It is days like this that really give us a boost when campaigning to protect ancient woodland. On Monday we found out that the appeal to extend the Margam open cast coal mine was dismissed by the Welsh Government and to be honest a little unexpected. Although we have been expecting this decision for some time there has been a strong track record of open cast planning permissions being refused locally and then being let through by the Government at the appeal stage. So you can imagine how pleased we all are!
Many of you will already be aware of the long fight that we have had to try and save Coed Hafodheulog (which evokes a wonderful mental image as heulog means sunny in Welsh). Originally the open cast proposals took out the entire of the woodland but after a lot of work Celtic Energy altered their plans to avoid the footprint of the woodland. Although this was good news we then found the next obstacle was Celtic Energy not acknowledging the indirect impacts of the coal-pit on the woodland. One of the reasons ancient woodland is valuable is because they provide wildlife with stability – alter this and many species are not able to adapt and find it difficult to survive. You can find out more about these types of impacts in our Neighbours from Hell report.
As well as the horrific potential for the open cast to slowly kill the wood, there is the small issue of climate change to think about. The Trust believes that climate change is the biggest threat to our natural world and will have huge implications for the way we live our lives. We therefore wish to see forms of renewable energy being used to help us move to a low-carbon society rather than releasing ancient stores of carbon through burning fossil fuels. And lets face it – whilst coal is still being taken out of the ground it is going to be used.
This end result is a bit of a boost for the team – particularly as we have recently been notified of another open cast application that will result in a serious loss and damage to ancient woodland. This application at the Pentremawr Colliery is still at an early stage and is currently being considered by Carmarthenshire County Council. The team hopes that the Margam outcome is indicative of what is to come…