The main element of the appeal at Margham was around the decision to uphold MTAN 2. This new guidance note sets out detailed advice on the mechanisms for delivering the policy for coal extraction, through surface and underground working, by mineral planning authorities and the coal mining industry. MTAN2 specifies that there should be 500 metres between an open cast and a settlement. Extending the mine west by a further 51 hectares as the plans suggested, meant that Margam would have been too close to Cefn Cribwr, which is about 2-300 metres away. During the appeal hearing the barrister for the appellant argued with the judge on the MTAN point – but happily the judge was having none of it! The judge upheld every decision given in the Inspector’s report and the Welsh Assembley Government’s decision. Further background on the fight for the ancient woodland can be seen on our previous blogs, and a written version of this recent decision is awaited.
The appellants must now pay costs of £23,000 – considered by local residents to be a small price for the destruction the mine has been responsible for already. We are supporting the excellent local campaign group ‘Protecting and Conserving Together’ (PACT), who have worked extremely hard on this case, and we are all very happy to see this result.
We can only wait and hope that this centuries-old ancient woodland will be safe in the long term, however – there is always the chance that this recent High Court decision could be further challenged by Celtic Energy in the Court of Appeal…
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