Parc Slip Restoration Proposals Revealed

It looks like the Parc Slip opencast saga could finally be inching towards a resolution.

In the last week, Caerphilly-based Celtic Energy – the parent company of the owners of Parc Slip opencast mine on the outskirts of Kenfig Hill, straddling the NPT-Bridgend border – submitted a scoping report for plans to restore the site : plans (pdf), report (pdf). Full plans will come later depending on whether an environmental impact assessment is required.
As I’m sure you’re all very aware, there’ve been long-running arguments over delays to restoration and concerns over shady dealings. The prospect has being raised on-off down the years that coal mining would continue, while there’ve also been offshore ownership issues and, more recently, the chance nothing would be done at all.

This current proposal is considerably more modest than previous mooted plans for a “garden village” and, dare I say it, considerably more respectful to the intelligence of local authority officers and the local community.

There’s good news and bad news.

The good news is Celtic Energy have stuck to what they’ve told both local authorities, and the restoration works (seemingly) aren’t dependent on further coal mining. That’s dead, and I seriously doubt we’ll see any other opencast mining in the area for the foreseeable future.

The bad news is that, apart from some sensitive landscaping and regrading, the site would remain largely as it currently is. The “lake” stays. However, the outline proposals say an overspill channel could be constructed to empty the lake – described as a “water body feature” in the report – into the River Kenfig when water levels gets too high. Logically, they had no other option.

This is a “do minimum”proposal that’s unlikely to cost very much given the strained finances involved. It’s something at least and is, in effect, an extension to the existing Parc Slip nature reserve – though it’ll probably take a decade or two until they’re both at the same standard.

Other outline proposals include an assessment of the stability of the void’s walls, creating water retention lakes in the eastern half of the site for nature conservation purposes (similar to the wetlands at the nature reserve), a car park/road access, and what I presume is a cycle/foot route along the former Crown Road which will link to the country lanes and farmland to the north of the site.

Once the site is restored, Celtic Energy will have to provide maintenance and aftercare services for five years, primarily to protect biodiversity.

This isn’t going to satisfy everyone, and certainly doesn’t count as a “complete restoration”. The plans aren’t final either. They’re only an outline at the moment and there could still be issues on funding for example.

If this happens, it’ll go some way towards demonstrating that Celtic Energy are serious about restoring the site in order to rebuild their damaged reputation, but it should also serve as a warning to other communities picked out for opencasting of what could happen to them.