OPPONENTS of opencast mining near Pontypool have launched an online petition.

The campaign group, the No Campaign, launched the petition after the Welsh Government-appointed inspector Clive Nield recommended the appeal by Glamorgan Power, against Torfaen council’s rejection of plans to extract 256,000 tonnes of coal from the Varteg, be allowed.

A final decision is yet to be made by Assembly Government Ministers, but campaigners want the show the Environment Minister, John Griffiths that there is strong opposition.

The online petition, launched on February 27, collected more than 200 signatures in the first 24 hours and has now exceeded 500.

Chairman of No Campaign, John Cox, also handed out 50 printed petition sheets.

The petition addresses the issue of distance between dwellings and opencast mining – and that Ysgol Bryn Onnen school is only 120 metres away from the planned site.

The petition calls on the National Assembly for Wales to urge the Welsh Government to make the MTAN Guidance Notes, notably those relating to a 500-metre buffer zone around open cast workings, mandatory in planning law for Wales.

Meanwhile, a parent of a pupil at Ysgol Bryn Onnen has written to the Children’s Commissioner for Wales seeking advice.

Nic Aldridge, from Cwmafon, whose child attends Bryn Onnen, wrote to Keith Towler on March 6.

In the letter, 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.”

The letter has the support of Bryn Onnen’s head, 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.”

The e-petition, entitled Make the MTAN law is open until midday on April 16.

It can be found at: www.assemblywales.org