FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ACTION CAMP AT FFOS-Y-FRAN OPENCAST PUTS COAL ON AGENDA FOR ASSEMBLY ELECTIONS
Merthyr Tydfil, Wales — Hundreds of people will gather near Merthyr Tydfil to shut down the UK’s largest opencast coal mine – Ffos-y-fran – just days before Wales goes to the polls.
The ‘End Coal Now’ camp is being organised by climate activist network Reclaim the Power over the May Day bank holiday. Participants are calling for a ban on opencast coal mining across Wales and the UK and the creation of thousands of green jobs, to tackle climate change and dangerous air pollution in Welsh communities.
Ellen Gibson, a spokesperson from Reclaim the Power, commented:
“The local community have battled the giant Ffos-y-fran mine polluting their homes and our planet for nearly a decade. Now we are joining them to resist coal company Miller Argent’s attempts to override local democracy and force through a new mine next door.
“Last April, the Welsh Assembly voted for a moratorium on opencast coal mining but the government ignored them. Wales deserves a transition away from polluting energy, towards clean energy and thousands of jobs. Our camp will show the candidates running for election that the public demands a ban on opencast coal mining across Wales, and the rest of the UK.”
The camp has been welcomed by local campaigners, who have opposed the 11 million tonne Ffos-y-fran opencast coal mine since 2007 and are now fighting a new proposed mine next door at Nant Llesg. Caerphilly County Council rejected the application for the new mine in August 2015 but the coal company Miller Argent is trying to overturn this decision.
Chris and Alyson Austin from local campaign group, United Valleys Action Group commented:
“This camp will boost the local community who are campaigning against dangerous levels of air pollution, noise and degradation of our beautiful landscape.
“It will also draw greater attention to the bullying tactics coal companies are using to try and overturn community rejection and enclose common land at Nant Llesg.”
Ahead of a mass trespass to halt mining operations at Ffos-y-Fran, Reclaim the Power are inviting Assembly candidates and local councillors to affirm their opposition to the Nant Llesg coal mine at a “Solidarity Sunday” rally on May 1st.
The action camp puts south Wales on the map, as one of twelve actions happening on every continent for a global month of action in support of a transition away from fossil fuels. International campaigners will join the camp to share their experiences of resisting dirty energy projects in Germany, Bangladesh and elsewhere.
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Notes for Editors
- For more information on the action, visit http://reclaimthepower.org.uk/endcoalnow
- Local people have campaigned against the huge Ffos-y-fran opencast coal mine since 2007, and are now fighting the proposed mine at Nant Llesg. Visit http://stopffosyfran.co.uk/ and UVAG’s Facebook page to find out more about the community’s fight. With the recent sale of the mine to new company Gwent Investments Ltd., there’s no guarantee the mines will ever be restored.
- Coal is the dirtiest fuel of all. It produces more CO2 than any other fossil fuel; releases sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides into the air, which damage health, create acid rain and smog; releases toxins into the local water supply, including mercury and other heavy metals; and mining causes noise pollution which breach legal limits.
- To keep global temperatures from increasing beyond 2oC, scientists say we need to keep more than 80% of coal reserves in the ground. 195 countries agreed in Paris in December to try to keep temperatures below 1.5OC, and reduce carbon emissions to ‘net zero’ in the second half of the century.
- A recent survey by Friends of the Earth Cymru found over three-quarters of respondents were strong supporters of a “fossil-free” Wales.
- Air pollution from coal plants in the UK were estimated to cause 1,600 premature deaths a year. Coal mined at Ffos-y-fran supplies the Aberthaw coal power station in south Wales. Aberthaw has been in breach of legal air pollution limits since 2008, for which the UK government is currently being taken to court by the European Commission. A recent report by Friends of the Earth Cymru estimates that, factoring in its health and environmental impacts, Aberthaw is a net drain on society to the tune of £400million.
- The UK government has announced an intention to phase out coal power by 2025. Coal from Ffos-y-fran fuels the highly-polluting Aberthaw coal power station in south Wales, which has been in breach of EU air quality regulations for eight years.
- The Welsh Assembly voted in 2015 for a moratorium on new opencast coal mines, but this has not been turned into law by the current Welsh government. Countries around the world, led by the Pacific Island States, are calling for a global moratorium on all new coal mines.
- Merthyr is one of the most deprived parts of the UK. Of the 432 local authorities in the UK, life expectancy in 2005 came 429th.
- As of September 2015 2168 people were employed in coal extraction in the UK. In comparison more than 110,000 people in Britain had jobs in renewable energy generation as of May last year.
- This action is part of Groundswell: a year of escalating direct action planned by Reclaim the Power in the wake of the Paris climate talks.