Coal applications set to be rejected by Welsh Government
Thursday, October 18, 2018 - 10:33
Draft planning guidance says proposals for all forms of coal operation should no longer be permitted
BBC News this week reported that future coal mining applications are set to be rejected as a matter of policy for the first time in Wales.
New proposed planning rules, which are due to be finalized by the Welsh Government by the end of this year, would only allow permission under ‘wholly exceptional circumstances’. The draft planning policy says: ‘Proposals for opencast, deep-mine development or colliery spoil disposal should not be permitted’.
The new rules would apply to new applications, whilst existing licenses would be allowed to run their course. There are two major opencast operations currently in production in Wales: Ffos-y-fran and East Pit.
Will Watson, chief executive of Celtic Energy, operators of the East Pit site, said the proposed guidance was the next step in the UK and Welsh Governments’ pursuit of energy decarbonization and was not unexpected.
‘Whilst we have argued unsuccessfully in the past that the reduction in energy generation from coal is being pursued too quickly, we are now moving our focus away from coal extraction to area regeneration projects post coaling,’ he told the BBC.
Welsh opencast coal production peaked at 3 million tonnes in 1995, but fell to 1.2 million in the early 2000s. By 2014 production had risen to 2.5 million tonnes with more than 80% in three counties: Rhondda Cynon Taff, Merthyr Tydfil and Neath Port Talbot.