The developer behind a proposed opencast mine at the top of the Rhymney Valley has confirmed it is pressing ahead with an appeal to overturn the scheme’s planning rejection.
In August 2015 Caerphilly County Borough Council’s Planning Committee rejected an application for the Nant Llesg mine by developer Miller Argent in the face of strong local opposition.
The planned mine would have seen six million tonnes of coal mined over at least 14 years on a 478 hectare site, offering up to 239 jobs.
But a campaign led by residents, environmentalists and climate change activists urged councillors to go against the local authority’s planning officers and reject the application on the grounds of visual impact.
Miller Argent lodged an appeal with the Welsh Government’s Planning Inspectorate to build the mine between Fochriw and Rhymney – with the appeal case still pending.
A spokesman for Miller Argent said: “The appeal is progressing through the system and we are in the process of updating some of our surveys.
“Everything has to be current and some surveys have time limits on them.
“Nant Llesg is going to be a strategic natural resource in Wales, which is part and parcel in supporting thousands of jobs.
“Welsh coal is a fabulous natural resource that’s used in essential industrial services and products.”
Miller Argent already operates a neighbouring opencast mine at Ffos-y-Fran – which was last month the scene of protests.
Ten protesters were arrested and charged with aggravated trespass after chaining themselves to machinery at the opencast mine.
Miller Argent has admitted that coal from Ffros-y-Fan is no longer being supplied to Aberthaw power station and this has led campaigners to question the need for Nant Llesg.
Terry Evans, Chair United Valleys Action Group, said: “If Aberthaw is not burning coal from the existing mine at Ffos-y-fran, then how can Miller Argent keep going with its application to mine at Nant Llesg?
“We demand that Miller Argent withdraw its appeal of the council’s decision against mining at Nant Llesg.
“This would give those of us who live in Rhymney and surrounding areas peace of mind, knowing that there won’t be an increase of the highly destructive opencast coal mining in the area.”