City councilors of a small Welsh town on Wednesday unanimously rejected a company's bid to build a new open-pit coal mine, defying the developer's threats to sue them and attracting jubilant praise from residents and environmental organizations.
"This is a great day for democracy and people power," Friends of the Earth Cymru (Wales) director Gareth Clubb declared Wednesday.
The decision by representatives on the planning committee of Caerphilly county borough came in response to a sustained campaign from local residents who oppose Miller Argent's proposal for the Nant Llesg mine in the Rhymney valley, aimed at extracting six million tons of coal on 478 hectares of land.
The council initially opposed the mine proposal in June, but delayed the final decision until Wednesday.
Last week, Miller Argent threatened to sue the town if the bid was rejected. "We reiterate that in the event of a refusal and appeal, the substantial costs would be in no one’s interest," the company wrote to the city. "Your officers have highlighted the potential for a substantial award of costs against the council. Miller Argent would seek to recover costs from the council."
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However, the town's officials did not cave to the intimidation, and when councilors announced their vote to a packed meeting on Wednesday, the room erupted into cheers of "well done," the Caerphilly Observer reports.
Terry Evans, chair of United Valleys Action Group, told the Observer: "It’s absolutely brilliant. They didn’t bend and didn’t crack in in the face of financial pressure from that company."
"The local community have fought long and hard against this opencast coal mine proposal, and its legacy of pollution, devastation and disruption," said Craig Bennett, chief executive of Friends of the Earth.
Friends of the Earth vowed to support the city councilors in the event of a lawsuit from the company. "If Miller Argent opt to appeal, be assured we will support the community to fight this all the way," declared Clubb.