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Why is Welsh Labour Obstructing the Reinstatement of the Rhigos Old Parish Road?

The old Parish Road that runs from Rhigos, Rhondda Cynon Taff, to Cwmgwrach, Neath Port Talbot, the question is why has this road not been reinstated as this was a condition of granting development consent from Rhondda Cynon Taf Development Control Committee at a meeting held on 3 October 2013.

At the time the Development Control Committee allowed development on the recommendation of MR J BAILEY of Rhondda Cynon Taf Council Planning Department:

(APPLICATIONS RECOMMENDED MR J BAILEY FOR APPROVAL) So why is Mr Bailey not getting the old Parish Road reinstated he approved the application. 

The report of Service Director of Planning, Simon Gale with a number of conditions set out below.

Condition number 9 on the approval below:

9. Six months prior to the completion of the development. or earlier permanent cessation of operations, a scheme shall be submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority for the reinstatement of the Parish Road to a condition similar to that which existed prior to the commencement of mining operations. The reinstatement works shall be carried out in accordance with the approved details, within six months of the completion of the development, or the earlier permanent cessation of coal operations.

Reason: In the interests of road safety in accordance with Policy AW5 of the Rhondda Cynon Taf Local Development Plan.

 

That condition is quite clear for the reinstatement of the Parish Road to a condition similar to that which existed prior to the commencement of mining, the Cynon Valley Member of the Senedd explanation of the reason:

I've been supporting Rhigos residents in the campaign to reopen Old Parish Road for several yrs. Unfortunately, the decision lies with Neath Port Talbot CBC as it's outside the RCT border. I've written formally to them several times & will continue to lobby on this if re-elected.

 

It’s easy for an MS to blame another labour controlled authority especially at election time but it doesn’t alter the fact that both councils are labour run not forgetting the Welsh Government, where are Jeremy Miles MS and David Rees MS another 2 Labour Members of the Senedd for the Neath Port Talbot constituency looks like they are all not really interested in doing the right thing, have they written letters without achieving anything? So easy telling the voters we are doing all we can without achieving anything? 

 

So are they all on the side of the developer as it appears so this is a common premise in Cynon Valley, below are extracts from a report submitted to Rhondda Cynon Taf Council by CELTIC ENERGY so what’s the problem and why are the relevant local authority’s dragging their feet? Again this is the reinstatement of a public highway and in RCT highways is the responsibility of Nigel Wheeler Group Director-Prosperity, Development & Frontline Services.

There have been a number of Public Rights of Ways and Bridleway affected by the development have Footpaths 17,19,25,26 Rhigos and Bridleway 10 Rhigos been reinstated? Public rights of ways and Bridleway affected would be the responsibility of Jason Bragg Public Rights of Way Officer and the Countryside Team at RCTC. There were a number of departments involved in RCTC who should have made sure the reinstatement was implemented and RCTC have a Monitoring Officer Andrew Wilkins Director of Legal Services. So the Cynon Valley MS should have involved them all and Celtic Energy the information is there for all to see, and the labour local councillor for Rhigos Graham Philip Thomas and Rhigos also has a Community Council The problem Labour Senedd Members and Labour Members of Placement have they don't like intervening with the local council's decisions or they may be deselected next. time, so they make sure they don't rock the boat.   

 

SELAR SURFACE MINE Central Extension

Environmental Statement Volume 1

Client: CELTIC ENERGY

Job no. 407.03868.00003

Document title: Environmental Statement Volume 1

Status: Final

Date: 12 July 2013

NPTCBC

The Head of Engineering and Transport (Highways) raises concern that the proposal indicates the entire removal of a section of Parish Road with no indication at this stage as to confirmed within Chapter 14.0 of the ES, a new section of highway, to temporarily replace Parish Road, will be provided as part of the development..

The land uses within the restored Selar Central area would comprise 11 hectares of open mountain grassland, and some 7 hectares of broadleaf woodland. The reinstated Parish Road would run along the nothrthern edge of the restored Selar Central area (ref plans 07A03773 and 07A03774.)

