Appeal fails to stop Welsh mine project

A resident has lost her appeal against a large-scale opencast coal-mining operation near her home in Merthyr Tydfil.

Last week the Court of Appeal ruled that the 400ha scheme can proceed despite objections that it threatens properties at the town's edge with dust and noise.

Lawyers for Elizabeth Condron had sought to uphold a High Court judgement quashing the Welsh Assembly Government's approval (Planning, 6 January, p4). But Lords Justices Ward, Wall and Richards ruled that the High Court judge was wrong to find that the original decision was affected by apparent bias.

Condron had claimed that planning decisions committee chairman Carwyn Jones had said that he was going to back the scheme ahead of a meeting in April 2005 at which it was approved. Lord Justice Ward said that committee members would know that they should show detachment and independent judgement in making decisions.

"The fair and informed observer would not find that there was a real possibility that the chairman had predetermined the issue," he said.

Developer Miller Argent welcomed the judgement. The scheme, which has been delayed for two years, involves the extraction of 10.8 million tonnes of coal reserves and will create more than 200 jobs.

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