Today (17th July 2012) sees the launch of a new campaign group that aims to convince political decision makers of the strength of feeling in the upper Rhymney valley against proposals to develop a huge open cast mine at Nant Llesg - just metres away from the town of Rhymney.
Over the coming weeks, the Green Valleys Alliance will raise awareness of the real impact of the proposed open cast mine at Nant Llesg and take up the fight on behalf of local people who feel that proposals for the development of a second open cast mine, a few miles east of Merthyr’s controversial Ffos-y-Fran mine, represent a serious risk to the future of the area.
The proposals are currently being taken forward by the same Scottish developer, Miller Argent, and would see 3,000 acres of land set aside, within which the surface mining of 7-9 million tonnes of coal will take place over a period of around 20 years. The mining process itself would create a series of 150ft high ‘overburden dumps’ (a mixture of top soils and low quality coal), which will contribute to a constant stream of coal dust particles that will be blown by prevailing winds across the town.
Campaign spokesman Mitchell Field, who employs 140 people at Rhymney-based cosmetics business Richards & Appleby Ltd, started researching the impact open cast mines when he first became aware of the proposals in 2011. Nine months on, having received the backing of his own staff, local businesses, community groups and a number of political figures, he insists that it is time for the community to have its say;
“We have listened to the proposals by Miller Argent, including all the efforts they plan to reduce the impact of the pollution the mine will create, and from every perspective we can only see a negative impact for the town of Rhymney and all the people who live and work here,” explained Mr Field.
“All the evidence we can find from looking at similar mines in the UK and further afield suggests that the impact would not just be on people’s health and quality of life but also on the long term economic and environmental future of the region, should the proposals get the go ahead.”
Green Valleys Alliance has launched its own website, which it will use to share its research findings and communicate its strategies to local residents and businesses. The group seeks to put its point across to the political decision makers who are likely to have an influence on whether the proposals for a new open cast mine become a reality.
Mine developer Miller Argent intends to submit the planning application for a mine at Nant Llesg to Caerphilly Council this summer. The local authority will then undertake a period of public consultation.
The cumulative impact with Miller Argent’s existing mine at Ffos-y-Fran, together with the size and scale of the Nant Llesg proposal, means that should the mine be given the go ahead by Caerphilly Council, it will probably fall on the Welsh Government to adjudicate on the decision.
“We anticipate that this will be a long term campaign and businesses, as well as the community, need to recognise the real impact this mine will have on a whole generation,” Mr Field added.
“In the previous 20 years, many hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayers money has been spent to reverse the effects of coal mining and attract cleaner industries to the Valleys, and peoples’ health and quality of life has improved as a result. It is lunacy to reverse this strategy and undo all the good work that has been done.”