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Tuesday, September 7, 1999 Published at 09:40 GMT 10:40 UK


UK: Wales

Inquiry over common land mine site

A unique way of life may be lost say residents

A public inquiry is opening into a row over plans to mine land in south Wales.

The consortium which leases land at Dowlais Top, near Merthyr Tydfil says it will give millions of pounds to the local authority for the right to mine the land as an opencast site.


BBC Wales's Hefina Rendle reports on the public inquiry
The consortium CLH Ltd is resisting Merthyr Council's bid for a compulsory purchase of the site.

The company wants to mine land it leases at Dowlais Top and if given the go ahead would give between £5m and £15m to the council.

But the local authority wants to buy it and let the company Celtic Energy, which owns the mining rights, extract the coal from part of the site.

Celtic Energy says the issues will be clarified at the public inquiry.

Roger Leek of CLH Ltd said: "We can't believe its gone to compulsory purchase really because there is no need for it. We have always been able to sit down and negotiate."

The company has promised to restore the area - part of which is common land.


[ image: Resident Royston Thomas fears for his way of life]
Resident Royston Thomas fears for his way of life
Royston Thomas's family has lived there for 300 years. "It's part of my culture and heritage," he said.

"I have a unique way of life living on the common and all that will be taken away from me."

Merthyr Council has refused to comment Merthyr Independent councillor Alan Baynham believes the council should reconsider its decision and look more closely at the CLH offer.

He stated he is not in favour of opencast mining, but with the plans laid down for the mining already, he hopes the public will benefit from the best deal for the site.





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