A FRESH planning application to allow opencast mining in Torfaen has been lodged, much to the chagrin of residents who have fought off the plans for more than ten years.

The proposal contains amendments from previously rejected proposals and has sparked a consultation period. A public meeting has been arranged in reaction.

Glamorgan Power Company re-submitted an application to commence mining at Varteg Hill in November 2014 – 10 years on from their first.

They now submitted an amended version of the same application to Torfaen council, including the health impact, assessment of the significance of impacts on developments of historic landscapes (ASIDOHL), a hydrology repot, legal aspects, housing issues and assurances over the restoration of the land post development concerning funding.

Residents and politicians from the borough have long fought the plans, and a public meeting is scheduled for Thursday, February 11 with Torfaen council attending.

Joint chair of 'the no campaign', Tony Kinsella, believes the latest amendment to the application has not altered greatly from its predecessors.

“My fear is that if this application is approved, it will open to the floodgates to other proposals as Varteg Hill is testing the guidelines of the Minerals Technical Advice Note (MTAN),” he said.

“The MTAN states that no settlements can exist within 500m of the proposed site, but there’s a school right in the middle of the plans – it looks like it is the same plan to me.”

The period of consultation on the development remains open until March 11, with the council welcoming comments over the proposals.

“It’s a farce if you ask me,” said Mr Kinsella.

“The coal industry is dying as there are only 10 coal-powered power stations left in the UK, and three of those are closing in April.

“Exporting coal is cheaper than taking it out of the ground here in Wales, so why they are persisting with development? I can’t understand,” he added.

Lynne Neagle, Torfaen’s AM, said: “I have been a longstanding campaigner against this development.

“This new application is almost identical to the one that was previously rejected by Torfaen Council and the Welsh Government.

“I therefore remain deeply concerned about how close the proposed development is to residents' homes and Ysgol Bryn Onnen,” she added.

Ms Neagle has raised the issue of mining at Varteg Hill at the Senedd, fronting debates on the matter and posing questions to the First Minister Carwyn Jones over the MTAN and possible reviews of its guidelines.

“I am also very worried about and the impact on surrounding communities such as Blaenavon,” added Ms Neagle.

“Torfaen Council are currently consulting on this new application and I would encourage all residents to have their say by responding to the consultation and also to attend the public meeting on Thursday February 11 at Varteg Community Hall.

“I will be ensuring that all the views raised with me by residents are fed into the consultation and will also be arranging a drop in surgery in Varteg to enable residents to discuss the application with me,” she said.

In response to the amendments, a spokesman from Torfaen council said: “We have received updated and additional information in relation to this application, which requires further consideration and consultation.”

The public meeting over the planning application for land reclamation and coal recovery at Varteg Hill starts at 6.30pm on Thursday, February 11.

Comments on the proposals from concerned individuals must be submitted to the council by Friday, March 11, quoting the application number of 14/P/00637.

Details on the planning application can be viewed at Ty Blaen Torfaen, Panteg Way, New Inn, Pontypool, NP4 0LS on weekdays from 8.30am-5pm (4.30pm Fridays).