How green are our valleys? Around and about the fair country

IssueJuly-August 2012
News by Kelvin Mason

‘Not again, not ever!’

In Rhymni (Rhymney), the United Valleys Action Group are bracing themselves for another environmental campaign on behalf of local communities.

UVAG who, with the support of Friends of the Earth Cymru, have just defeated plans for a ‘monster incinerator’ in the area, expect the Miller Argent consortium to apply for planning permission for an open-cast coal mine at Nant Llesg on Merthyr Common.

Nant Llesg is very close to Miller Argent’s infamous Ffos-y-Frân mine which went ahead despite much opposition, including being the site of a climate camp in 2009.
A member of UVAG said: ‘In the face of climate change, it’s astounding that we are still mining coal in Wales and planning to burn it for electricity with no realistic prospect of carbon capture and storage. It is also astounding that Nant Llesg has been mined before, just twenty years ago, inflicting dust and noise on the local population, and now it’s set to happen again.’

The impact of mining at Nant Llesg would be on a similar scale to the devastation caused by Ffos-y-Frân. Nant Llesg could yield 7 million tonnes of poor quality coal, releasing some 20 million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Moreover, up to 1,000 times that mass of overburden has to be dumped in vast mountains on an historic landscape which has known such a relatively short green peace.

While landscapes in other parts of Wales are highly valued by conservation organisations, the areas around Rhymni and Merthyr get dumped on – literally – time and time again. As one long-time resident of Rhymni replied when told of Miller Argent’s plans: ‘Not again, not ever!’

Pilgrimage against drones

On 23 June, Cymdeithas y Cymod, the Fellowship of Reconciliation in Wales, went on a pilgrimage to Aberporth airfield. There they held a service of repentance for the role Aberporth and Wales play in the development of military drones (unmanned aerial vehicles).

Pilgrims met on land that borders the testing site to remember the innocent people killed by drone strikes, and to show their shame that the’ land and air of Wales are being used to test these military robots.

During the service a petition calling for the Welsh government to withdraw its support for the drones was presented to the president of Cymdeithas y Cymod, the Reverend Guto Prys ap Gwynfor, with a request for him to deliver it to the National Assembly for Wales.

Campaigning with Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg

Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg (the Welsh Language Society) is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary with a constitutional revamp.

Bethan Williams, Chair of Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg, said: ‘Communities are going to be our priority, as we call for more power for our communities to make decisions for themselves, it makes sense for us to give more ownership to our regions for our work locally. It shows that we are taking our communities and our regions seriously. We need work in our communities to identify the real challenges and see what we can do about them.’

On 7 June Cymdeithas yr Iaith launched an historic language tour. A special ‘ambulance’ set off on the Tynged yr Iaith (Fate of the Language) tour, visiting places across north Wales before going to Powys, Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire on its way to the National Eisteddfod in the Vale of Glamorgan.

The tour also visits Pontrhydfendigaid during the special festival ‘50’ on the weekend of the 13th and 14th of July. One aim is to establish an alliance of communities which will be able to lobby for the future of the language at a local level.

Hywel Griffiths, Sustainable Communities Spokesperson for Cymdeithas yr Iaith, commented: ‘The challenge that faces us now is ensuring the language has a future as a natural medium of communication at ground level. Every community in Wales has the potential to be a Welsh-speaking community.’ 


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