Posts Tagged ‘United Valleys Action Group’


Today myself and 9 comrades met a UN Special Rapporteur on Hazardous Substances and Waste and impacts of pollution and also a lady who is UN Special Rapporteur to the UN Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights.

It was an excellent meeting that lasted for two and a half hours and could’ve gone on longer. We really can talk for hours about our 10 year fight against Miller Argent Ffos Y Fran opencast and the proposed and failed application to remove the mountaintop and quarry Nant Llesg.

I think we overwhelmed them with information and they were very shocked.

Which is both good and bad isn’t it?

The lady who answers to the UN Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights said:

“What we are hearing from you is more like what we are familiar with in “developing countries” apart from an absence of violence against the protesters.

Says it all really doesn’t it?

#‎UntilWeWin badge 4cm.jpg

Weapons manufacturer Lockheed Martin intend to build a waste incinerator in partnership with CoGen in a heavily populated area of Cardiff. It would be the second one, joining Viridor incinerator in Llanrumney.
I’ve just dug out my questions to Wales Online’ Chris Cousens from 2010 from the group I was a co-founder of Covanta Incinerator Objection Group (which coincidentally celebrated the 5th Anniversary of WINNING against the Brig-y-cwn Monster Incinerator proposed for Fochriw, near Merthyr Tydfil, on 24th October 2011.)
Obviously these Q’s have to be re-written for this new Cardiff application, but the proposed incinerator is the same Gasification technology and the same exhaust chimneys which we showed fail to filter PM10 nano-particulates and heavy metals.
I’ve sent the questions to Friends of the Earth Cymru / Cyfeillion y Ddaear Cymru and I would like to see them receive answers to similar questions put to Lockheed Martin Energy VP Frank Armijo and CoGen Limited CEO Ian Brooking.
(From 2010)
A. How do Covanta intend to ensure that they will not breach emission limits at its proposed Brig-y-cwm plant?
B. Why should the residents believe that Covanta will run their plant
safely, when their track record with numerous plants throughout America showing Covanta have been found complacent in breaching emission levels and have endangering public health on hundreds of occasions?
I am at the most basic level of competence to be able to carry out
research and yet there is a huge amount of evidence I have found to prove this, for example; WALLINGFORD – New Jersey based Covanta Energy, owner of
the trash-to-energy plant on South Cherry Street, has been ordered to pay a $400,000 fine and upgrade one of its incinerators as terms of a settlement with the state over emissions violations in summer 2010. (…/article_a9b14a2a-af26… )
C. In Merthyr Tydfil borough, Recycling rates are running at an average of 30%, how do Covanta propose ensure that the other 70% of recyclable waste will not be incinerated, are they just relying on residents to recycle?
D. Why are Covanta proposing to build an old style “open grate
incinerator”, which goes against the Waste Hierarchy Directive,
(1) waste prevention
(2) preparing for re-use
(3)waste prevention
(4) other recovery, including energy recovery
(5) disposal – by not allowing sufficient process for recycling, which has a higher position in the Waste Hierarchy than energy recovery?
E. Why are Covanta proposing to build an old style open grate incinerator when there are better proven technologies such as established Plasma gasification plants in the UK (which the UK Government are keen to promote, National Policy Statements Debate 18 July 2011 ) which pre-recycle prior to the safer incineration process, which ensures only non-recyclable waste will be burned?
F. Do Covanta agree that Plasma Gasification Incinerators better meet the purpose of the EU’s Landfill Directive, Waste Framework Directive and the National Policy Statement? If Covanta don’t agree, why does their open grate plant better meet these Directives?
G. Is it true that Covanta are not in fact, a waste management company, but are primarily an incineration firm, as they undertake no pre-sorting or recyclings of any waste prior to its incineration?
H. Does Mr Chilton consider Open-Grate to be the “BEST AVAILABLE TECHNOLOGY”? Would he please provide evidence for this and cite references for this.
I. Does Mr Chilton and Covanta consider the lungs of American people to be different to the lungs of Welsh people, as the company pollutes American lungs regularly! Why should we believe that they won’t pollute Welsh lungs in the same way?
J. Can Mr Chilton confirm that Covanta has been approaching English county boroughs, such as the Royal borough of Windsor, for contracts to incinerate their waste?
K. How does this fit in with the Welsh Governments’ “Localism” strategy for dealing with municipal waste?
L. What other countries does Covanta intend approaching in order to ship waste to incinerate at the site? e.g. Ireland? France? further afield?
Causing a massive carbon footprint for the proposed plant.
M. Does Mr Chilton agree that we have some beautiful views of the Brecon Beacons to the North and through the Valleys to the South and West of Brig-y-Cwm as well as splendid views of the hillsides of the Eastern Rhymney valley and the mountain tops of Blaenau Gwent beyond?
How would this plant sit along side Tourism revenue?
N. If this incinerator proposal were to progress, has he considered
relocating his family to Pentwyn, or Fochriw, or Bedlinog, or Dowlais, or any other of the communities that will be within the polluting outfall of his blight incinerator plant?

