South West Wales

East Pit resort plan 'approved' but ministers could override decision

Opencast mine workers demonstrating outside the planning committee meeting
Image caption Dozens of opencast mine workers demonstrated outside the planning committee meeting

Plans for a country park, lake and resort on an opencast mine site have been approved by councillors, but Welsh ministers could still override the decision.

Celtic Energy has said delays in approving the plans for East Pit, Amman Valley, could lead to 70 job losses.

But the Welsh government said it needed time to consider whether it should be Welsh ministers who make the decision.

Neath Port Talbot's planning committee voted in favour of the plans.

The plans include a 120-bed hotel, 78 holiday lodges, a lake, campsite, visitor centre, dive centre and shop.

Coal extraction would also continue at the site for another three years, if the plans go ahead.

Dozens of opencast mine workers demonstrated outside the planning committee meeting, calling for their jobs to be kept safe.

Image caption Celtic Energy said 70 staff could be made redundant if plans are refused or ministers do not make a decision soon

Will Watson, chief executive of Celtic Energy, said he had written to the Welsh government and council warning a delay could threaten jobs.

The application, by The Lakes at Rhosamman Ltd, covers 585 hectares (1,445 acres) of land near Gwaun Cae Gurwen.

Objectors claim there would be a detrimental affect of continued mining on houses nearby. They want the land returned to its original state.

They also said the edge of a national park was an inappropriate site for a resort.

But supporters have said the continued coal extraction will save 120 jobs on the site, as well as local contractors and the 96 firms supplying East Pit.

A Welsh government spokesman said the decision on whether the application should be referred to Welsh ministers would be issued in due course.

Image caption The application covers 585 hectares (1,445 acres) of land

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