Since 2003, the United Valleys Action Group (UVAG) have resisted opencast mining at Ffos-y-Fran, and proposals for further extraction at neighbouring Nant Llesg. Opposition has centered on the health impacts of coal dust, the visual impact of mining on the landscape, and the role of coal in aggravating climate change. In May 2016 Reclaim the Power activists held an 'End Coal Now' protest camp at the site in solidarity with local campaigners. In 2017, a UN's Special Rapporteur recommended an independent inquiry into the health impacts of the mine on the local community. The End Coal Now camp at the site of the UK’s largest opencast coalmine, Ffos-y-Fran in South Wales brought together, in 2016, hundreds of people from the UK and Europe. They converged on a moorland adjacent to Ffos-y-Fran, a massive excavation spanning 1000 acres and itself situated only a few hundred meters away from the town of Merthyr Tydfil (an industrial town in the past that by 1831 had already witnessed a general strike). . This is near the site of the Aberfan disaster of 1966,when 144 people, including 116 children, died when a mountain of mining slag collapsed onto houses and the village school. Many think that the reclamation and coal mining scheme in Ffos-y-Fran is mainly about mining and less about reclamation. It started in a storm of protest in 2007. According to the company, 1000 acres of ‘acutely derelict and dangerous’ ex-industrial land will be restored to its former condition and returned, at no cost to the public purse, to common ownership. "So far so good. But there’s a catch. Before this restoration takes place, 10 million tonnes of coal will be extracted from the ground, much of it destined for the Aberthaw power station." . Similar to the Ende Gelände movement in Germany, “the camp of May 2016 culminated with a mass protest action, an act of civil disobedience designed to generate maximum impact magnifying the ongoing struggle to transition away from fossil fuels. Over 300 protesters entered the mine to temporarily halt operations, indicating a turn away from activities within established legal and institutional structures to prefigurative actions that transgressed the political logic of the state, mobilizing collective power to interrupt the flow of energy”. The protesters traced a Red Line on the ground. The proposed open cast mine would produce about 11 million tons of coal (for the 1500 MW coal fired power plant), and demonstrators made a point that this represents over 30 million tons of carbon dioxide. The link to climate change has been very explicit in the campaign, as in some many other actions in Europe on “leaving coal in the hole”. There is solidarity with other anti-coal movements. For instance, at the camp, Rumana Hashem, founder of the Phulbari Solidarity Group and executive member of the National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Respurces, Power and Port in Bangladesh, spoke to a full tent of activists , "connecting experiences in Wales with struggles elsewhere to secure environmental justice" . ===================================== Ffos-y-Fran is in world terms a small coal mine (one million tons per year at most) but it is the biggest opencast coalmine in the UK.
A preliminary report from the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and hazardous substances (2017) says there should be an independent investigation into the potential health impacts of the Ffos-y-Fran site. This follows a long campaign by nearby residents and supporting EJOs and other organizations. Even miners (who were active in the famous coal miners’ strike in the UK in 1985) have turned against open cast mining because it provides very few jobs and pollutes the communities.
Coal dust, air pollution and noise endanger local health particularly of children and elderly people. This UN report will urge an investigation into the potential health impacts of this UK's largest opencast coalmine. The report will be delivered in September 2017 in Geneva to the Human Rights Council. “Residents living alongside Ffos-y-Fran near Merthyr Tydfil have led a long campaign, alleging that they are affected by air and noise pollution. The UN's special rapporteur on hazardous substances and wastes Baskut Tuncak met campaigners in Merthyr Tydfil as part of an official visit to the UK in January 2017. He has said that the case raised "many concerns" about the UK's approach to regulation. His role is to assess and advise governments about their efforts to protect the human rights of communities at risk of pollution, such as the rights to life, health and adequate housing. In an interview with BBC Wales, he said the plight of the community surrounding Ffos-y-Fran was "top of the list" in terms of the "many pressing issues" he had encountered. The first observation that came to mind was how incredibly close this community is to a massive open pit coalmine, Mr Tuncak said.” "I heard allegations of very high rates of childhood asthma and cancer clusters within the community. But despite those allegations I didn't hear any evidence of a strong intervention by the government to investigate or any strong reaction by the companies concerned to investigate themselves." . Work to reclaim 11 million tonnes of coal over the course of 17 years had started at the Ffos-y-Fran site in 2007, despite numerous court battles, a public inquiry, petitions and protests. The closest houses are less than 40m away from the site. Residents were told that modern mining methods would mean they would not be affected by pollution, while the operation would restore 1,000 acres of land which was once riddled with old mine shafts and was used to dump spoil. In the meantime, the Welsh Government has imposed a 500m buffer-zone between any new opencast mines in Wales and the communities around them but this doesn't apply retrospectively to Ffos-y- Fran.
There have also been further direct action non violent tactics deployed in 2017, followed by heavy fines against the activists who, in a small group, stopped transport and sabotaged installations.