Lockheed Martin Energy VP Frank Armijo and CoGen Limited CEO Ian Brooking sign a teaming agreement for waste-to-energy projects in the U.K., starting with a plant in Cardiff, Wales.
LONDON, Oct. 11, 2016 – Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) has signed a teaming agreement with CoGen Limited to develop energy-from-waste projects in the United Kingdom, starting with a new plant in Cardiff, Wales.
The Cardiff facility will convert waste into up to 15 megawatts (MW) of energy, enough to power about 15,000 homes and businesses in the local area. To generate energy, the plant will process approximately 150,000 tons of waste per year, significantly reducing the need for landfill use. Construction is expected to begin in 2018, with operations starting in 2020.
“This project will make a substantial contribution to Cardiff and will further showcase how bioenergy technologies can help reduce waste, decrease pollution and generate clean, renewable energy,” said Frank Armijo, vice president of Lockheed Martin Energy. “We’re excited to team with CoGen, and we’re looking forward to other projects where we can help businesses, manufacturers and U.K. municipal and regional governments address their critical waste and energy challenges.”
CoGen will serve as the owner and developer of the Cardiff project and Lockheed Martin will lead the engineering, procurement, manufacturing and construction of the plant. The facility will use Concord Blue’s Reformer® technology, which converts waste to energy through a process called advanced gasification. The technology can convert nearly any kind of organic waste into clean, sustainable energy.
In addition to the Wales project, Lockheed Martin and CoGen will jointly pursue other similar projects, and smaller-scale opportunities to develop energy-from-waste projects for commercial and industrial businesses throughout the U.K.
“CoGen is excited to be forming this partnership with Lockheed Martin and bringing the Concord Blue Reformer® technology to the U.K.,” said Ian Brooking, chief executive officer of CoGen Limited. “Cardiff will be the first of a pipeline of projects that over the coming decade will see local, smaller-scale generation play a bigger part in delivering the U.K.’s energy requirements.”
Based in England, CoGen is a leading advanced gasification energy-from-waste company within the U.K. The company develops, constructs, manages, owns and executes advanced gasification plants throughout the U.K., with five projects either generating energy or under construction, and six additional projects in planning.
Lockheed Martin Energy is a line of business within Lockheed Martin that delivers comprehensive solutions across the energy industry to include demand-response solutions, energy efficiency, energy storage, nuclear systems, tidal energy technologies and bioenergy generation.
For additional information, visit our website:
About Lockheed Martin

Headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs approximately 98,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services.

About CoGen
CoGen is at the forefront of the Advanced Gasification of Waste industry within the U.K. and develops, constructs, manages, owns and executes Advanced Gasification plants. Projects are selected to minimize the transportation of waste within the U.K. and to ensure local benefit is gained from community waste. For additional information, visit our website:


Ban The Burn logo

Mission accomplished, our Chairman Terry, Hilda & myself yesterday hand delivered 1,058 public objection letters along with  some separate individual letters to Hefin Jones
Planning Inspectorate team leader(photo attached) also there was Rhys Rigby (planning appeal) and Gareth Harvey (commons/right of ways) this along
with 7,855 from the online petition hosted by Friends of the Earth Cymru / Cyfeillion y Ddaear Cymru however we still could not confirm final figure, but even so 8,913 is a remarkable figure in the time we had, as Chris our Secretary said; “A magnificent effort at possibly the worse time of year and against very tight deadlines.”

