In this blog we consider the end of an era for coal mining in Wales.
There are currently new proposed planning rules in Wales to ban mining, which are due to be finalised by the Welsh Government by the end of 2018 and will only allow permission to mine under exceptional circumstances.
Current mining in Wales
There are two major opencast mining operations currently in production in Wales. One is located at Ffos y Fran, which is north-east of Merthyr Tydfil in South Wales, and the other is located at East Pit, which is situated on the northern outcrop of the South Wales coalfield in the upper Amman Valley.
It is clear that banning coal mining is going to affect the community in many ways, some for the better and some for the worst and inevitably has divided opinions.
The new proposals
The draft planning policy of the Welsh Government says: “Proposals for opencast, deep-mine development or colliery spoil disposal should not be permitted’’. Only in wholly exceptional circumstances will proposals be put forward and they would need to demonstrate why they are needed in the context of climate change emissions reductions targets and for reasons of national energy security.
The new policy would affect new applications while existing licenses would be allowed to run their course. This proposal takes a far harder line compared with the existing guidance which says: “While UK coal is available and the generators continue to choose it, UK coal contributes to energy diversity and supply”.
Hal Elgar, director of Friend of the earth Cymru said ‘’this is a historical moment. This is the end of coal for Wales after a long association and history’’. Hal Elgar expressed the point that we must all be aware of global responsibility and the impact coal has had over the years on the environment. She also made the point that we all need to play a part to reduce carbon emissions and be globally responsible.
On the other hand, Chairman of Tower Colliery, Tyrone O’Sullivan had a different view. Mr O’Sullivan is in the process of restoring his own opencast site after 6 years of production and stated that the decision to ‘sacrifice’ coal was a mistake. He made the point that in 25 years’ time, unless something special is found, we will be developing coal again because the world requires energy.
As we move away from traditional fossil fuels towards more eco-friendly forms of energy, the question to be answered is: ‘will this really be the end of an Era for mining in Wales or will we ever go back to traditional coal mining again?’
It seems unlikely, however will we find other resources that provide energy to us like coal has for many years?
Jordans Solicitors has a department working with ex coal miners looking into their Vibration White Finger claims as it has come to light that many miners missed out on £1000’s. If you’re an ex miner and think you may have a claim, contact a member of our VWF team free on 03303 001103 or request a call back.