Surface coal mining can provide significant social and environmental benefits and is one of the only development types that frequently creates more important habitats than it removes. It also provides opportunities for the removal of derelict and contaminated land and the beneficial change to new uses such as wildlife habitats, leisure facilities and country parks.
A surface coal mining development is a temporary land-use that typically lasts from two to ten years. Material excavated during operations, including topsoil, sub soil and soil forming material is returned to the excavation and landscaped as part of the restoration strategy. Restoration is usually progressive and in many cases, involves returning the land to agriculture or forestry with areas devoted to nature conservation. Progressive restoration minimises the total area of habitats lost at any one time by restoring habitats in worked out areas as the operations advance.
The restoration process provides exciting opportunities for the creation and management of a wide range of habitat types including grasslands, heathlands, woodlands and wetlands. Particular consideration is given to restoring an ecological continuity, through creating contiguous areas of similar habitat outside and within the site through which species movement is unimpaired. The soil resources are conserved on site to meet the specific requirements of the reinstated grasslands, broadleaf tree belts and nature conservation areas.
Rights of way which are stopped up or suspended as a result of the working sites are reinstated along their original routes, where possible, and on new alignments created in agreement with the Highway Authority. Hedgerows and ditches are reinstated to form fields, creating habitats for associated species such as dormouse, breeding birds and invertebrates. Watercourses are reinstated to form the drainage catchments for the adjoining rivers, creating habitats for freshwater fish and aquatic invertebrates.
The restoration of the site is followed by a programme of maintenance and aftercare for a minimum period of five years. Particular attention being paid to grazing control, appropriate fertiliser application, soil structure development and drainage necessary to meet the requirements of the local planning authorities.
In addition to nature conservation, surface coal mining and the restoration process also provides unique opportunities to re-sculpture the land for beneficial changes, to new uses such as leisure facilities and country parks. For example, the Garnant Park Golf Course, the Garn Lakes on the former Kays and Kears Site at Blaenavon and the Parc Slip Nature Reserve.
Also, ambitious development opportunities can be generated as in the case of the Ffos Las Racecourse near Llanelli and the Valleywood Film Studio on the former Llanilid Site at Llanharan. These opportunities also provide cost-effective methods for the removal of dereliction, deep mine coal tips and contaminated land. For example the East Merthyr Reclamation Scheme Phases One and Two.
Celtic Energy’s commitment to restoration and the community is as follows:-
- commitment to protection and enhancement of scientific and ecological value of our land;
- commitment to increasing environmental quality;
- working in partnership with local community and specialist bodies;
- consultation with conservation bodies;
- creation of recreational, agricultural, industrial or forestry land in accordance with local authority requirements;
- careful storage and utilisation of soils;
- management of restored areas for at least 5 years.