Reclaim the Power - End Coal Now: Last week’s direct action at Ffos-y-fran

Guest post by Al Williams, activist with the Campaign against Climate Change and Reclaim the Power

Reclaim the Power video of the action

On 30th April, on the 185th anniversary of the Merthyr Uprising, Reclaim the Power set up an Action Camp, 400m above sea level on Gelligaer Common in South Wales between the village of Fochriw and the town of Merthyr. As the camp was set up, travellers from across Wales, England and beyond helped clear up some of the fly-tipping that has blighted this stunning mountain location - something the camp organisers intend to return to and pursue further. The camp was organised on sustainable principles and powered by renewable energy and vegan food. After three days on the mountain, 300 climate activists shut down the UK’s largest opencast coal mine at Ffos-y-fran and the story resonating across the Principality, the UK and beyond.

Events in Wales kicked off the global Break Free 2016 campaign - a two week wave of escalated action to keep coal, oil and gas in the ground by challenging power with non-violent direct action. 

The Open Veins of South Wales

Blogger Dragon Trailz, also known as Al Williams, writes about the environmental threats his home country of Wales is facing from opencast coal mining. Find out more about upcoming campaign actions against coal.

I wonder how many people in South Wales are aware that there are now three open cast coal mining planning projects in progress or appeal, across an east - west line that runs from Hirwaun to Blaenavon? This is in addition to Ffos-y-Fran, near Merthyr, which has been around for almost ten years and is the largest open cast coal mine in the UK - a project that was strongly opposed by local residents from the beginning.

The planning applications (from east to west) are at Tower Colliery, Nant Llesg and Varteg - all are at sites which were previously deep mined. These projects are very unpopular - local campaign group United Valleys Action Group (UVAG) oppose the Nant Llesg extension to Ffos-y-Fran and there is also strong resistance to the Varteg project to the east - the Tower planning application is relatively new. It’s alarming that these stories often do not make the Welsh national news and awareness of them and the consequences they bring, isn’t quite what it should be. The original application for the Nant Llesg mine was defeated at the local level last year, but Miller Argent who run the Ffos-y-Fran site, launched an appeal at the beginning of 2016 and UVAG, who thought they had won their fight against the mine, began to widen their campaign and since then have increased awareness across Wales and the UK with assistance from Friends of the Earth, both in Wales and England.