South East Wales

Opencast mine plans rejected by Caerphilly councillors

Image caption Campaigners held a protest outside the council meeting in Caerphilly

Plans for a new opencast mine in the Rhymney valley have been rejected by Caerphilly councillors.

A proposal by mining company Miller Argent to open Nant Llesg mine was refused at a meeting on Wednesday.

The firm had said the surface coal mine would provide up to 239 full-time jobs and lead to a £13m annual investment.

Friends of the Earth called it "a historic victory" yet Miller Argent said it was a missed investment.

Councillors opposed the application on the grounds of visual impact, with 12 voting against and two abstaining.

Image caption Plans for the Nant Llesg were discussed by council members

Craig Bennett, chief executive of Friends of the Earth, described the decision as "a historic victory for people power and the climate".

"Caerphilly councillors have put themselves on the right side of history by voting to leave fossil fuels in the ground where they belong," he said.

"The local community have fought long and hard against this opencast coal mine proposal.

"We urge the applicants, Miller Argent, to respect this democratic decision, and to invest in green jobs for the future."

Neil Brown, managing director at Miller Argent questioned the decision, saying: "It's a rejection for a project that's going to introduce hundreds of millions of pounds into the local economy, into an area that is desperately deprived, one of the most deprived areas in south Wales.

"I mean, who else is going to bring this sort of investment into the upper Rhymney Valley?"

Councillors had unanimously decided in June to defer a decision on the opencast mine to allow time for officers to explore grounds for refusal.

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