Posts Tagged ‘Loose Anti Opencast Network’

Ok, here goes. This is going to be a long post, bear with me.

If you aren’t ANGERED by this, you aren’t paying ATTENTION.

This is what we at United Valleys Action Group with the help of Merthyr Tydfil Branch Merthyr Tydfil Friends of the Earth and other organisations have found, as well as public domain search at Company’s House and input from well respected national journalists including George Monbiot.
Firstly on December 23rd, a company, Miller Argent (South Wales) Ltd applied to the UK government Planning Inspectorate (PINS) in Cardiff to put up a 5KM fence around Nant Llesg upper moorland (near Fochriw) even though it is COMMON LAND,
they are also trying to take away PUBLIC RIGHTS of Way on land that has a SCHEDULED ANCIENT MONUMENT.
they are also launching an appeal against the CCBC planning hearing decision on August 4th 2015, to turn down the opencast mining of Nant Llesg.
This is a three pronged application and it has swamped those that want to protect and Save Nant Llesg from destruction and loss of amenities with highly technical paperwork.
Let me remind you of what happened last August:
Remember these words from councillor Ken James, Caerphilly county borough council’s cabinet member with responsibility for planning, he said:

“The outcome signals the conclusion of one of the most complex and in-depth planning applications that our planning committee has ever had to consider.”

“Ultimately, our planning committee had to make a judgement, and it voted to reject the proposal on the grounds of visual impact. I would reiterate however, that this decision was taken following a thorough, lengthy and in-depth planning process.”

Then remember these direct THREATS from Miller Argent CEO Neil Brown who wrote to Caerphilly councillors threatening to try to recover “substantial” costs from our financially vulnerable council if they voted down the mine!
OK, so the advert was then run again by M-A’s representatives in the Rhymney Valley & Merthyr Express on New Years day and United Valleys Action Group committee met and decided to mobilise community objections. (Objection form attached below.)

Screen Shot 2016-01-15 at 15.56.43

This is the United Valleys Action Group prepared copy of the objection letter to the proposed works and fencing off of common land around Gelligaer / Merthyr common.

You do not have to live locally to object against this…
THIS IS A UK-WIDE planning enquiry run by a UK Government Quango.
Please print out the document and fill in your objections.
Must arrive at the Planning Inspectorate by 27th January 2016.

On January 7th we found out that a new company Gwent Investments Ltd (G.I Ltd) had registered paperwork with Company’s House registering the sale & transfer of 10.4 Millions shares from the partnership holding company Miller Argent Holdings which is a company where 50% of shares were owned by MILLER MINING LIMITED of Edinburgh & 50% by ARGENT ESTATES LIMITED.
The shares are nominally priced at 1penny valuing the total transfer of shares at just £104,000.
Allegedly the primary financial backers of Argent Estates, BT Pensions & Hermes have disinvested from coal mining and fossil fuel extraction?

We searched Company’s House and G.I Ltd is registered at Llanover House in Pontypridd where a further TWO HUNDRED & TEN businesses claim to have an address there.
The company has not registered any accounts and we can find only two directors according to April 2015 Annual Returns.
One of those Directors was responsible for purchasing Maes Manor hotel for just £520,000 leaving £1.2million and £92.5k owing to various creditors and businesses who got NOTHING.
That Director then left G.I Ltd and became Director of the hotel. (

But this company now seems to be nominally the owners of the parent company of both Miller Argent (Ffos Y Fran) Ltd and of Miller Argent (South Wales) Ltd.
Numerous phone calls have been made to MTCBC and Merthyr councillors but they deny knowledge even though all this information is in the public domain and can be found within seconds.
Why the secrecy?
Why has no councillor investigated this evidence and asked the questions and replied with answers to concerned residents?

So far, 15,800+ people have read about our worse fears over what has happened to the operators of Ffos – Y – Fran via the “Loose Anti Opencasting Network” and a message to George Monbiot.


United Valleys Action Group have grave fears over whether Ffos-Y-Fran Opencast restoration well ever take place, the restoration bond was not money in an Escro account, it was an agreed amount of cash in 2007 and was vociferously fought at the time as being a ludicrously low amount.
The Guardian report in April 2015 written by George Monbiot, have put the restoration costs closer to £165 Million!
And Stephen Leary of the Loose AntiOpencast Network stated this site has DISASTER written all over it and contributes to the #WelshMineRestorationCrisis seen in Margam, Parc Slip and East pit in the Neath/Port Talbot county where the Serious Fraud Office investigated the actions of Celtic Energy.
The SFO ended up with a legal bill of £6Million!


