Wales’ last opencast coal mine proposal turned down in historic decision
Published: 14 Sep 2023
Around 50 local people and campaigners, who had gathered on the steps of the Carmarthenshire County Hall ahead of today’s planning meeting to oppose the mine, celebrated the decision.
Earlier this year councillors in Merthyr voted unanimously to stop mining at Ffos y Fran, Wales’ other open cast coal mine, with mining now due to end there this November. The decision to stop further coal extraction at Glan Lash is another clear signal that the era of opencast mining in Wales is coming to an end.
Carmarthenshire councillors followed the advice of council officials to refuse permission for an extension to the mine on environmental grounds to protect the delicate ecology and precious wildlife of the surrounding area, especially the Caeau Mynydd Mawr Special Area of Conservation. Campaigners were also concerned about the potential emissions of the proposal.
While the mine’s operator claimed that the coal will not be burnt, any further extraction of coal would release harmful methane into the atmosphere – one of the main greenhouse gases that contributes to the climate crisis. With no planning or legal mechanisms to prevent changes in end use for the coal, potentially it could have been burnt for energy or other uses, which would have further dangerous climate impacts.
Carmarthenshire County Council had received over 800 objections from people living in the area.
If it had been approved, up to 95,000 tonnes more coal could have been extracted from the mine.
Haf Elgar, Director of Friends of the Earth Cymru, said:
“Today Carmarthenshire councillors made the historic decision to put nature and climate first - and we owe them a huge debt of gratitude.
“By saying no to more coal at Glan Lash, the last opencast mine in Wales, we can finally see an end to open cast mining in Wales – for good.
“Coal is a part of our heritage, not our future. We must focus instead on cleaner` greener energy and creating sustainable green jobs in Carmarthenshire and across Wales.”
Magnus Gallie, a planning specialist at Friends of the Earth, said:
“We thank Carmarthenshire councillors for following the advice and turning down this application to mine more coal at Glan Lash in Carmarthenshire.
“We are in a nature as well as a climate emergency. As the ecologist’s report makes clear, digging up this coal would have been a serious threat to wildlife and biodiversity in Carmarthenshire.
“Coal extraction is damaging, even if it’s not being burned, because it releases harmful methane and adds to global coal supplies - lowering prices and attracting more demand.
“This proposal went against Welsh Government policy, which prohibits the licensing and permitting of new coal mines, except in ‘wholly exceptional circumstances.’ As alternatives to coal-use in water filtration are readily available, the application failed to meet these strict policy requirements.
“Councillors made the right decision today, sending out a strong message that Wales is a globally responsible nation.”