Coal tip safety but not at the expense of the planet

Published: 12 Mar 2024

Energy Recovery Investments (ERI) Reclamation Ltd is proposing to remove 500,000 tonnes of coal over five years from two coal tips in Bedwas and use sales from the coal to restore the site.


The 'Mile Climb', Sirhowy Valley Country Park - a section of the forestry road proposed for the haul route
The 'Mile Climb', Sirhowy Valley Country Park - a section of the forestry road proposed for the haul route

The ‘Bedwas Tips Reclamation Scheme’, as it is called, could be the next, and possibly biggest, test to date of the Welsh Government’s coal policy “to avoid the continued extraction and consumption of fossil fuels” and “to bring a managed end to the extraction and use of coal.”

Wales has over 2500 coal tips and over 350 of them must be inspected regularly and carefully managed to ensure they do not pose a risk to residents. The two council-owned tips at Mynydd Y Grug in Bedwas, Caerphilly are category D, the highest risk, which means they need two inspections a year.

The council have undertaken significant work recently to improve the drainage, but managing these tips is a costly and ongoing exercise, and cash-strapped councils are often footing the bill.

According to ERI Information Paper, the main risks associated with these tips are understood to be 'risk of tip fire and contamination of local watercourses (including Rhymney River) with land stability being of a lesser concern'.

ERI Reclamation Ltd’s plan to remove the coal and haul it through Sirhowy Valley Country Park and build a new section of purpose-built road, has been met with outrage from residents. Their lives will be adversely impacted by years of noise and air pollution from the works and all the lorries.

Graig Goch local nature reserve
Graig Goch local nature reserve is an ancient oak and beech woodland

Residents are equally concerned about the impacts on wildlife and on a popular local amenity enjoyed by residents, other communities across Caerphilly and even wider.

Graig Goch Local Nature Reserve within Sirhowy Valley Country park is an ancient oak and beech woodland with protected trees, and Mynydd Y Grug itself is a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC) with a breeding population of Great crested newts, a protected species.

Over 3000 people have already signed a petition against the proposal.

The company have indicated that they intend to sell the coal to the cement industry. As coal fuels cement furnaces, and ash from burned coal is used as an additive, this coal will end up being burned. If 100,000 tonnes a year of this coal is burned each year for five years, as ERI has indicated, that could amount to a massive 1.25M tonnes of CO2!

Ensuring our tips are safe is paramount. Selling the coal and burning it to do so is not the way to do it.

This is against Welsh Government’s coal policy and would lead to climate-wrecking emissions.

ERI Reclamation are expected to apply for planning permission for this proposal to Caerphilly County Borough Council later this month.

Sunday 18th Feb different users of the park gathered for a rally
Rally by different users of Sirhowy Valley Country Park on Sunday 18th February 2024


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