This makes a job extremely well done by everybody.
We have made our mark and they certainly know we are an active community of Nant Llesg Protectors.

Please share this Objection form. We have just SIX DAYS left to save the ancient Common land from fencing off and destruction.
Twyn y Waun and the Waun Fair (credit: Peter Keohane Dic Penderyn Society – Cymdeithas Dic Penderyn)
To the north of Fochriw and above the hamlet of Pant-y-Waun, on the western side of Rhas Las pond, was situated the historic Waun Fair, or Marchard -y-Waun and constituted one of the largest and most active marketing centres in south Wales.. The location is called Twyn-y-Waun.

the westerners view is entirely blocked by massive overburden mounds of earth removed by opencast and destroying the area forever.


This photo was taken yesterday. I am looking eastward toward Rhas Las pond across the Nant Llesg Common. Ebbw Vale mountain is in the misty distance


For some time prior to A.D. 1140 there had been a market situated at Twyn y Waun and it was granted its charter in 1140 by Iestyn ap Grwgant, King of Glamorgan, and it quickly developed into a marketing hive of activity serving the three counties of Glamorganshire, Brecknockshire and Monmouthshire, within who’s borders it was situated.
Merthyr Tudful had been in discontent for a long time, particularly since the depression of 1829 with subsequent reform agitation following, not least in the early months of 1831. Merthyr Tudful was in a ferment of discontent and disturbance culminating in a great Reform Rally at Twyn y Waun on 30 May 1831.
The now famous Parliamentary Reform and Trade Union rights rally was held on the same day as the fair on 30 May 1831.
The ‘Reformists’ had left Hirwaun Common, the radicals killed a calf and dipped in its blood the white cloth of a reform flag, which they raised on a pole as possibly the first ever Red Flag of Popular Rebellion along with another banner that stated ‘Bara neu Waed’ (Bread or Blood).
The History of Class Struggle began here!
Please help us save Rhas Las pond from destruction, we have managed to get Statutory Ancient Monument Status but it faces imminent destruction – WE HAVE JUST 7 DAYS left to OBJECT.
Go to Facebook and search: STOP THE RAPE OF THE FAIR COUNTRY
Go to Facebook and search:  United Valleys Action Group

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


I have put out an “Urgent Appeal” to all that use Twitter to join a twitterstorm prior the “Iolo’s Beacons” airing on BBC 1 Wales tomorrow.

Aerial photograph of Nant Llesg


As discussed during UNITED VALLEYS ACTION GROUP EGM monday meeting;

A PR company “WYG” (offices in Newport Rd, Cardiff) hired by Miller-Argent are trying to get Brecon Beacons National Park, BBNP, to withdraw their objection to the Nant Llesg opencast at the Planning Inspectorate Wales appeal, effectively holding a gun to the CCBC planning committee who rejected Miller Argent last August.

The Ffos-y-fran coalmine

We want to start a Twitterstorm as follows before the TV programme:

@BBCWales @BBCNews @BBCOne @BreconBeaconsNP #SaveNantLlesg #IolosBeacons Don’t remove OBJECTIONS to STOPPING MASSIVE OPENCAST!

before the screening of “Iolo’s Brecon Beacons” on BBC1 Wales on Wednesday 7.30pm
you could also tweet:

@BreconBeaconsNP why considering removing objections to MASSIVE opencast 478 hectares of Nant Llesg Common? #SaveNantLlesg @UnitedValleys

Hopefully we can get many people to tweet and raise the pressure upon BBNP not to withdraw their objection.

Thank you.


nothing more to add.


We fucking did it! 😋

#UVAGWon #NantLlesg #OpencastBuried Caerphilly councillors defy threats to sue and reject plan