Gilfach Iago row poised to re-ignite
12:54pm Tuesday 1st October 2013 in News
THE simmering row over a former Saron opencast site is liable to re-ignite after Llandybie community councillors learned a coal mining company is poised to re-open talks with Carmarthenshire County Council officers.
Celtic Energy, which took over the Gilfach Iago opencast site from the National Coal Board in 1984, was ordered at a 2001 public inquiry to reinstate a series of rural roads after coal extraction ceased in 1997.
But in December 2011 the Guardian revealed that the company was seeking a variation of one of the planning conditions and was now offering to install bridlepaths and footpaths instead of roads.
Councillors have reacted furiously to the latest news that talks are to be re-opened with a company they feel has defied the outcome of a public inquiry.
“This makes a complete mockery of the public inquiry,” said chairman Peter Roberts. “The message seems to be that if you lose such an inquiry you just wait for a few years and then come back having not carried out what you were supposed to.
“They cannot be allowed to get away with this – from now on we’re not going to believe a single word anyone says.”
Cllr Pat Tiddy argued the council had “an obligation” to ensure planning conditions were met.
“We should write to Celtic Energy, saying we deplore their failure to impose these conditions and just let them get on with it,” he added. “This doesn’t smell very nice at all.”
County councillor Peter Cooper had earlier revealed Celtic Energy was due to meet officers and that a public meeting – possibly at Saron Hall – was in the pipeline.
Fellow county councillor Anthony Davies maintained most of the residents of Pantyblodau Road did not want the roads reinstated, but technical officer Brian James argued that as far as he was concerned most people living in the general area of Blaenau, Penygroes and Saron did.
“The public inquiry came down forcefully on the side of the villagers,” he said.
When Cllr Roberts said he suspected Celtic Energy was “going to dangle a carrot” in front of residents, Mr James retorted: “It’s going to have to be a hell of a big carrot.”
Cllr Nigel Evans asked: “Why is it that after that public inquiry we have still not seen any enforcement action on the part of the county council or any action on the part of Celtic Energy?”
When Celtic Energy’s proposal to replace the suspended highway with a bridleway was first revealed in December 2011, operations director Rob Thompson insisted it
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