It is proposed that the section of Parish Road and Old Parish Road that has been temporarily closed will be reinstated upon completion of the restoration and aftercare works along their original alignment. Construction details will accord with relevant highway specifications or as agreed with the Highways Authority. All culverts crossing both Parish Road and Old Parish Road will be surveyed by a Qualified and Competent Structural & Drainage Engineer to assess their condition and capacity too accommodated proposed flows from restored watercourses.

14.5 Assessment of Potential Effects

14.5.1 Identification of Construction Impacts

The proposed extraction area covers a section of the current alignment of Parish Road. Therefore in order to maintain emergency vehicle access to Blaengwrach a new section of highway will be constructed to temporarily divert Parish Road around the proposed extraction area. This temporary section of road will be fully constructed prior to the removal of the section of existing road required to expand the surface mine.

It should be noted that the existing alignment of Parish Road will be reinstated to adoptable standard after the extended extraction area is restored. The reinstatement will form part of the restoration works that will encompass the entire surface mine extraction area, which will reflect the currently approved restoration scheme.

Users of the nearby public rights of way, long-distance foot and cycle routes: represented by viewpoints Photomontage VP2, VP7, VP8

As noted previously, few views are available from the public right of way network. However, the completion of the restoration would include restoration of suspended rights of way, opening up views of the restoring landscape from within.

From the occasional view such as that from Craig y Pant, the extension site would appear as a small increase in the area of bare ground in the initial phase of restoration and aftercare. As grassland was established on the existing site during the 4.5 years of extension operations, the extension site would become a narrow band within the mid-ground of the view, and within the 5-year aftercare period, would become a minor element of the view. The visual effect of the restoration on this view is assessed as moderate adverse initially becoming negligible within the short term. From restored public rights of way, the emergence of the restored landscape will be observable close-up, offering opportunities for enjoyment of the increasingly beneficial changes, as well as restoring the enjoyment of the access to the area of the site and the views available from it over the surrounding landscape. The visual impact on the restored rights of way is assessed as moderately beneficial initially, becoming substantially beneficial in the short to medium term.

Rights of Way: Parish role in preparing the definitive map

The Open Spaces Society has been defending open spaces in England and Wales since 1865.

 

APPLICATION NO: 13/0734/15 (DB)

APPLICANT: Celtic Energy

DEVELOPMENT: Variation of condition 2 and 4 of Planning Permission Ref

09/1242/10 to continue the use of the existing access off the A4061 for a further period to 31 December 2019, (as part of an extension to the surface mine, within Neath Port Talbot CBC) and to allow the retention of the coal haulage road, post cessation of surface mineral workings, for use in association with the agricultural and other management of the land.

LOCATION: SELAR SURFACE MINE, RHIGOS, ABERDARE.

DATE REGISTERED: 19/07/2013

ELECTORAL DIVISION: Rhigos

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

 

This application was submitted at the same time as application Ref 13/0779 that was submitted to Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council by Celtic Energy Ltd to extend the area of extraction within the central part of the existing Selar Opencast site (Selar Central Extension). A report regarding application Ref 13/0779 is also presented to this Committee meeting, providing this Authority’s comments on the application to Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council.

 

APPLICATION DETAILS

This application seeks consent to vary Condition 2 and 4 of Planning Permission Ref 09/1242 to continue the use of the existing access to Selar Opencast Coal Site, for a further period until 31 December 2019.

The access onto the A4061 is the access for all heavy service, delivery and coal lorries associated with the Selar Opencast Site. Use of Parish Road, Rhigos is restricted to cars and vans only.

The current planning permission for the use of the access, ref 09/1242, was granted on 9th July 2010. Condition 2 requires the use of the access to cease by 31st December 2015, other than for operations associated with restoration works and aftercare provisions, at the opencast site. The end date is consistent with the planning permission for the coaling operation granted by Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council, which requires coaling and restoration operations to be completed by 31st December 2015.

Condition 4 requires the restoration of the coal haulage route within 6 months of the completion of the coal operation. Details of the proposed restoration of the coal haulage route following the cessation of coaling operations are proposed to still comply with the scheme submitted by Celtic Energy Ltd in a letter dated 21.05.10.