I state again, All of the above information is in the Public Domain.
Why have our leaders and local media sources failed to properly INFORM the Council Tax Payers of Merthyr Tydfil county borough and Caerphilly county borough?
Why has this new opencast gone to a UK Government appeal?
Why has Carl Sargeant AM Welsh Labour politician and the Minister for Natural Resources in Welsh Government remained quiet when he has been repeatedly asked to explain?


To add to the above!

The appeal process submitted to the PINS had links to an email chain which showed a PR company were pressuring two executives of Brecon Beacons National Park into REMOVING their objections to the Nant Llesg opencast mining project!

This is effectively holding a gun to the head of the neighbouring authority at Penallta Ystrad Mynach, and undermining the democratic planning decision!

Please consider copying and pasting the BELOW to Brecon Beacons National Park Facebook page. Thank You.

Brecon Beacons National Park please DO NOT CONSIDER removing your objections to the proposed Nant Llesg opencast by Miller Mining Ltd of Edinburgh and the destruction of 478HECTARES of important and ancient Upper Moorland, home to four endangered species of wax cap fungus providing the foundation blocks of the invertebrate food chain that many of the rare migrating birds and other rare fauna are dependant upon.
This would be ecocide on a HUGE scale and YOUR executives would be responsible! Help United Valleys Action Group not a PR company based in London representing a Mining company from Scotland who do not care about this important Welsh habitat!
#SaveNantLlesg Common

Here is the George Monbiot report from April 2015.
An abandoned HOLE IN THE GROUND like the ones in Margam and at Parc Slip and at East Pit in Neath / Port Talbot, are a price WE pay for limited liability companies!
Why should the people who own and run these companies be allowed to walk away with £££millions in ill-gotten profits from the mineral extraction and exploitation of Merthyr Tydfil?
While shrugging off the costs they leave behind in some of the POOREST REGIONS in Northern Europe – i.e. MERTHYR AND RHYMNEY!
Limited liability is one of our social silences: a giant gift to corporations and FAT CATS!
Who will pay the £165million (estimate last year) to restore Ffos-Y-Fran opencast in the next years to come, described to the World during the Great Britain road race (with Bradley Wiggins) as “resembling the stygian wasteland of MORDOR”.
“They scar the land and scarper!” – Ian Pritchard.


Hermes and BT Pension fund managers were Argent’s main investors, their main financial backers. And BT Pensions has DIS-invested from fossil fuels, it’s in their annual report from the AGM.

M-A’re up shit creek. And Merthyr people will be left with a massive hole to fill costing many many tens of £££Millions from their council tax and massive cuts to existing amenities which are already run on a shoe string and cut to bare bones.

When they go down, they will take Merthyr Borough down.
It’s that serious. Why would RCT combine with a county in that much trouble?

The coal they sell now is held artificially high by Aberthaw owners RWE, who will dump this as soon as Aberthaw is decommissioned in just a couple of years. But the trains are dwindling going down the valley on the Treharris line.

This will be a disaster that makes Parc Slip and Margam look like a minor incident. It’s another chapter of the awful disaster of the Welsh opencast mines remediation scandal.

There is a Welsh Assembly Government vote in May, heads MUST roll!

It doesn’t take much to find things out if you can be bothered to look, the residents of Fochriw, Pontlottyn and Rhymney have the right idea.

They fight it all the way, Merthyr didn’t need this OCS ( opencast site ) the council couldn’t afford to fight it in the courts any longer , people forget to ask WHY was it called-in by the Welsh Assembly, As it progressed it was the council who had to pay all the court costs, both Miller-Argent’s and its own.

Originally the only thing the people of Merthyr were going to receive was a one off payment of £1million and a swimming pool.
Well now we could still end up with a dirty stinking big pool the way its going!
The community pot was supposed to be £1 per tonne. This was virtually emptied by MTCBC raiding it so they could pay the court costs, organisations such as Tydfil Autism Support Group TASG got nothing.
Yes, some individuals have benefitted from Ffos-Y-Fran, while the majority living in its stygian shadow have suffered.

Soon we ALL could be paying for this blight on the landscape for generations to come.
It will undoubtedly cost in excess of the ludicrous £15,000,000 to restore, even were it to close tomorrow and it isn’t as easy to put it back as it is take it out!
The money and jobs promised never came to fruition
Highly paid and local labour was the promise!
Is that why I’ve seen people from Llanelli, Pontypool, Newport, DEVON, etc, etc there?
What’s the rate for machine operators?

One of the last engagements for Dai Havard MP was announcing Miller Argent were the first employer in Merthyr to guarantee a Living Wage!
Yeah, £10p.h for skilled operatives if you were lucky!


A blog by my friends in Friends Of The Earth – Merthyr Tydfil Branch