Extinction Rebellion: Seven arrests after protesters gain access to Aberpergwm mine in Glynneath

Police confirmed five arrests were made several hours after protesters gained access to the site. Credit: ITV News

Seven people have been arrested after protesters gained access to the Aberpergwm mine site on Sunday afternoon.

Activists from the environmental campaign group Extinction Rebellion gained access to the Aberpergwm mine at around 4pm on Sunday (July 10).

Protesters could be seen climbing on buildings within the site and several members also chained themselves to a gate.

Although many of those in attendance had left by the evening, it is understood several chose to stay.

Protesters climbed onto buildings and machinery at the site.

A spokesperson for South Wales Police initially confirmed five people had been arrested at the side.

A statement on Monday morning read: "Officers have been present to facilitate a peaceful protest and minimise disruption to the wider community at the Aberpergwm mine site near Glynneath.

"Five people are in custody, arrested on suspicion of aggravated trespass.

"Officers continue to liaise with the small number of protestors remaining at the scene."

However, a statement at just before 11am confirmed a further two people were arrested.

A spokesperson said: "The incident has now concluded.  Two further people have been arrested on suspicion of aggravated trespass.

The Aberpergwm mine in Glynneath was granted a new license this week, giving it permission to extract another forty million tonnes of coal.

The Welsh Government has previously said the power to revoke any license is out of its hands, while the owners of the site say most of the coal will not be burned but used for water filtration and electric batteries instead.

The company says the mine is the "only source of high-grade anthracite in Western Europe." 

Also referred to as ‘hard coal', anthracite has the highest carbon content of all coal types. It has lower levels of sulphur and produces more heat and less smoke than other types of coal.

Protestors at the site say the decision to mine more coal in Wales is at odds with the Welsh Government's declared climate emergency.

The Coal Action Network, a campaigning organisation working for an end to coal use in power generation and steel production in the UK, has been granted a judicial review allowing it to test whether the Welsh Government can apply the Wales Act 2017 to the Aberpergwm coal mine expansion licence.

The judicial review will also test whether the Coal Authority can consider factors beyond the narrow criteria it claims it's limited to when deciding a licence application.

The legal challenge will be heard by a senior High Court judge in the coming months.