'Dump Varteg mining plan' - Torfaen AM
1:10pm Friday 9th August 2013 in Pontypool news
THE Assembly Member for Torfaen is urging the Minister for Housing and Regeneration to reject plans for open-cast mining close to a Blaenavon school.
AM Lynne Neagle has written to Carl Sargeant outlining the case against opencasting on Varteg Hill.
The decision had lain with previous minister John Griffiths, who sent out a letter stating that he was “minded to allow” the plans.
Due to a Welsh Government cabinet reshuffle at the end of June, the decision has now fallen to Mr Sargeant.
Labour AM Ms Neagle wrote: “I sympathise with the fact that you have been left to deal with this, because of a grave error of judgement by your predecessor, who saw fit to issue a ‘minded to approve’ letter, despite the fact that the open-cast proposals directly fly in the face of a flagship Welsh Government policy.”
Ms Neagle has campaigned for the guidelines of a 500-metre buffer between open-cast mining and dwellings to be made law, as there are homes within this distance of the proposed mine, and Ysgol Bryn Onnen is just 120 metres away.
She said: “The Welsh Government will be left with egg on its face; once again being placed in the unenviable position of explaining to the people of Wales why its policy simply doesn’t do what it says on the tin.”
The decision was sent to the Welsh Government following an appeal from Glamorgan Power after Torfaen council had rejected the plans to extract 256,000 tonnes of coal.
Ms Neagle claims the scheme would threaten the wellbeing of residents who will face disruption from noise and dust, as well as Blaenavon’s Unesco World Heritage status.
She said: “Indeed, I believe it is your prerogative as minister, and more importantly, simply the right thing for you to do, to stand up for the people of Varteg and reject these proposals outright.”
She points out that the community benefit from the mining project is “bare minimum” and that the jobs created will “in all likelihood go to skilled contractors from outside the locality”.
“I urge you to once again give these matters your full consideration, to reject outright these nefarious plans,”
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