The NO OPENCAST Group are asking for concerned people to contact Torfaen Council (TCBC) to urge them not to agree to the new proposed Section 106 agreement that Glamorgan Power has proposed, thus enabling the mine to be given permission.
The council rejected Glamorgan Power’s application to remove 68 hectares in Varteg to extract 325,000 tonnes of coal in 2011. The grounds for the rejection were that the local population lived to close to the site (within 50m) and Ysgol Bryn Onnen (a local nursery to Primary age Welsh School with 200+ pupils) is within 120m of the boundary and under MTAN 2 (preventing opencasting within 500m of homes and schools) this was not acceptable on grounds of noise, dust and light pollution. The company has since appealed and a Public Inquiry began in January 2012 that lasted 7 weeks.
Please write to: Ref: 04/P/09210 13/P/00461.
Area Team Leader (East)
Ty Blaen Torfaen, Or email email@example.com
Please note that responses have to in to Torfaen Council by 22nd November 2013.
Issues to include:
The Chief Planning Officer for TCBC has acknowledge at a Public Meeting that should they need to take on any restoration, their costs may be considerably higher than the £2,870,775 the bond secures.
The council say that they are not able to challenge the overruling of their decision because of financial constraints – surely this isn’t a good reason to allow an area to be destroyed?
Public confidence in TCBC and their ability to ensure restoration, no matter what, has been eroded. TCBC could end up in the same situation as some Scottish councils who will have to pay to restore sites after Scottish Coal failed earlier this year.
Coal companies have been struggling to make a profit from British mining in part due to the low price of imported coal from America due to Shale gas exploration. This means companies are more likely to fail and not restore sites. TCBC does not seem to be doing enough to prevent this.
There is still no plan put forward as to how the Welsh Medium Nursery/Primary School can thrive with an Opencast within 100metres and directly in the prevailing winds, a great concern for the parents and wider community.
The coal will be taken off site by road, HGVs would travel through the small village of Blaenafon, potentially having to mount the pavement to pass other large vehicles at the roads narrowest point outside the new Visitors Centre. There have been numerous problems with speeding and recklessly driven coal HGVs at other sites, incidents have included a fatality and serious injury in Fairlie, North Ayrshire in February 2013. (For info see here)
The NO OPENCAST VARTEG group continue to press the Welsh Assembly to make their MTAN2 (to prevent opencasting within 500m of residential property and schools) guidance mandatory in Welsh Planning Law. But are being delayed from taking this forward via the Petitions Committee who have called the Minister responsible for the Varteg Hill decision to give evidence and he cannot meet us until he has made the decision. Varteg Hill will be the first test of MTAN2 in Wales and should the proposal be allowed to go ahead, it will be a resounding failure.
How can the 500metre buffer zone be taken seriously if the proposed opencast at Varteg Hill is passed? We still await the report generated by the Public Inquiry in January 2012, which is being withheld until the Minister has given a decision “in the interest of transparency”.
It is important that the council’s decision to disallow the mine is continued. Otherwise it would lead to a mine in this area and could pave the way for other applications to be accepted.