Businesses operating open cast sites must restore the landscape says Aberavon AM

Aberavon AM, David Rees, has called on the Welsh Government to ensure that businesses operating open cast sites must restore the land when the permission to extract expires. Speaking in the Senedd today (24/01/12), Mr Rees enquired about the Welsh Government’s ability make to ensure such companies meet their obligations.

David Rees AM said:

“We must ensure that in the future, any company extracting coal from open-cast sites are legally required to build a large reserve based upon projected future costs and which will be sufficient to restore the land . It is unacceptable for companies to profit from the natural resources of an area without due care to how that area will be restored for the use of local people. ’

“For many years open-cast sites, such as the one at the east end of Margam, have provided jobs in the coal industry but at the same time have also had a great detrimental impact upon local communities and their environment. These communities need to have the reassurance that once the extraction permission comes to an end then the land around them will be restored so that they can once again access their local environment.”

His comments came as part of a question on the implementation of a 500m buffer zone for opencast developments. In a recent judgement by the Court of Appeal, Celtic Energy recently had its bid to extend one such opencast site turned down by the appeal judges and the case highlighted the use of the 500m buffer zone. Margam Opencast Coal Site is located near the villages of Pen y Bryn, Cefn Cribwr and Kenfig Hill and is approximately 196 hectares in extent. Celtic Energy had wanted to extend its opencast site further west to extract 1.7m tonnes of coal to supply the nearby Corus steelworks and Aberthaw Power Station.