The restoration details propose the reduction in width of the route from 6m to 4m, removal of the speed control measures and the metalled surface and its replacement with an aggregate rolled finish, the removal of the acoustic fence, planting of a 350m length of hedgerow, planting of the embankments of the cutting and provision of stiles and way markers to the rights of way which cross the route. 53 The application for the central extension covering an area of 19 hectares within the current site boundary, would yield a reserve of some additional 0.8 million tonnes of coal, over an extended 2½ years operational period. This would mean that working, including backfilling and restoration of the site would continue for a further 6½ years up until 31st December 2019.

The proposed Selar Central extension would involve a further £0.5 million of additional finance to the Selar Liaison and Selar Trust funds for local community projects and facilities.

 

The coal would continue to be transported by road to the Onllwyn Washery via the A4061, A465 and the A4109. The hours for coal traffic would remain as the current permitted hours – 07:00 to 17:00 Monday to Friday and 07:00 to 13:00 on Saturdays.

The application has been submitted with an Environmental Statement and a Community Engagement Statement. A copy of these documents are available for inspection on the application file.

 

SITE APPRAISAL

The access road for coal haulage purposes is a purpose built road, surfaced with tarmac with associated drainage and fencing. It lies within Rhondda Cynon Taf

County Borough and is approximately 3,20m in length, traversing from the site in an easterly direction over the former Flyndaff Opencast Coal Site onto the A4061 Treherbert Road. It enters the A4061 via a priority crossroads junction, at approximately 763 metres southwest of the Hirwaun Industrial Estate roundabout.

The route comes within 600m of the most southerly residential properties of Rhigos and Cwm Hunt. This access road is affected by many public rights of way known as Footpaths 17,19,25,26 Rhigos and Bridleway 10 Rhigos. Some of these have been temporarily stopped up or diverted for the duration of the coaling operations and are to be reinstated after operations have ceased.

 

The Parish Road, Rhigos is restricted to cars and vans only using the Selar site.

The original Selar site covers an area of approximately 330 hectares and lies to the east of Blaengwarch in the Vale of Neath. The nearest part of the main opencast site has been utilised for the deposit of the overburden mound, which is approximately 1.2km distance from the nearest properties in Cwm Hunt. The proposed central extension to the main excavation area lies to the west of the overburden mound, and would be over 1 km distance from properties in Cwm Hunt.

 

PLANNING HISTORY

Development Control Committee Agenda - 3 October 2013 81 54

 

The Selar site lies within the County Borough of Neath Port Talbot, although the access road for coal haulage purposes and the Parish Road, Rhigos lies within Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough. The following applications have been considered by this Council or by the former Mid Glamorgan County Council.

 

09/1295

Selar Opencast Site Rhigos Aberdare

Proposed northern extension to Selar Opencast Coal Site

 

Raise no Objection 15/07/10

 

09/1242

Selar Opencast Site Rhigos Aberdare

Variation of Condition 2 of planning permission ref. 05/2174 to continue the use of the existing access to Selar

Opencast Site, off the A4061 for a further period to 31.12.15.

 

Granted 09/07/10

 

06/2401 Selar

Opencast Site Rhigos, Nr Glynneath

Extension of time for the completion of opencast coaling and ancillary operations. (Observations requested by Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council)

 

Raise no Objection

16/03/07

 

05/2266

Selar Opencast Site

Rhigos, Nr Glynneath

 

Extension of time for the completion of opencast coaling and ancillary operations (with the exception of the proposed restoration and aftercare works) until 31st December 2010

(Amendment to condition 3 of planning permission 93/0348/05) Observations requested by Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council

 

Raise no Objection 12/06/06

 

05/2174

Selar Opencast Site, Rhigos, Nr. Glynneath.

 

Extension of time for the continuation of opencast coaling and ancillary operations (with the exception of the provision of restoration and aftercare works) until 31st December 2010 (Amendment to condition 3 of planning permission ref : 51/93/0266

 

Granted

12/06/06

 

99/4271

Selar O.C.C.S Glynneath Neath.

 

Aftercare scheme under condition 46

of consent 2/3/94/0348.

