Happy Birthday to Baarbaara The Sheep (BBTS) Publications – Let the Tails Continue – Part 1

Today is the first day of the 5th year of BBTS publications – Not bad for a sheep – My work involves writing/editing and publishing. I also help people to understand the process of Self – Publishing or Indie Publishing as it has become popularly known. As little as 6 years ago Indie Publishing was frowned upon, thankfully today people’s views have changed for the better.If you would like more information on my services please email me at: baarbaarathesheep@hotmail.co.uk

What began as a one off publication, ‘Save Our Valleys – A Sheep’s Tail,’ printed and bound from the comfort of my field, has become a proper entrepreneurial adventure. After encouragement from friends and local people, I published the book via the Createspace Platform on Amazon.

The book was written to raise awareness of a local campaign group,  (UVAG) United Valley’s Action Group, who were opposing a proposal for an incinerator on the mountain at Ffos Y Fran, Cwmbargoed. Details of the successful campaign can be read at the following links:

Wales Online – Incinerator Battle Goes To Downing Street

Covanta Drops Incinerator Plans

Initially I wrote a story about the animals from the mountain helping the campaigners with their fight. This was to try and encourage younger people to get involved. Due to its political nature, no publisher would get involved, that is how I came to self-publish. The book now sits on the library shelves in Caerphilly County Borough.

Complete Cover Save Our Valleys

Click on the Image to view the book on Amazon

The second publication was a poetry anthology by locals to raise money for another, ongoing, fight. A new opencast mine opposite the existing black hole at Ffos Y Fran. Nant Llesg is an untouched site of natural beauty. The habitat is perfect for migrating birds. Rhaslas pond, situated in the middle of the site is of historical interest as well as being a spectacularly beautiful part of the area. Despite Caerphilly Council’s unanimous decision against the proposal in August 2015, the company involved, Nant Llesg Ltd, a subsidiary of Miller Argent, have decided to appeal. The most recent opposal by UVAG has been against Nant Llesg Ltd’s intention to fence off the area.

Rhaslas Pond Blog and Photos

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More about the Campaign (Americymru)

Black Hole Cover Image

Click on Image to view book on Amazon

Details of the ongoing campaign by UVAG against Nant Llesg can be read on the links below:

Best Outcome for Anti-Opencast Campaigners

Wales Online – Thousands Pen Objection Letters

Victory to Anti Opencast Campaigners

After the success of the first two books, I was encouraged to go to University by a friend of mine who had just completed her BA Honours in Creative and Professional Writing. To be honest, I didn’t think I stood a chance of getting in. The last time I attended school was over 30 years ago. But to my surprise I was accepted on the initial course which was a two year foundation degree in English and History at Lambridge University, formerly Glamorgan, Treforest, and now known as The University of South Wales.

 

Part 2 coming soon…. Watch this space.

 

 

 

 

 

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UPDATE! Nant Llesg Victory – Objections urgently needed against new proposal to fence off the area!!!

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After the second hearing in August, Anti-opencast campaigners were delighted that the local counsellors upheld their unanimous decision to vote against the Nant llesg surface mine proposal. Miller Argent (Nant Llesg Ltd.) put in an appeal just prior to Christmas. But this is where things get strange. It has been confirmed that Miller Argent have […]

Victory to Anti – Opencast Campaigners – NO to Nant Llesg

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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
  • Biodiversity
  • Water pollution
  • Visual impact
  • Light pollution
  • Noise
  • Dust
  • Climate change
  • Tourism

  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. 

Visit Caerphilly.com       

Actor Michael Sheen Attends UVAG meeting at The Blast Pontlottyn

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On the 15th September 2014, Director and Producer for BBC Wales: Sian Roderick attended a United Valleys Action Group meeting at The Blast Furnace in Pontlottyn.  Sian was interested in the group’s present (Anti -Opencast, Nant Llesg) and previous campaigns (Covanta – Anti-Incinerator – and Ffos- y Fran – Anti-Opencast), with a view to including the […]

Rhaslas Not just a pond

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I am re-posting this poem, as I visited Rhaslas last night and the beauty of it is quite extraordinary, the picture above is courtesy of Eddy Blanche who lives in Fochriw, which is one of the nearest villages to the planned opencast mine extension. 

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“I sit beside this vast expanse of water, my vision completely encompassed with glittering blue, I blink and look up to the sunshine, before I lose myself, before I become magnetised by flickers of sunlight upon a moving mass of beauty.

I cannot comprehend why anyone would take away this marvel, a glory in it’s own right, but also a home to many, those around, and those who remain out of sight for fear of repercussions, a nest with eggs of lapwing can be stolen for a price, or for a meal for a hungry fox or badger.

