THIS FIGHT IS NOT OVER - NOT BY A LONG CHALK - WE WILL GET JUSTICE FOR MERTHYR
<<< see the Latest Updates link on the left for links to all the latest news and information about our fight.
* STOP PRESS *
> (Thursday 2nd May 2013) *** It's time to resurrect this website ***
It's been untouched due to fears of adversely impacting crucial legal cases currently active, but there are far too many extremely important issues that need to be aired. The operator of the Ffos-y-fran opencast coal mine, Miller-Argent, has announced that they will be putting in a planning application to open a new mine (or some say extend Ffos-y-fran!) across in the next valley at Nant Llesg, Rhymney. This proposal/planning application will be submitted to Caerphilly County Borough Council (CCBC) and is proposed to last for 15 years.
> A judge today (Tuesday 29th march 2011) ruled that the Group Litigation Order is allowed to be heard at the Court of Appeal. This is the appeal against an earlier decision not to grant the GLO because of a perceived lack of funding. The judge also approved a Cost Protection Order (CPO) for this case and the forthcoming appeal. <
> Many people have asked us if the Group Litigation Order (GLO) challenge by Merthyr Residents is still going forward, or whether it has been quashed. The GLO is not being organised by the RAFF Group, so we verified the details with the solicitors, Richard Buxton Environmental & Public Law Solicitors, and the current situation is that an appeal has been lodged in the Court of Appeal against the court's decision not to grant the GLO. So, it is still very much ongoing, with over 500 local residents standing firm. <
> The Group Litigation Order ((GLO) has come before the court at the Cardiff District Registry who were to rule on whether the GLO could progress. The court ruled that there was sufficient evidence to grant a Group Litigation Order (GLO), but it declined to do so because the insurance position covering some residents was not sufficiently finalised. The Judge stated that the Court will reconsider the application for a GLO once the funding position was certain.
n.b. - The purpose of a GLO is to hear all the claims together. As there are now over 500 residents seeking to claim against Miller Argent it is essential to proceed with legal case on this basis. <
> A number of Merthyr Residents have contacted Richard Buxton Environmental & Public Law Solicitors in relation to dust and noise nuisance arising from the Ffos-y-fran opencast operations and that they are have applied for a group litigation order to take nuisance proceedings against Miller-Argent (South Wales) Ltd in order to stop the dust and noise arising. The residents claim that the mining operation at Ffos-y-Fran is causing nuisance and interfering with the use and enjoyment of their homes.
If you have been experiencing noise and/or dust problems which you believe may be caused by the opencast then please contact Richard Buxton’s Solicitors on:
01223 328933 or by e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org <
Background Information - Our Predicament
Merthyr Tydfil is surrounded by coal deposits, and has always been an irresistible attraction to speculators who want to make vast profits for minimum outlay. Miller-Argent Mining are just the latest protagonists. The biggest problem is that this time they have the backing of Westminster, the Welsh Assembly Government, and Merthyr Tydfil Borough Council. This has come about because of the Labour government's lack of a vision in their energy policy, and Wales' reliance on the Aberthaw coal fired power station. They want as much coal as they can get as cheaply as they can source it - and damn the impact on the people of Merthyr Tydfil!
Tydfil is densely populated (approximately
60-70,000 50 - 55,000
residents, unsurprisingly it's a falling population...) all living
extremely close to the coal seams. It is also situated in a valley 'bowl',
with much of the coal in elevated positions which loom over the populace.
You can now appreciate the conflict; money versus the impact on the
Add to that the fact that this is Wales, England's dumping ground, and Merthyr Tydfil is Wales's dumping ground, and you can see just how damned we are!
We have people living up to only 37 Metres (40yds/120ft) from this huge mining operation, with absolutely no protection from noise or fallout. The Welsh Assembly Government will not agree to a buffer zone of any sort, and no compensation or re-location has been offered. Miller-Argent is a self regulating company so the council believe that they have abrogated responsibility for the mines impact on the people of Merthyr.
The noise monitoring and dust monitoring is carried out by the company itself! Hard to believe, isn't it? All data is owned by the company themselves and the public has no call on it. Sanitised reports are produced and supplied to the council once a year. No, I'm not making it up. It's like giving the keys to your house to a burglar and then asking them not to rob your house! ...and you won't check that they haven't done so until next year!
The working hours are from 07:00 to 23:00 (currently 22:00, but this could be withdrawn at any time). The droning noise of the machinery is unceasing and all pervading filling our every waking hour. We are allowed 8 Hrs sleep, as long as it is after 11:00 pm and your up before 07:00! (Such a caring company!)
A Health Impact Study was commissioned and produced (against great opposition) by a highly qualified team from Cardiff University. It was headed up by Dr Goldby and the conclusions were damning. Merthyr Tydfil already has the second highest occurrence of chest complaints in Britain so you can imagine what constant dust, dirt, noise and diesel fumes will do.
