Plans to extend opencast mining at Wales’ last site rejected

Councillors have voted to end opencast mining at the “last” site of its kind in Wales in what campaigners have hailed as the “right decision”.

Glan Lash mine (taken nine years ago) © Copyright Nigel Davies and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Carmarthenshire councillors voted down an application made by Bryn Bach Coal Ltd for an extension on the Glan Lash mine near Ammanford on environmental grounds, as it is surrounded by the Caeau Mynydd Mawr special area of conservation. 

Concerns were also raised about the potential climate impacts of the mine. If the extension had been approved, Friends of the Earth claim that up to an additional 95,000 tonnes of coal could have been extracted from the mine. 

Earlier this year, councillors in Merthyr voted unanimously to stop mining at Ffos y Fran, the country’s other open cast coal mine, with the council having taken enforcement action after the site continued to operate outside of its licence.  

Mining is now due to end there this November, which Friends of the Earth has described as a “clear signal that the era of opencast mining in Wales is coming to an end”. 

READ MORE: UK’s largest open cast mine confirms November closure date

Haf Elgar, director of Friends of the Earth Cymru, described the Carmarthenshire council decision as “historic”, adding that “we owe them a huge debt of gratitude”. 

He continued: “By saying no to more coal at Glan Lash, the last opencast mine in Wales, we can finally see an end to open cast mining in Wales – for good. 

“Coal is a part of our heritage, not our future. We must focus instead on cleaner, greener energy and creating sustainable green jobs in Carmarthenshire and across Wales.” 

Magnus Gallie, a planning specialist at Friends of the Earth, said:  “We thank Carmarthenshire councillors for following the advice and turning down this application to mine more coal at Glan Lash in Carmarthenshire. 

“We are in a nature as well as a climate emergency. As the ecologist’s report makes clear, digging up this coal would have been a serious threat to wildlife and biodiversity in Carmarthenshire.”  

He added that the planning proposal for the coal mine went against Welsh government policy, which “prohibits the licensing and permitting of new coal mines, except in ‘wholly exceptional circumstances’”.

He said: “Councillors made the right decision today, sending out a strong message that Wales is a globally responsible nation.” 

Bryn Bach Coal Ltd. could not be reached for a comment.