South West Wales

East Pit: Carmarthenshire asks for mine plan call-in

East Pit
Image caption Celtic Energy wants to extend the working of East Pit opencast mine

A council has asked for proposals to extend the life of an opencast mine in a neighbouring county to be called in by ministers for review.

Celtic Energy has bid to continue to operate East Pit in the Amman Valley.

The site is in Neath Port Talbot but a report before Carmarthenshire councillors said people there will be affected by noise and pollution.

Neath Port Talbot council said it was monitoring the operations at the site and all complaints were investigated.

Coal reserves are due to be exhausted at the mine in around five years but the planning extension is required for the last three.

Celtic Energy has submitted the application to Neath Port Talbot (NPT) council.

Holiday lodges

Image caption Developers have plans for a country park and lake at the site once the mine is worked out

The site is near Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen in Neath Port Talbot but is on the border with Carmarthenshire.

Once work is finished at the opencast mine, developers hope to go ahead with £35m proposals for a country park, hotel, holiday lodges and diving school on the site.

Those plans are also before NPT, which makes the final decision, but Carmarthenshire council has to be consulted on both applications.

At a meeting on Thursday, Carmarthenshire planners backed a highly critical report which said the "further extension of the site will significantly extend the period of disturbance" for nearby residents.

They decided to ask the Welsh government to call in the planning application.

'Blasting'

In response, NPT said it was considering both the coal mining extension request and the development proposals and confirmed that Celtic Energy was continuing to operate at the site without planning permission.

It said: "The council has agreed not to take enforcement action pending the determination of these applications, nevertheless we are monitoring the operations being undertaken at the site.

"All complaints received are investigated including those relating to blasting, which are all in compliance with the guidance issued by the Welsh government in addition to the original planning conditions."

In January, Neath AM Gwenda Thomas said ministers should call in the development plan due to concerns over its impact and proximity to the Brecon Beacons National Park.

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