A large opencast coal mine in Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales, mining primarily thermal coal. The mining company won planning permission in February 2005, after appealing its rejection. Opencast coal mining began in 2007, in the face of stiff local protest. On 06th September 2022, planning permission for the opencast coal mining came to an end, 15 years and 3 months after it started. See our other posts about Ffos-y-fran, key company and mine facts and figures, and our campaign timeline from September 2022.
Based on the most recently available official statistics from The Coal Authority, since planning permission ended, by the end of May 2023, nearly 300,000 tonnes of coal would have been mined without any attempt to stop it, at the climate cost of almost a MILLION tonnes of CO2. At a rate of over 1,000 tonnes each day, every day this goes on for, matters. Every day this illegal coal operation continues, produces the CO2 equivalent of burning 1.5 MILLION litres of petrol.
Planning permission for the Ffos-y-fran coal mine ended on 06 September 2022. Not only does that mean the mining company, Merthyr (South Wales) Ltd, is in breach of planning control, it also means that it has no licence, as the Coal Authority require, as a condition of that licence, that the company has active planning permission to mine the coal – something that Merthyr (South Wales) Ltd hasn’t had for months.
The local council (Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council) refused calls by local residents to take enforcement action for 7 months because it claimed Merthyr (South Wales) Ltd was not mining coal at Ffos-y-fran, but was forced by Coal Action Network to eventually admit that actually, yes, coal mining had been happening.
Then the council refused to enforce the stop of illegal coal mining until after the application to extend Ffos-y-fran had been decided by Councillors on 26th April 2023, which is not unusual practice within planning… but given the irreversible, daily harm occurring at Ffos-y-fran, enforcement action should have been taken.
A month after the unanimous rejection of the Ffos-y-fran extension application by Councillors, no enforcement action has been taken. The most recent reason given by the council is that they are ‘investigating’ and are trying to ‘hold meetings’ with Merthyr (South Wales) Ltd… all the while, the company nears the 9 month extension it originally applied for in illegal coal mining.
The Welsh Government has said that it wouldn’t intervene in Ffos-y-fran until the council decides whether it’ll take enforcement action or not. But the problem with this approach is that the council has already stalled, and failed to take expedient enforcement action to stop the ongoing coal mining. This inaction has so far resulted in 270,000 tonnes of coal, adding 840,000 tonnes of CO2 to our climate crisis - all without planning permission and in direct contravention of national policy.
There are multiple drone videos of ongoing coal mining, such as the one below filmed on 19th May 2023. There are also many photos of laden coal trucks leaving the Ffos-y-fran site and unloading at the nearby coal depot with coal trains arriving and leaving, and lorries of customers coming and going. This is happening at a rate and scale that is not compatible with selling off old coal stocks – particularly since coal mining was supposed to end over 8 months ago. We also have emails from the Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council confirming that ongoing coal mining is occurring at Ffos-y-fran. One email seems to suggest that the mining company may even have lied to the Council by claiming it wasn’t coal mining when the Council asked.
Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council should issue a Temporary Stop Notice – an emergency enforcement option to be used in cases just like this. It almost instantly stops the defined activity for a period of up to 28 days. This gives the council the time it may need to assess and enforce long-term planning control, without further harm being done in the meantime. On the week of the 08th May 2023, the council received over 7,000 emails from our supporters demand a Temporary Stop Notice is issued to finally end illegal coal mining at Ffos-y-fan.
The Welsh Government needs to step in without further delay to protect its climate policies, given Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council’s failure to take the expedient enforcement action described above,. If the Welsh Government exercises its power under S182 of the TCPA 1990, it will be implementing the local democratic decision made by elected councillors on 26th April, not overriding it. And immediate action is needed by the Welsh Government due to the contravention of its own policies and irreversible harm being caused on a daily basis. On the week of the 08th May 2023, the Welsh Government Ministers received over 3,000 emails from our supporters demanding that they use their powers to intervene and finally end illegal coal mining at Ffos-y-fan.
We are an environmental organisation dedicated to ending coal mining and use in the UK for the sake of our collective climate and ecosystems. So you’d think we’d celebrate the claim by Merthyr (South Wales) Ltd that it will finally stop mining coal today at Ffos-y-fran in Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales. But we’re not. Because the abject failure of Merthyr County Borough Council to stop…
People hailing from Cumbria to London, and everywhere in between, descended on the Mines and Money Conference in London across two days (28th-29th Nov 2023). We demanded that investors stop pouring cash into the mining sector, and instead invest in our collective future. Together with Fossil Free London and other groups, we greeted investors with…
The insurers that have ruled out underwriting the mine are AEGIS Managing Agency, Argenta Syndicate Management, Hannover Re and Talanx. These are the first financial institutions to rule out any involvement with the project, and the win represents a new phase in the campaign to stop the project from going ahead.
Today’s global actions focused specifically on the state-owned China Export & Credit Insurance Corporation (Sinosure), the Export-Import Bank of China (China Exim), and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC). Sinosure is said to be in advanced talks with the Ugandan government about providing credit for the project.
On 18th October dozens of protesters staged a sit-in occupation of the plush City of London offices of ten Lloyd’s of London insurers demanding they rule out insuring the proposed West Cumbria coal mine and East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP).
Global mining companies are coming to London soon attempting to find investors in their ruinous projects at the Mines and Money Conference (28th to 30th November). Join our protests against it!
01 September 2022: Merthyr (South Wales) Ltd applies for a S.73 time extension to mine coal from Ffos-y-fran, and to accordingly delay and vary restoration works.
06 September 2022: Planning permission ends for coal mining at the Ffos-y-fran site, after 15 years and 3 months of operations.
12 September 2022: first reports to MTCBC have been made by local residents of coaling beyond the end of planning permission.
Over 30 Welsh NGOs and businesses have signed a letter to Welsh Minister Julie James and Deputy Minister Lee Waters, demanding they draw a line in the sand and announce ban on any further coal mines on Welsh soil. The letter was delivered on 11th October 2023.
On 15th September 2023, The Guardian reported that Tata Steel accepted Government funding to avoid closing its steelworks in Port Talbot, South Wales, by decarbonising it instead – but at a loss of up to 3,000 jobs. The UK Government is providing £500 million, and Tata Steel is expected to provide another £725 million…