Over 30 organisations call on Welsh Government to ban coal mining in Wales
Over 30 Welsh organisations and businesses have signed an open letter to the Welsh Government calling for a complete ban on coal mining on Welsh soil.
The letter to be delivered today (October 23), has been sent to Minister for Climate Change, Julie James and Deputy Minister Lee Waters, demanding they draw a line in the sand and announce ban on any further coal mines in Wales.
The Welsh Government already has policies against new and extended coal mines but campaigners say these are caveated and confusing.
The renewed call for a coal mining ban comes less than a month after existing policies would have failed to stop a recent bid to reopen the shuttered Glan Lash opencast coal mine in Carmarthenshire.
The coal mining company, Bryn Bach Coal Ltd, applied to double the size of the coal mine over six years.
Carmarthenshire County Council’s Planning Officer advised Councillors in the Officer’s Report, and at the Planning Hearing that, “Overall, it is considered that the proposals would largely meet the criteria of the coal policy”.
The application was rejected on the grounds of local ecological impacts but campaigners say it has exposed the weakness of existing policies, with the Planning Officer adding that it is “difficult to know for certain how to interpret the coal policy”.
The open letter coincides with the first anniversary of Scotland’s announcement of its own de facto ban on coal mining.
Daniel Therkelsen, campaigner at Coal Action Network said: “The Welsh Government faces a choice—align itself with the backtracking and flip-flopping of the UK Government, or regain its international leadership position alongside Scotland, as a progressive country of confidence and stability for green industry to thrive.
Welsh Minister for Climate Change, Julie James, wrote a letter to the UK Government in October 2021, lamenting the current policy situation, which “results in both the developer and the Coal Authority committing significant resources respectively to preparing and determining applications”.
Non-profit organizations and businesses that signed the open letter are calling for a clear coal ban that clears up the confusion Carmarthenshire Council identified and the caveats that creates uncertainty and potentially wasted resources for coal mining companies.
Merthyr (South Wales) Ltd also applied for an extension to mine in September last year but it was rejected by the Council due to the Welsh Government’s coal policies.
Daniel Therkelsen, Campaigner, Coal Action Network said: “The Welsh Government has said their position is clear, that they want to bring a managed end to the extraction and use of coal.
“Their jigsaw of policies on coal is as clear as the coal dust that continues to plague communities living around mines in south Wales. Draw a line in the sand – ban new coal mines and extensions. Nothing about a ban would prevent access by the Coal Authority to address safety issues.”
Sam Ward, Head of Climate Cymru said: “We need to see a Wales free from fossil fuels, and that is why we support banning coal mining on Welsh soil. Land previously used for mining must be restored, and communities must be part of the discussion as to how this is carried out.
“We need clarity from the Welsh Government that coal will be kept in the ground, and adopt a de facto ban as in Scotland so that there is no ambiguity.
‘We must ensure that we focus on developing new technologies for the future, generated from homegrown renewables, creating long-term and secure jobs for the people of Wales.”
A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “Our position is clear – we want to bring a managed end to the extraction and use of coal. We are in a climate and nature emergency and the response must be swift and serious, so we can pass on a Wales we are proud of to future generations.”
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.