Others come for the fishing, the elegant heron, like a dinosaur in flight, but oh so graceful, the ducks they love Rhaslas for they can dive the bottom for fish, for it is a rare pond, of shallow depth, no more than six in foot.

The algae and the pond weed is food fit for the gods, and sustains many types of wildlife, and the view of the pond and it’s inhabitants sustains the soul.

I beg of you sit there for an hour, on a sunny or cloudy day, sit on the bank and listen, and look out at the sights, if I am not mistaken you will feel rejuvenated and new, and above all you will know that I have told the truth to you.”

 

dharma2012

 

United Valleys Action Group won the day…..

baarbaarathesheep | Books, sheep, animals, stories, learning, poetry, Authors.

This Video shows the courage and determination that members of UVAG (United Valleys Action Group) and local communities, that pulled together to stop a Monster Incinerator being built in their Valley, with the help of Friends of the Earth they fought and won…

Merthyr Poet Mike Jenkins on the FFos Y Fran opencast which they are trying to extend to Nnant Llesg

Introducing Mike Jenkins as one of our Judges for the up coming Poetry Competition Anthology “The Black Hole” many thanks for agreeing to judge, obviously it is a subject close to your own heart. 

Closing date isn’t until 30th June 2012 details are on this blogsite or baarbaarathesheep.com

A statement and poem by Merthyr poet Mike Jenkins:

At times I feel the exact opposite to ‘Famous’ Seamus’s dictum that all poetry proceeds from a received tradition. Sometimes I’m totally with the Beats and the notion that poetry’s like be-bop jazz : you begin with an image , but have no idea where you’re going to or when it will end. Like Kerouac’s prose, it can blow hot or cold, but I’m excited by this because a poem can take over like that music and carry you away to places you never imagined journeying to.
The closest I’ve come to it musically is jamming on the blues harp, all brought back by last weekend’s annual visit to my beloved Aberystwyth and the great cameraderie of old Uni. mates ( who weren’t the jammers, but knew them). Inspired by a purpley haze we’d jam on the grass by the castle ; but, above all, there was our drunken return to my digs where myself ( blues harp, key of E ), Scouse Pete ( boogie piano and darts ) and Red Mal ( acoustic guitar and occasional vomit) would extemporize into the early hours. Luckily, there was no audience!


Poetry, however, requires a degree of sobriety and with an idea based on observing the filming of ‘Dagenham Girls’ in the now derelict Hoover factory in Merthyr, I had the rough outline of a poem in my head, which would switch from location to location in Merthyr examining the possibilities. I never expected it to work out as apocalyptic and, retrospectively, I attribute that to Ffos-y-fran.


I’m plagued by this huge opencast site overlooming the town like the numerous coal and lime tips of old. It seems to demonstrate how little we’ve advanced, how we’re still exploited for the ‘black stuff’ despite all the cosmetic greening. They would not allow such a site ( due to last at least 13 years ) in the leafy lanes of Radyr and Creigiau.


In the 80’s, I led a campaign against opencasting and my most distinct memory is of a large public meeting at Merthyr College addressed by representatives of Celtic Energy, who were ready to opencast south of where I live. One man stood up and spoke most eloquently and emotionally – ‘ We’ve paid our price for coal at Aberfan. Surely, we should pay no more!’


Opencast is full of dirt, noise, dust and diesel fumes : it’s an environmental catastrophe. Moreover, it reinforces our reliance on power-station coal at a time when we must look to sustainable alternatives. It puts off other, cleaner industries from investing in communities.


I cannot escape Ffos-y-fran. Over a year ago, I wrote a poem about the writer George Monbiot and other campaigners who dressed as polar bears and chained themselves to the machinery there. The land at the back of my house, know as the Waun, is under constant threat of opencasting. Both our AM Huw Lewis and MP Dai Havard have consistently failed to oppose its scourge. Hopefully, the Climate Camp, soon to be set up, will be a symbol of resistance.

 

MERTHYR FILM SETS


What about Ffos-y-fran
as a new planet for ‘Doctor Who’,
one called Devastation
with mutant creatures
trying to take over the Earth
with their poisonous dust?

What about all the empty shops
like Woolies being scenes
of an Apocalypse, after
the poison has spread
and many people are dead?

What about our politicians
suddenly appearing from Penarth and Afghanistan
like aliens in the town
baffled at the emptiness ?

What about the heroin addicts
with starved and young-old faces,
with craters in their eyes
full of that dust
and unable to cry?

What about those with metal sticks
as extra limbs prodding the pavements
and others hauling their own flesh
like bags of frozen food stitched
beneath elastic waists ; all searching
for a place not contaminated?

What about the cameras above the streets
recording ,unedited, as the rats and pigeons
scavenge on all the droppings
of the last people to leave
before the roller-blinds come down
and everything’s sucked into a black hole above town?

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