This week the Woods under Threat team have been working on an open cast coal proposal – ‘exciting’ I hear you say, with a touch of sarcasm! And you would be right, parts of the application are immensely complex, the ‘geotechnical assessment’ is enough to discourage anyone from looking in more detail at the application. However at the same time the case is bizarrely intriguing and presents a key threat to ancient woodland.
The area put forward for the open cast is the Pentremawr colliery between Pont-henri and Pontyberem in Carmarthenshire, Wales. Historically coal mining was hugely important part of these communities and was responsible for the development of the villages. The seams of coal in the Gwendraeth Valley have been worked since the 1860s right up to mid 20th century, however the industry has now declined and is no longer so key to the area.
Recently an application was made to Carmarthenshire County Council from Draeth Developments Ltd to open cast the site. As you can imagine this has been met with horror by the local people, who have formed an action group to fight the proposals. There are too many examples across Wales of local communities being blighted by open cast coal for people not to be uneasy of any new open cast (Margam, Merthyr Tydfill to name a couple).
A few weeks ago a public meeting was held with a representative from Draeth Developments. In places the meeting was quite heated – it was fantastic to hear people sticking up for their local woodland and asking about the merits of an open cast coal mine when we are faced with such a threat from climate change. What was even more heart warming was people rightly questioning the merits of ‘replacing ancient woodland’ and asking how this is possible!
In response to the application we have lodged an objection with the County Council as we are hugely concerned over the impacts of the open cast mine on ancient woodland. Not only will there be a significant loss of ancient woodland but the ancient woodland that is not being removed by the proposals will end up right next door to a huge black pit. Definitely one of the ultimate ‘Neighbours from hell’.