Good Law Project is supporting a legal challenge to close down, with immediate effect, an illegal opencast coal mine in Merthyr Tydfil. The non-profit organisation is working with the campaign group, Coal Action Network, and local residents to get the Ffos-y-Fran coal mine shut down.
In September 2022, planning permission for the mine ended. However, the company, Merthyr (South Wales) Ltd, continues to extract coal illegally.
Coal Action Network estimates that since that time, the mining company has extracted around 281,652 tonnes of coal illegally, adding up to 885,557 tonnes of CO2 to the atmosphere. The mine produces an average of 875 tonnes of coal per day, which is the equivalent of burning up to over a million litres of petrol daily.
Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council failed to stop the mining activity after planning permission ended. However, it was compelled to take action after local residents, together with Coal Action Network, gathered evidence showing that the mine was still operating.
It was not until May this year that the council issued an enforcement notice to Merthyr (South Wales) Ltd. The company has since appealed and whilst this is being considered, coal continues to be extracted from the site.
Good Law Project and Coal Action Network have now sent a legal letter to the council and Welsh Ministers asking for a ‘stop notice’ to be issued by 1 August 2023 at the latest.
Legal Manager at Good Law Project, Jennine Walker, said, “It is hard to believe that in the UK today, a company can continue to mine coal illegally – because their planning permission has expired – in broad daylight, for over nine months. Yet this is what is happening now at Ffos-y-Fran, at a huge cost not only to local residents and the local environment but to the whole country because of the high level of greenhouse gas emissions caused in this time of global heating.
“Good Law Project is proud to be working with Coal Action Network, who, thanks to our backing, will now be able to take the local council and Welsh Ministers to court if needed to finally put an end to this illegal mining.”
Local residents, Chris and Alyson Austin, said, “The opencast coal mine at Ffos-y-Fran has been an awful neighbour to us across the years, far worse than we expected it to be. The noise and dust for 15-16 hours a day, just 300 metres from our doorstep, was beyond our worst nightmares.
“This mine has been a local and environmental disaster for 16 years; it’s time to bring it to an end for the benefit of us all.
“The latest issues of working without planning consent and beyond the agreed boundary with tacit government approval is just an extension of the way this mine has been worked and supported throughout its existence.”
Daniel from Coal Action Network said, “The Welsh Government has evidence-based, progressive policies to rule out new coal mines and extensions within Wales – but policies are only meaningful to the extent that they are acted upon, something the Welsh Government has spectacularly failed to do for over 10 months.
“If Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council is refusing to implement Welsh Government policy, then the Welsh Government needs to do so swiftly and decisively by finally bringing Merthyr (South Wales) Ltd to heel with a Stop Notice.”