Closure date confirmed for Ffos-y-Fran coalmine
The company which runs Ffos-y-Fran in Merthyr Tydfil, the UK’s biggest opencast coalmine, has announced it will close on 30 November this year.
Planning permission for mining at the site ran out in September last year but residents and environmental campaigners claim mining continued despite that.
An application to extend permission for mining at the site was rejected by the local authorities planning committee in April and the council issued an enforcement notice on the company in June ordering them to stop coaling there.
Last month the Coal Authority announced it was taking action against Merthyr (South Wales) Ltd, which runs the mine, after discovering coal mining was happening outside of the licence boundary at the site
The mines operator has submitted a notification to the Welsh government today confirming the closure date and confirmed all site employees, of which there are about 180, will be made redundant.
The company said it was currently “dealing with the human fall-out from this sad announcement” and would be making no further comment.
Coal extraction at the mine began in 2007 on a 15-year licence.
Reacting to the announcement, Llyr Gruffydd MS, Chair of the Climate Change, Environment and Infrastructure Committee in the Senedd, said: “This announcement will bring clarity to an issue that has been of significant concern for the local community and environmental campaigners.
“It is important that we now look to the future. Ffos-y-Fran is a significant employer in the area, and we have asked the Welsh Government what plans are in place to support the workers and the local economy after the closure of the mine.
“We have also heard concerns about a significant shortfall in the funds put aside by the company to restore the land. The local community, which has lived with this mine for so many years, must get what it was promised.
“The Committee has written to the Minister on these issues, and we await a response. We will continue to press the Welsh Government to provide answers on support for the redundant workers as well as the fund for restoring land as we approach the closure date in November.”
Wales Green Party leader Anthony Slaughter said the closure of the Ffos-y-Fran coal mine should mark the next chapter in Wales’ rich industrial heritage and its journey to becoming a renewables powerhouse.
Mr Slaughter said: “Fuelling the nation’s energy needs is part of who we are in Wales. Coal has been central to that, but our future now must be as a renewables powerhouse.
“And it is vital that everybody is included as we make this transition. That means we need investment in renewables alongside financial and training support for those workers who will now lose their jobs as a result of the closure of this mine.
“The Welsh government refused to step in to stop this coal mine operating 11 months after its planning permission ran out. That is one more symptom of Labour’s failure to deliver a clean green future for everyone.
“Our natural resources provided the fuel for the Industrial revolution. Now our natural resources – wind, sun and water – can lead a green industrial revolution.
“Local people have led the campaign to end coal mining and restore our natural environment. Now they need the Welsh government to support them, show political leadership and deliver a shared vision of Wales as a renewables powerhouse.
“In the first instance, that means government holding the company to its promise to restore the environment. Then, we need investments in green jobs of the future that respect Welsh people’s historic contribution to meeting the energy needs of the whole UK.”
Daniel Therkelsen, from the Coal Action Network, which last week filed a judicial review challenge over the continuing coal mining at Ffos-y-fran, with the help of Good Law Project, described the news of the closure as a “surprise”.
“It is a betrayal of everyone living in Merthyr Tydfil that, after what would be over a year of illegal coal mining, Merthyr (South Wales) Ltd appears to suggest it will fire its workers and leave behind yet another unrestored coal mine to blight South Wales after siphoning off millions in revenue to side-companies,” he added.
“The huge amount of work to restore the coal mine would keep workers employed for years to come to deliver on the promise made to local residents 15 years ago for a public amenity.
“But this is the true face of mining in Wales, a story that keeps repeating.
“Never again – the upcoming application to extend the Glan Lash opencast coal mine must be rejected in Carmarthenshire, and the extension of Aberpergwm deep coal mine must be stopped.
“Enough is enough – the Welsh Government is responsible for approving Ffos-y-fran in the first place, profited from running illegal coal on its railways for this past year, and now must regain the trust of affected communities by introducing a clear, universal ban on coal mining on Welsh soil, in-line with Scotland.”
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