 

Raise no Objection 06/08/99

98/4153

Selar O.C.C.S., Glynneath,

 

Detailed scheme in relation to the overburden mound under Condition 29

Raise no Objection

 

Page 55 of Development Control Committee Agenda - 3 October 2013 82

 

Neath    of planning permission 2/3/93/0348           15/05/98

 

97/4062

Selar O.C.C.S., Glynneath, Neath

 

Gate and barrier at Parish Road Raise no Objection 26/09/98

 

93/0266

Proposed Selar Opencast Site, S/w of Rhigos, Aberdare

 

Mining of coal by opencast methods Granted with Conditions 06/12/94

 

PUBLICITY

The application has been publicised by means of site notices and neighbourhood notification. No responses have been received as a result of this publicity.

 

CONSULTATION

Transportation Section - no highway objection subject to a condition to restrict haulage vehicles via the A4061 and A465(T) only.

Public Health and Protection Division – raises no objections.

Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council - raises no objection subject to the following matters:-

 

• a positive outcome of the Planning Application for additional coaling at Selar Central

 

• the partial restoration of the access road in width and its surface modified to a stone rather than a tarmacadam surface

 

• a suitable restoration bond is provided by the developer for such restoration work.

Rhigos Community Council – raise no objections.

 

POLICY CONTEXT

Rhondda Cynon Taf Local Development Plan

The Proposals Map shows that the Parish Road and the coal haulage road are located within the area of primary and secondary coal resources, and the Parish

Road and part of the coal haulage road are included within a proposed Site of Nature Conservation Interest.

Policy CS1 states that the Council will seek to protect resources and contribute to the regional and national demand for a continuous supply of minerals, without

 

Page 56 Development Control Committee Agenda - 3 October 2013 83

 

compromising environmental and social issues, by a number of measures including ensuring that the impacts upon residential and sensitive land uses from mineral operations and the transportation of minerals are limited to an acceptable proven safe limit.

 

Policy AW5 supports development proposals where amenity and accessibility criteria are met.

 

Policy AW8 only permits development where the natural environment is preserved and enhanced.

 

Policy AW10 does not permit development proposals where they would cause or result in a risk of unacceptable harm to health and/or local amenity.

 

Policy AW14 states that where possible mineral resources shall be safeguarded from any development, which would sterilise them or hinder their extraction. The Proposals Map shows that the resources of coal will be safeguarded from development. National Guidance Mineral Planning Policy Wales

Paragraph 61 advises that Government's policy is to ensure a secure, diverse and sustainable supply of energy at competitive prices.

Paragraph 62 requires proposals for opencast development to meet the following requirements otherwise they should not be approved:-

 

• the proposal should be environmentally acceptable or can be made so by planning conditions or obligations, and there must be no lasting environmental damage;

 

• if this cannot be achieved it should provide local or community benefits which

clearly outweigh the disc-benefits to justify the grant of planning permission.

 

• Land will be restored to a high standard and to a beneficial and suitable after use.

 

Ministerial Interim Minerals Planning Policy Statement (MIMPPS) 01/2009

Health Impact Assessment for Opencast Coal Sites

Para 63 advises that it is the policy of the Welsh Assembly Government that a Health Impact Assessment should be provided to accompany any application for opencast coal working.

 

Page 57 Development Control Committee Agenda - 3 October 2013 84

 

Minerals Planning Guidance (MPG) 2 Applications, Permissions and Conditions

This guidance covers planning applications for minerals development, planning permissions and the imposition of planning conditions.

Minerals Planning Policy (Wales) Minerals Technical Advice (Wales) 2: Coal

This Mineral Technical Advice Note (MTAN) sets out detailed advice on the mechanisms for delivering the policy for coal extraction and contains advice on best practice.

Para 14 states that where UK coal is available and the generators continue to use it, UK coal contributes to energy diversity and supply, but there are important environmental and amenity issues that require very careful consideration.

Para 52 advises that whilst extensions to existing mineral workings are often more generally acceptable than new Greenfield sites this needs to be balanced with the policy on buffer zones and take into account issues of cumulative and in combination effects.

Para 53 advises that for surface coal workings, an extension beyond the original site boundary, the economic preference for extensions should be very carefully weighed against the social and environmental costs. The operator is encouraged to demonstrate that this does not delay progressive reclamation of the principal part of the existing site.

Appendices B to R provide best practice on a whole range of matters including landscape and visual impact assessment, transport, and reclamation.

