Local residents and campaigners against the proposals for an opencast mine at Nant Llesg at the top of the picturesque Rhymney Valley have today (27 January 2015) staged a protest at Caerphilly County Borough Council’s offices before a decision on the planning application for the mine is due to be heard.
As part of the protest, local residents staged a mock ‘Trial of the Valley’ where performers shared their concerns about the impact an opencast mine would have on the local community now, during its 17-year lifetime and beyond. Representatives from Friends of the Earth, the Independent Party and the Green Party also attended to show their support, along with members of the Green Valleys Alliance and the United Valleys Action Group.
The plans for the mine have been put forward by Scottish developer, Miller Argent and would see 3,000 acres of land set aside for the surface mining of six to nine million tonnes of coal over a period of 17 years. Miller Argent also operates the Ffos-y-Fran opencast mine in Merthyr.
While Miller Argent is promising job creation, if the proposals are given the go-ahead then existing jobs are under threat, with many local businesses stating that the impact of the mine would be too great for them to remain in the area. A report conducted by the Welsh Economy Research Unit at Cardiff University found that the operation could create a £28.7 million a year hole in the local economy, leading to significant job losses and undermining efforts to attract inward investment.
Green Valleys Alliance spokesperson, Mitchell Field, who employs 140 people at Rhymney-based cosmetics company, Richards & Appleby Ltd, said: “We really hope that Caerphilly Council listens to the concerns of local residents and local businesses and sees sense when it reviews the proposals as this is going to have nothing but a negative impact on the area.
“We have reviewed cases at similar opencast operations across the UK and all of the evidence signifies that such operations have a profoundly negative effect in terms of the quality of life for people living nearby, as well as environmentally and on the future economic prospects for the area.”
The decision of Caerphilly County Borough Council’s planning committee on the application to create an opencast mine at Nant Llesg is due in February.