Climate campaigners are pushing for legal action to shut down UK’s largest opencast coalmine in Wales.
The permission to operate the Ffos-y-Fran mine near Merthyr Tydfil expired in September 2022, but the mine’s operations have continued ever since. According to the BBC, more than 300,000 tonnes of coal has been produced at the site since September.
The mine operator Merthyr (South Wales) was handed a legal notice in July stating the breach of licence, and that the company was operating the mine in contravention of the 1994 Coal Industry Act.
The notice stated: “You are required to cease all extraction of coal outside of the licence area with immediate effect and inform the authority that this has taken place.”
Climate campaigners state that the Welsh Government and the Merthyr Tydfil council can issue a “stop notice” to prevent the operator from mining further.
The company argued that the mine was required to supply coal to the steel industry.
However, in April this year, the council planning officials rejected Merthyr’s application to extend the licence until 2024, suggesting that the extension was not in keeping with the Welsh Government’s policies on climate change.
On Wednesday last week, campaign groups Coal Action Network and Good Law Project filed for a judicial review in the High Court, arguing the Welsh ministers did not act promptly enough.
In May, the company served an enforcement notice to end the extraction of coal from the land. The notice would have come into effect from 27 June; however, the company appealed the order, granting itself more time until a decision is reached.
The mine was originally approved in 2005, with operations starting in 2007.
There has been continued opposition to the mine’s proximity to homes in the locality, with the closest homes initially located less than 40m away.