Everyone is doing it — going back to coal, that is. CCNet’s Benny Peiser features this August Sky News item about an open-pit mine in Wales, land of the occasional vowel. [You can sign up to receive Benny’s morning missive here.]
THE RETURN OF KING COAL IN BRITAIN
Open cast mining is experiencing a resurgence across the country and nowhere is the protest louder than in one town in South Wales.
Sky’s environment correspondent Catherine Jacob visited Merthyr Tydfil, home to the UK’s biggest open cast mine: Ffos-y-Fran.
For decades, the green hills around Merthyr Tydfil have been free from the sights and sounds of the coal industry, but now, the hum of heavy machinery once again fills the air.
On the outskirts of the town lies Ffos-y-Fran, Britain’s biggest open cast coal mine.
One thousand acres are being excavated, to a depth of 600ft: over the next 17 years, 11 million tonnes of coal will be extracted.
The problem is, the mine is just a stone’s throw from the houses of some Merthyr Tydfil residents.
For the past few years, backed by environmental campaigners, some have carried out a lengthy and tireless prevention campaign citing unbearable air and noise pollution.
But their cries fell on deaf ears and mining finally began in earnest here last year….
Concerns over climate change have seen environmental campaigners descending on coal-related sites across the whole country, to prevent a planned resurgence of the industry.
Ffos-y-fran is one of 35 so-called “surface” or open cast mines either in use or being planned in the UK.
With gas prices high the Government is determined to use the coal that’s currently sitting in the ground.
But environmental groups who have targeted the site say burning the UK’s coal reserves will jeopardise the fight against climate change.
Environmentalist Sophie Wynne-Jones took part in a recent direct action at the site.
She told us: “We’re already on our way to major climate change because of the emissions we’ve already got in the atmosphere.
“So to be putting more out, while just talking about maybe addressing the problem some time in the next 20 years is ridiculous. We need to do something right now.”
With energy security and climate change battling for supremacy on the Government’s agenda, South Wales is not the only place in Britain where a new coal front is opening up.