 

PLANNING CONSIDERATIONS

 

The main considerations in assessing this application are whether there have been any material change in circumstances since the previous planning permission was granted, (Ref 09/1242), to withhold renewing the consent and whether the conditions attached to the permission are still relevant, or need to be updated or amended.

The coal haulage route via the A4061 and the A465(T) and onto the Onllwyn

Distribution Centre remains the same. The Environmental Statement (ES) accompanying the application states that the proposed central extension would be likely to result in the same level of output of approximately 250,000 tonnes per year for the proposed 2½ year period. This would represent an average number of 77 lorry movements per day, to and from the site, and an average of 15 two way vehicle movements per hour. The ES has examined personal injury accident data over the most recent five-year period and has concluded that there have been no accidents attributable to HGV movements associated with the site and the Onllwyn Washery.

The ES concludes that there is no reason to withhold consent for the extended use

Page 58 Development Control Committee Agenda - 3 October 2013 85

 

of the access as it would have no noticeable difference on the local highway network.

On the basis of the proposed same level of output rates, the Transportation Section has raised no objection to the proposals subject to a condition securing the use of the existing access. However a legally binding agreement is requested in order to secure an assessment of the damage caused by the hgv traffic associated with the development and the payment of compensation if appropriate, where the HGV traffic would exceed 50% of the total HGV traffic on the A4061 between the site and the A465 (T). However, the ES states that the HGV traffic associated with the development amounts to only 35% of the overall HGV traffic on the adjacent roads.

 

It is therefore considered that in these circumstances such an agreement is not necessary. It is therefore considered that the proposed extension of time is acceptable in terms of highway safety.

In terms of the potential effects on the local residents of Rhigos and Cwm Hunt, the mineral operations and the coal haulage route would be subject to the same working practices and environmental safeguards to reduce the effects of noise, dust and vibration to acceptable levels as the existing development. The operational hours for the movement of coal between the site and the Onllywn Washery would remain as the existing hours of 0700-1700 Monday to Friday and 0700-1300 Saturday. On this basis the Public Health and Protection Division has raised no objection to the proposed development. There have been a few complaints received from time to time concerning the noise and disturbance of coal hauliers entering the site before 07:00 hours. The manager of the site has advised that he has reminded all coal hauliers that they are not allowed to enter the site before 7am and that road repairs were undertaken to the haulage road in early summer 2013 in order to provide as smooth a run as possible for these vehicles. This matter will be subject to ongoing monitoring, but it is considered that the existing hours of operation are acceptable.

 

The proposed restoration details of the coal haulage route are the same as previously approved as part of the previous planning permission, Ref 09/1242. Up to this point, the road was to be removed following the completion of operations and the land restored for agricultural purposes as part of the Ffyndaff Opencast Coal Site.

However, the circumstances of the surrounding land has changed over time. The land has been farmed by Ty Draw Farm for some time and the coal haul road now forms an integral part of the daily management of the farm. It is therefore considered appropriate to retain an agricultural track in place of the current metalled road surface, so that it is suitable for its agricultural purpose and location in the open countryside. The Transportation Section raise no objections to the retention of the route to serve Ty Draw Farm. The restoration details are considered acceptable subject to minor amendments concerning the hedgerow planting mix, the deletion of the tree planting which is not considered necessary as there is adequate self seeded tree growth, and the provision of a stock proof fence to replace the existing acoustic fence. No details are provided of the re-instatement details of the Parish Road.

 

Page 59 Development Control Committee Agenda - 3 October 2013 86

 

Therefore it is considered that a condition requiring the re-instatement of the Parish Road is appropriate.

 

RECOMMENDATION: - The application be APPROVED, subject to: the conditions set out below; the provision of an appropriate financial guarantee for the restoration and re-instatement of the coal haulage road and Parish Road; and to a resolution to Approve the Selar Central Application from Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council.

 

RECOMMENDATION: Grant

 

1. Unless otherwise agreed in writing by the Local Planning Authority, the proposed development shall be carried out in accordance with the environmental controls set out in Chapters 16 of the submitted

Environmental Impact Assessment dated July 2013, or any subsequent agreed amendments.

Reason: To ensure that the use of the access is not a source of nuisance to occupants of nearby residential properties and in the interests of road safety in accordance with Policies AW5, AW10 and CS10 of the Rhondda Cynon Taf Local Development Plan.