Merthyr Tydfil Council, The Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) and the mining company (Miller-Argent) all refuse to acknowledge or accept the validity of this report...(even though it was funded by the WAG, they distanced themselves from it when they could see it wasn't going their way!).
The operation was initially planned to last 17 years, but we have been told that there are plans to take this to 25 and 40 years if necessary.
The coal from Ffos-y-Fran is supplying approximately 40% of the needs of the 'dirty dinosaur' that is Aberthaw Coal Fired Power Station. The working life of this power station has recently been extended to 2025 and this now closely matches the proposed lifespan of Ffos-y-Fran.
Aberthaw is the biggest polluter in Wales (The Industrial Pollution league table 2006: In 2006 the power station pumped out more than 7.4million tonnes of CO2 (carbon dioxide)), and in the top 5 largest polluters in Britain. The most damaging pollutant of these is CO2, a 'greenhouse gas' responsible, along with methane, for having the greatest impact on climate change in the world today
Despite one heck of a lot of rhetoric, there are no plans to implement Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) at Aberthaw power station. So, Aberthaw will continue to burn coal from the South Wales coalfields completely unfettered for the rest of it's working life. This gives approximately 7.5 mega (million!) tonnes x 17 = 127,500,000 tonnes of CO2 into our atmosphere
A statement and poem by Merthyr poet Mike Jenkins:
At times I feel the exact opposite to 'Famous' Seamus's dictum that all poetry proceeds from a received tradition. Sometimes I'm totally with the Beats and the notion that poetry's like be-bop jazz : you begin with an image , but have no idea where you're going to or when it will end. Like Kerouac's prose, it can blow hot or cold, but I'm excited by this because a poem can take over like that music and carry you away to places you never imagined journeying to.
The closest I've come to it musically is jamming on the blues harp, all brought back by last weekend's annual visit to my beloved Aberystwyth and the great cameraderie of old Uni. mates ( who weren't the jammers, but knew them). Inspired by a purpley haze we'd jam on the grass by the castle ; but, above all, there was our drunken return to my digs where myself ( blues harp, key of E ), Scouse Pete ( boogie piano and darts ) and Red Mal ( acoustic guitar and occasional vomit) would extemporize into the early hours. Luckily, there was no audience!
Poetry, however, requires a degree of sobriety and with an idea based on observing the filming of 'Dagenham Girls' in the now derelict Hoover factory in Merthyr, I had the rough outline of a poem in my head, which would switch from location to location in Merthyr examining the possibilities. I never expected it to work out as apocalyptic and, retrospectively, I attribute that to Ffos-y-fran.
I'm plagued by this huge opencast site overlooming the town like the numerous coal and lime tips of old. It seems to demonstrate how little we've advanced, how we're still exploited for the 'black stuff' despite all the cosmetic greening. They would not allow such a site ( due to last at least 13 years ) in the leafy lanes of Radyr and Creigiau.
In the 80's, I led a campaign against opencasting and my most distinct memory is of a large public meeting at Merthyr College addressed by representatives of Celtic Energy, who were ready to opencast south of where I live. One man stood up and spoke most eloquently and emotionally - ' We've paid our price for coal at Aberfan. Surely, we should pay no more!'
Opencast is full of dirt, noise, dust and diesel fumes : it's an environmental catastrophe. Moreover, it reinforces our reliance on power-station coal at a time when we must look to sustainable alternatives. It puts off other, cleaner industries from investing in communities.
I cannot escape Ffos-y-fran. Over a year ago, I wrote a poem about the writer George Monbiot and other campaigners who dressed as polar bears and chained themselves to the machinery there. The land at the back of my house, know as the Waun, is under constant threat of opencasting. Both our AM Huw Lewis and MP Dai Havard have consistently failed to oppose its scourge. Hopefully, the Climate Camp, soon to be set up, will be a symbol of resistance.
MERTHYR FILM SETS
What about Ffos-y-fran
as a new planet for 'Doctor Who',
one called Devastation
with mutant creatures
trying to take over the Earth
with their poisonous dust?
What about all the empty shops
like Woolies being scenes
of an Apocalypse, after
the poison has spread
and many people are dead?
What about our politicians
suddenly appearing from Penarth and Afghanistan
like aliens in the town
baffled at the emptiness ?
What about the heroin addicts
with starved and young-old faces,
with craters in their eyes
full of that dust
and unable to cry?
What about those with metal sticks
as extra limbs prodding the pavements
and others hauling their own flesh
like bags of frozen food stitched
beneath elastic waists ; all searching
for a place not contaminated?
What about the cameras above the streets
recording ,unedited, as the rats and pigeons
scavenge on all the droppings
of the last people to leave
before the roller-blinds come down
and everything's sucked into a black hole above town?