Welsh coal mine continues operations without planning permission

The Ffos-y-Fran coal mine in South Wales has continued operations despite its application for a licence extension being revoked in September last year.

According to the Guardian, records suggest that nearly 200,000 tonnes of coal will have been dug from the Ffos-y-Fran coal mine, Britain’s biggest opencast mine, between September 2022, when its licence expired, and May 2023. 

A planning application submitted in September 2022 to extend the life of the mine until 31 March 2024 was refused by Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council (Merthyr Tydfil CBC).

In the refusal document, the council wrote that the proposal “fails to clearly demonstrate that the extraction of coal is required to support industrial non-energy generating uses”. 

The document also notes that the extraction of coal was not deemed to be required “in the context of decarbonisation and climate change emission reduction” and that there were no measures to ensure the “safe winding-down of mining operations or site remediation”. 

It also notes that the proposal did not prove how it would contribute to “Welsh prosperity and a globally responsible Wales”. 

According to the council, the agent who submitted the application has six months to appeal the decision. 

Natural Resources Wales also raised concerns about the proposal during the consultation phase, in particular in relation to the site’s impact on European Protected Species. It found that “inadequate information” had been provided, and there should have been an updated biodiversity data search and a review to confirm whether the conditions of the Great Crested Newt licence had been met.

Merthyr Tydfil CBC Environmental Health raised no objections to the proposed conditions for the operation of the site. 

According to the Guardian, council officers are conducting a “thorough investigation” to determine “what enforcement action is the most appropriate”. 

ENDS has contacted Merthyr Tydfil CBC for a comment.