...By Judah Olanisebee for TDPel Media.
Residents Celebrate Closure of UK’s Largest Open Coal Mine After 16 Years
Residents of Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales, are celebrating the refusal of a proposed nine-month extension to keep Ffos-y-Fran, the UK’s largest opencast coal mine, open until March 2024.
The decision was made by Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council, citing Welsh Government policies on climate change.
Mining at the site, which had been granted permission in 2006, has been blamed for noise, dust and pollution, but had also provided jobs and steel to the region.
Alyson Austin, who has lived near the mine for 20 years, and has long campaigned against it, welcomed the news, saying that she was “absolutely thrilled” and that “it’s a huge weight that has been lifted.”
Residents had feared another fight against the mine’s extension, should the proposal have been accepted.
However, with the mine set to close after 16 years, many have celebrated with bottles of prosecco and champagne.
Despite the victory, concerns remain over the restoration of the site, with insufficient funds having been set aside by Merthyr (South Wales) Ltd. for the project.
Council officers have estimated that restoration could cost between £75m and £125m, while only around £15m is in an Escrow account.
Activists have also accused the mining company of continuing to mine coal after the permission to do so had run out last September.
The company has yet to indicate its plans for the site’s restoration, and residents have called for an enforcement order to prevent further mining.
Campaigners have hailed the decision as a “huge win for climate, nature, and the local community.”
They hope that it will set a strong precedent against coal mining in Wales, which is seen as a dirty and unsustainable industry.
Instead, they have called for the creation of green jobs to help revive the region’s economy.