Opencast Mining

Opencast mining is a highly destructive form of coal extraction bearing heavy social, health,economic and environmental costs for the countryside and mining communities. It is also a major producer of climate wrecking carbon dioxide. It has been described as one of the most environmentally damaging processes being carried out in the UK.It has a particular detrimental effect on the special Rhos Pasture habitats of Wales. The industry has undertaken a major marketing campaign recently using the term "Clean Coal" which in reality does not exist.

Opencast Coal mining has been a major campaign of Swansea FoE for over 20 years. We have fought to protect the hills and valleys across South Wales and support the local communities in the areas where opencasting is taking place.  One big action was around 1995 when the Selar Site was given the go ahead and resulted in the destruction of a Site of Special Scientific Interest by the opencast company Celtic Energy.  More recently opencast has raised its head again with proposals for an extension to the Parc Slip site at Kenfig Hill now called the Margam site, the starting of work at the Ffos y Fran site in Merthyr Tydfil.and proposals by Draeth Developments in the Gwendraeth Valley

Opencast companies make many  false claims about their ability to restore sites. The truth is quite simple it is an ecological nonsense to claim that you can pulverise a mountain and then restore habitats to what they were. The delicate subtle factors of hydrology, for one thing, make it impossible to restore the habitats to their original state. In reality you usually can spot opencast restoration by its unnatural colour and often the presence of hedgebanks made of shale. The mountain streams which once meandered down the valleys through rushy pastures are now just concrete or plastic gutters which follow unnaturally straight courses.

Aside from the damage the opencast companies do directly there is the damage they do with their  lobbying, which miseducates officials at all levels about conservation. When they make questionable claims about restoration and habitat creation, they make it easier for other people to get permission to destroy other habitats. Much of the restoration consists of a largely barren green desert as regards biodiversity.

Swansea Friends of the Earth has been at the forefront of opposing Opencast in the Welsh Valleys.

Swansea Friends of the Earth