Merthyr Tydfil mine 'extension' appeal block fails

Ffos-y-Fran opencast mine Ffos-y-Fran opencast mine is on a hill overlooking Merthyr Tydfil

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A legal attempt to stop the further development of opencast mining near Merthyr Tydfil has failed.

Merthyr resident Elizabeth Condron was challenging a planned coal processing site next to Ffos-y-Fran mine, one of Europe's biggest opencast sites.

Ms Condron has led a campaign against the site since 2005.

The Court of Appeal said Ms Condron had failed to show that an environmental impact assessment into the site should have been ordered.

Derelict land

The mine and processing plant's operator Miller Argent has said the opencast site will eventually reclaim derelict land and bring benefits to the area.

But local people say the site is just 36m (118ft) away from some houses, raising concerns over noise and dust.

Ms Condron was challenging planning permissions granted to Miller Argent for an adjacent 23-hectare site, the Cwmbargoed Disposal Point, which is three kilometres from her home.

Caerphilly County Borough Council and Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council granted planning permission for the extension and refurbishment of facilities at Ffos y Fan, including a coal washing plant and a coal haulage vehicle workshop.

Ms Condron argued that the improved facility will process 1m tonnes of coal per year at a rate of 500 tonnes per hour, creating dust, causing problems for surface drainage, and blighting the surrounding land with light pollution.

'Acted unlawfully'

She argued that the two councils failed to seek opinion as to whether a full environmental impact assessment should be carried out prior to granting permission, under European regulations. As a result, she claimed the councils acted unlawfully.

At the Court of Appeal, in London, Lady Justice Arden, Lord Justice Wilson and Mr Justice Henderson rejected her appeal.

Lady Justice Arden found that she had failed to demonstrate an arguable case in law that the authorities were required to consider the need for an environmental assessment in accordance with European law.

She said that, even if she had found differently, Mrs Condron's case may well have failed because she had delayed bringing her legal challenge to the permissions.

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