Time has swiftly rolled on since my last blog and the Public Inquiry into the Margam open cast coal mine extension is already nearly over. Over the last 3-4 weeks Celtic Energy (Margam’s owners) have been setting out their evidence on why the extension should be allowed. On Tuesday 17th February I attended the Public Inquiry to give evidence against the proposal, focusing on the impacts of the open cast on Coed Hafod Heulog, a wonderfully tranquil ancient woodland in south Wales.
What was incredibly inspiring about this rather nerve racking experience, was the large number of local people that turned up to speak out against the extension of the mine. There was an interesting variety of views, including those from an expert in Economics from Cardiff University; the local campaign group, PACT; the home owners whose unfriendly neighbour is the open cast pit; and many more. The strength of feeling against the operation and these plans to extend was immense.
Every person had a compelling case into why the open cast should not be granted further permission and gave the Inquiry an insight into what it is like to live next door to a giant pit. Sadly, the trees at Coed Hafod Heulog are unable to speak out against Celtic Energy’s proposals. Luckily though, the Woodland Trust and local people are able to speak out on the wood’s behalf. I desperately hope that the Inspector’s decision recognises the integrity of all of our evidence, sees the importance of ancient woodland and agrees with all of us: that the pros of this open cast extension could never outweigh the cons.