Good Law Project and Coal Action Network are taking legal action to force the immediate closure of an illegal mine in South Wales because the local council and Welsh Ministers have failed to do so.
Many local residents have opposed Ffos-y-Fran open cast mine since it opened in 2007, arguing it is noisy and a health hazard.
Planning permission for the mine ended last September, but the mine operator, Merthyr (South Wales) Ltd, has continued to extract coal.
Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council has issued an enforcement notice informing the company it is in breach of planning regulations, but Merthyr (South Wales) Ltd is appealing.
‘It is hard to believe that in the UK today, a company can continue to mine coal illegally — because their planning permission has expired — in broad daylight, for over eleven months.
‘Yet this is what is happening now at Ffos-y-Fran, at a huge cost not only to local residents and the local environment but to the whole country because of the high level of greenhouse gas emissions caused in this time of global heating.
‘Good Law Project is proud to be working with Coal Action Network, who, thanks to our backing, will now be able to take the local council and Welsh ministers to court to finally put an end to this illegal mining.’
Good Law Project Legal Manager
Good Law Project is supporting the campaigning group Coal Action Network who are issuing a judicial review against both the council and Welsh Ministers for failing to impose a ‘stop notice’ on the mining activity.
Merthyr (South Wales) Ltd was given planning permission originally on the understanding that it would restore the site once mining ended. The company has only paid £15m into the fund according to the local council, yet estimates of the clean-up bill are between £75m and £125m.
‘Residents suffering 15 years of noise and air pollution have been betrayed by their local Council, whilst the Welsh Government stubbornly refused to step in and put its climate policies into practice, instead enriching itself by transporting the illegal coal along its railways.
‘We clearly see this as a case for the Welsh Government introducing a clear and complete ban on any coal mining on Welsh soil, bringing it in line with Scotland’s de facto coal mine ban in October 2022.
‘The Welsh Government approved the coal mine, after the local council rejected it, so it is clear to us that the Welsh Government shares the duty to deliver the original restoration of the land promised to the people of Merthyr Tydfil. Anything less is adding insult to injury after further permitting over 11 months of illegal coal mining.’
Campaigner at Coal Action Network
A Good Law Project investigation has found that since 2017, according to company accounts, the mining company has paid out £41.5m to its parent company in dividends.
This parent company, Gwent Holdings Ltd, is controlled by the same family that runs Merthyr (South Wales), and in March reported cash holdings of £81.7m.
In the last three years, the mine operator has also paid out £8.39m in ‘royalties’ to a firm controlled by its director, David Lewis.
Meanwhile, the company argues that the ‘insufficient funds’ set aside for the restoration of the site means that they should continue mining at Ffos-y-Fran.