unique, marshland and moorland habitat to the South, West and East has been untouched since time began.
The water from the Nant Llesg stream was used to make beer by the Rhymney Brewery because of its high quality and purity. This would be spoiled or completely destroyed.
There are also many historical stories attached to the area that is under threat:
The Bargoed History Society produced a book last year telling the story of King Arthur’s time in the area, The Coming of Caliburn. This was supported and funded by Caerphilly Council.
Today International Financiers are disinvesting from coal. Last month the G7 under the chair of Angela Merkel stated their intention to stop burning coal in the next decade. Global warming caused by burning fossil fuels is causing untold world suffering among the poor in the third world.
It was suggested that Caerphilly County Borough Council live up to their slogan, A Greener Place to Live, Work and Visit, and turn Nant Llesg into a nature reserve extending from the Brecon Beacons National Park to the North and Parc Cwm Darran, itself a former colliery, to the South. This would attract much needed tourism to the area.