After the 40th anniversary of the Aberfan disaster recently passed, a new composting site could hold the key to regenerating the brownfield area around the site of the former Merthyr Vale colliery.
Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council plans to build a new school and move houses away from an area adjacent to the River Taff that is prone to severe flooding, using a major residential development to fund this.
Wildlife corridors and habitats for creatures such as otters and bats are also planned at the site where 144 people tragically lost their lives after a slag heap engulfed a school.
But while the rivers position and possible visual and environmental implications of the proposed development have led the National Assembly for Wales to call plans in for inquiry, consulting engineer Earth Science Partnership (ESP) remains confident.
ESP director doctor Stephen Rice said: Merthyr is a small authority, but food and green waste from within its boundaries and other nearby councils could be used for composting and remediating the brownfield land.
The levels also need to be raised for the houses and while fill is expensive, there is a lot of building and demolition work going on in Wales. This should make it relatively easy to get hold of secondary aggregates for the project.
Twenty tonnes of colliery waste was sorted during the 1990s, with the coal reused. But the spoil which is left could stay and form part of the platform for the houses. With household waste also being used for compost, resource efficiency could dramatically reduce the cost of the project.
Rice added: The current Lord Mayor was the last man to be brought out alive from the disaster and he is keen to see the scheme get off the ground and there is a whole social effort to lift the wealth of the area.
Such schemes can create a good market for compost and this one has a proper case history and budget. Its the kind of project that if it works, people will say do it again [in other areas].