Communist Party parliamentary candidate for Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney Rob Griffiths has slammed the spread of opencast coal mining schemes across south Wales as ‘a blight on local communities and jobs’.
  He was speaking after meeting leading campaigners from the United Valleys Action Group in Pentrebach, Merthyr Tydfil, last night (Monday, April 20).
  Mr Griffiths was briefed about latest developments in the fight against plans for a new surface mine at Nant Llesg, in the upper Rhymney valley, and ongoing protests against pollution caused by the giant Ffos y Fran works above Merthyr.
  ‘Instead of a coordinated strategy to develop solar, thermal, wind and hydro-electric power in this region, based on public ownership of the whole sector, we have the dirt and chaos of opencast operations’, Mr Griffiths remarked.
  He added his voice to local residents and business owners who warn that the environmental damage drives away potential employers and jobs in the area.
  Mr Griffiths also criticised current safeguards to protect residential areas and ensure financial support for post-mining environmental restoration as ‘utterly inadequate to deal with corporate trickery and potential fraud’.
  The Communist Party candidate agreed to attend the mass protest being called by anti-opencast campaigners from across south Wales at the National Assembly at noon in Cardiff tomorrow (Wednesday April 22). The protestors will be urging support for an all-party motion due to be debated, which calls for a moratorium on new opencast developments until further environmental and financial safeguards are put in place.