THE Coal Authority is taking action after discovering coal mining happening outside of the licence boundary at Ffos-y-Fran opencast mine in Merthyr Tydfil.
A recent inspection of the Ffos-y-Fran site by the Coal Authority highlighted that the operator, Merthyr (South Wales) Ltd, is coaling outside of their licence boundary.
The Coal Authority said it has now begun enforcement action to end coaling in this wider area in line with its legislative powers.
It said that the operator must cease all extraction of coal outside of the licensed area and confirm in writing to the authority that all extraction of coal
outside of the licensed area has ceased.
The authority said it is applying its enforcement powers and would seek such relief from the courts as is necessary.
It said relief may be sought in the form of an injunction, preventing coal-mining
operations from continuing, pending the plan and program having been agreed to bring all coal-mining operations outside of the licensed area to an end.
Planning permission for mining at the opencast mine ran out in September last year but residents and environmental campaigners claim mining has continued despite that.
An application to extend permission for mining at the site was rejected by the council’s planning committee in April and the council issued an enforcement notice on the company in June ordering them to stop coaling there. But campaigners say it has continued and called on Welsh Government to step in to stop it.
An appeal against the enforcement notice ordering the mining at the site to stop has been lodged by the company.
The Coal Authority said: “Local authorities are the primary authority for the regulation of surface mines, through planning permission and enforcement.
“Surface mine operators also require a coal mining licence from the Coal Authority and other relevant approvals from bodies such as Natural Resources Wales and the Health and Safety Executive.
“Ffos-y-Fran surface mine currently has a coal mining licence until February 2097. A recent inspection of the Ffos-y-Fran site by the Coal Authority has highlighted that the operator is coaling outside of their licence boundary.
“We have contacted the operator and begun enforcement action to end coaling in this wider area in line with our legislative powers. Further information can be found on our enforcement webpage at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/ffos-y-fran-enforcement-action.
“We will continue to provide advice and expertise to Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council, Welsh Government and other partners as needed.”
Merthyr (South Wales) Ltd confirmed that an appeal has been lodged with Welsh ministers against the enforcement notice from the council but added that it would not be appropriate to comment further whilst the appeal process is ongoing.
Welsh Government said it is unable to comment at this stage, as to do so may jeopardise any future decision Welsh ministers may have to make on the matter.