Dad of Ysgol Bryn Onnen pupil highlights children’s rights in letter against Varteg mine plan
2:20pm Friday 8th March 2013 in News
A PARENT of a pupil at Ysgol Bryn Onnen has written to the Children’s Commissioner for Wales seeking advice on plans for an opencast mine 120 metres from the school.
Nic Aldridge, from Cwmafon, whose child attends Ysgol Bryn Onnen, wrote to Children’s Commissioner for Wales Keith Towler on March 6.
Mr Aldridge said plans to extract 256,000 tonnes of coal from the Varteg conflicts with the Welsh Assembly’s own guidelines that recommend a 500-metre buffer zone between opencast works and dwellings.
Concerns have been raised by the community regarding dust produced from the site and its closeness to the school.
In the letter, Mr Aldridge explains that he is writing after the minister for the environment, John Griffiths, said that he is minded to approve the plan.
Mr Aldridge said: “Surely the planning process at the Assembly has a responsibility to protect the health, wellbeing and education of the children who live in and go to school in the local area.”
He writes that in his view the impact of the development seems to be in direct conflict with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, in two respects, Article 24, every child has the right to the best possible health. Governments must provide a clean environment so that children can stay healthy. Also, Article 29, education must encourage the child’s respect for the environment.
In the letter to Mr Towler, he added: “I sincerely hope that in your role to implement the rights of the child in Wales that you will be able to offer support to the children of our community before any final decision is made.”
The letter has the support of Ysgol Bryn Onnen’s head teacher, Ryan Parry, he said: “The local authority does not have any contingency plans for Ysgol Bryn Onnen should the opencast proposal be given the green light. This could have a detrimental effect on the school in terms of pupil numbers... further exacerbated by the fact that our school is the only one that provides Welsh-medium education in the north of Torfaen..”
The Children’s Commissioner for Wales office confirmed that it had received the letter.