Campaigners fighting for full restoration of the former Parc Slip opencast mine at Margam – now flooded to a depth of 108
metres – have set up an online petition calling on First Minister Carwyn Jones to ensure the work is carried out.
“We urgently need the Government to take on the responsibility of ensuring the promised and agreed restoration of this site,” residents Jan Adamson, Gaynor Ball, secretary of local action group Protecting and Conserving Communities Together (Pact), and Suzanne Decelis said in a statement.
“An online petition has been set up asking Carwyn Jones, First Minister, to secure the full, promised restoration,” they said, adding that “the local authorities of Bridgend and Neath Port Talbot . . . are on the verge of accepting an unsafe, unsatisfactory and inadequate alternative to restoration.”
The water-filled void, which is half a mile wide, could pose a serious risk of flooding to nearby communities unless prompt action is taken, according to planning officers.
At present, pumping work is maintaining the water at a safe level and is being paid for by the site’s owner, a company called Oak. But Oak and its predecessor Celtic Energy have not fulfilled obligations to backfill the void, which was a condition of a 2006 planning permission. Restoration of the site was also a condition. But no restoration work has been carried out.
A ring-fenced restoration fund for such work currently stands at £5.7 million, but full restoration has been costed at £40 million to £50 million.
Neath Port Talbot Council has decided not to apply for an enforcement notice, but instead advised Oak to apply for planning permission for an alternative restoration scheme in the hope of making the site safe beyond 2017.
“We need the void to be drained and filled with the onsite tips, our countryside returned, and our roads and footpaths reinstated,” the campaigners said.
“The alternative is not only not good enough, it is unsafe, unsatisfactory and inadequate. It is an insult to the communities that have put up with the opencast intrusion and pollution for over 20 years in the expectation that ‘it would all be put back’ – not wishful thinking but written, signed and agreed in consent conditions from the beginning.
“We don’t want a death trap on our doorstep.”
To view the online petition visit https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/secure-the-full-promised-restoration-of-park-slip-margam-opencast-coal-site