Obtaining planning permission for a surface coal mining site is a lengthy, complex procedure which can take many years to achieve.
Because of the scale of development Celtic Energy are required to make an assessment of the effects on the environment of working the site, which takes the form of an Environmental Statement to accompany the planning application.
To ensure that a there is a reliable baseline, against which we are able to measure the effects, monitoring and survey work must start at least two years before the application is made. Where necessary Celtic Energy employ expert consultants to carry out the work, for example, ecologists and landscape specialists.
Once the working proposals have been prepared Celtic Energy consult with the local planning authority, relevant statutory bodies such as the Countryside Council for Wales and the Environment Agency, and representatives of the public to seek their initial views to see whether or not the proposals need to be amended to take account of perceived difficulties.
When finalised these working proposals form part of the Environmental Statement, which also describes the effects of and mitigation for issues such as landscape & visual impact, ecology, archaeology, soil resources, noise, dust, geotechnics, water management and other issues that may be relevant to the particular site. Also included is an assessment of the health and social impacts, and information on the restoration and proposed after use of the site.
The planning application and environmental statement are then submitted to the local planning authority who then consult numerous statutory bodies, NGOs and local residents before determining whether to grant or refuse permission. This process can take up to two years, however if the decision is to refuse, Celtic Energy would normally appeal to the Welsh Assembly Government, which can add a further two years to the time scale.
As a result of this complex and time consuming process it is necessary for Celtic Energy to have in place a long term, strategic plan which can cater for these lengthy delays and to enable the Company to meet the continued demands of its customers.