 

2. Unless otherwise agreed in writing by the Local Planning Authority, the development, other than any outstanding restoration works and the aftercare provision required by Condition 7, shall cease by 31 December

2019.

Reason: The development is of a temporary nature

 

3. The means of access to the Selar Opencast Coal site shall be restricted as follows:

 

• the use of Parish Road, Rhigos, shall be reserved for cars and vans only, and an appropriate barrier shall be maintained across the Parish Road for the duration of the permission.

 

• all heavy service, delivery and coal lorries shall only be permitted to use the existing coal haul road onto the A4061 Rhigos Road.

Reason: To ensure no heavy coal, service, or delivery vehicles travel to and from the site via public roads in Rhigos, and in the interests of highway safety, in accordance with Policies AW5 of the Rhondda Cynon Taf Local

Development Plan.

 

4. Within six months of the completion of the development, or the earlier permanent cessation of coal operations, the coal haul road shall be reduced in width to an agricultural track together with adjacent restoration and reDevelopment

 

Page 60 Control Committee Agenda - 3 October 2013 87

 

instatement works in accordance with the submitted restoration scheme, attached to the Celtic Energy Letter dated 21.05.10. or as otherwise previously approved in writing with the Local Planning Authority, except as may be modified by conditions below.

Reason: To ensure the satisfactory restoration of the coal haul road and adjacent land in accordance with Policy CS10 of the Rhondda Cynon Taf Local Development Plan.

5. Within six months of the completion of the development, or the earlier permanent cessation of coal operations, as part of the restoration works to the coal haulage road in accordance with Condition 4 above, the removal of the acoustic fence shall be replaced with a stock proof fence as detailed in

Appendix E of the submitted restoration scheme, attached to the Celtic Energy letter dated 21.05.10.

Reason: To ensure the satisfactory restoration of the land in accordance with Policy CS10 of the Rhondda Cynon Taf Local Development Plan.

 

6. Six months prior to the completion of the development, or the earlier permanent cessation of coal operations, revised details for the planting schedule of the proposed hedgerow to be undertaken in accordance with

Condition 4 above, shall be submitted to and approved in writing with the Local Planning Authority. The planting of the hedgerow shall be carried out in the first planting and seeding season following the completion of the development or the earlier permanent cessation of coal operations, in accordance with the approved details.

Reason: To ensure that the new development will be visually attractive in the interests of amenity in accordance with Policy CS10 of the Rhondda Cynon Taf Local Development Plan.

 

7. All planting, seeding or turfing in the approved details of landscaping shall be carried out in the first planting and seeding season following the completion of the development, and any trees or plants which within a period of five years from the completion of the development die, are removed or become seriously damaged or diseased shall be replaced in the next planting season with others of similar size and species, unless the

Local Planning Authority gives written consent to any variation.

Reason: To ensure that the new development will be visually attractive in

the interests of amenity in accordance with Policy CS10 of the Rhondda

Cynon Taf Local Development Plan.

 

8. Noise monitoring shall continue to take place in the vicinity of Gernant

House, Cwm Hunt and 10, The Bryn, Rhigos, in accordance with details

 

Page 61 Development Control Committee Agenda - 3 October 2013 88

 

previously agreed for the duration of the permission.

Reason: To ensure that the noise emitted from this development is not a source of nuisance to occupants of nearby residential properties in accordance with Policies AW 5 and AW10 of the Rhondda Cynon Taf Local Development Plan.

 

9. Six months prior to the completion of the development. or earlier permanent cessation of operations, a scheme shall be submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority for the reinstatement of the Parish Road to a condition similar to that which existed prior to the commencement of mining operations. The reinstatement works shall be carried out in accordance with the approved details, within six months of the completion of the development, or the earlier permanent cessation of coal operations.

Reason: In the interests of road safety in accordance with Policy AW5 of the Rhondda Cynon Taf Local Development Plan.

 

https://www.rctcbc.gov.uk/EN/Council/CouncillorsCommitteesandMeetings/Meetings/PlanningandDevelopmentCommittee/2013/10/03/Reports/item6applicationsrecommendedforapproval.pdf