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Nant Llesg campaigners’ anger as planning officers say yes to opencast mine but no to wind turbine

Published in News at 09:00, Thursday June 18th, 2015.

By Gareth Hill

NO COAL: Campaigners protesting against Nant Llesg opencast mine earlier this year

NO COAL: Campaigners protesting against Nant Llesg opencast mine earlier this year

Environmentalists have hit out at Caerphilly planning officers who recommended permission be refused for a single wind turbine but approved for an opencast coal mine.

A report submitted to Caerphilly County Borough Council’s Planning Committee on June 10 recommended refusing planning permission for a 78m wind turbine near Deri because of its visual impact.

Planning officers said the turbine would “have an adverse impact on the landscape at Gelligaer Common” – which is listed on  the Register of Special Historic Interest in Wales.

They said: “There has been considerable support in the locality for the
scheme, but that in itself would not overcome the concerns about the impact on the landscape.”

A decision was deferred until July 8 when officers will submit a report outlining conditions on the wind turbine should the plan be passed.

Campaigners are angry that at the same meeting a report recommended granting permission, with conditions, for the Nant Llesg opencast mine near Rhymney.

The opencast mine would lead to the extraction of six million tonnes of coal on a site the size of over 500 football pitches.

Caerphilly County Borough Council received more than 5,700 objections to the proposals. 

Developers Miller Argent claim the mine would bring prosperity and jobs to the area, but protesters argue the mine would be detrimental to the local landscape and economy.

Caerphilly Friends of the Earth Co-ordinator, Bleddyn Lake, said: “To say no to one single wind turbine on visual grounds on the one hand and then to give the go ahead to a massive opencast coal mine on the other, simply beggars belief.

“We have an ongoing choice between a better, cleaner future for our families and communities with investment in sustainable ‘green’ jobs and technologies, or we can look backwards to a time when big companies came in and made a mint and then left again leaving us with a great big mess.

“We don’t need to think like that anymore. Lets not go back to those times. We don’t need to let these corporate giants pollute our homes and communities. There is a much better way of doing things that takes us forwards rather than backwards.

“Now is the time to stand up and say we want good quality jobs and a decent, safe and clean place to live and to say no to the Nant Llesg opencast mine.”

Eddy Blanche, Chairman of Fochriw and Pentwyn Residents’ Association, said that the recommendation “seems like a joke”.

He said: “I don’t know how the officers can sit there with a straight face when they turn one down on visual impact when the visual impact of Nant Llesg is going to be catastrophic to the county borough.”

A special Planning Committee meeting is due to take place on June 24 to decide whether to give Nant Llesg the go-ahead.

A Caerphilly County Borough Council spokesperson said: “Each planning application is considered on its own merits.”



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