RESIDENTS from Torfaen, Blaenau Gwent, Caerphilly packed Hafodyrynys Community Centre last night to discuss the community’s next steps in the fight against quarrying at the Tirpentwys Canyon.

There was standing room only as around 120 residents from the three boroughs attended a public meeting about the campaign to save Tir Pentwys cut.

Local residents associations have come together from across the area, under the banner of the Anti-Quarry Coalition, to oppose proposals to extract stone from the area known locally as the Canyon.

Residents were given an update on the proposal which Torfaen council turned down last year and will now be going to the Planning Inspectorate on January 15, 2019 after the developer, Peakman Ltd, appealed Torfaen’s decision.

Torfaen council refused the original planning application on the grounds that the path to the quarry would zig-zag through ancient woodland. But now this means the council is unable to oppose other parts of the application, as they did not do so originally.

The Anti-Quarry Coalition is looking for a Rule Six status. This means that any person who wishes to do so may speak at an inquiry if they have notified the appropriate person of their intent.

This means that residents can all raise different concerns at the inquiry, though Torfaen council cannot officially.

The Coalition, represented by former planning officer Peter Laxton, will be presenting evidence at the inquiry, but anyone is able, and encouraged, to.

People expressed concern over an array of issues that would come with quarrying at the Canyon, including wildlife, farming, pollution, safety and even housing values.

Andrew Lewis, who chaired the meeting, stressed the importance of the impact quarrying will have on people's livelihoods. 

He believes environmental impact from hundreds of lorries passing through the area would be detrimental.

Other residents believe it should be deemed an area of outstanding natural beauty.

Leyla Kent, 36, only moved to the area four months ago but is deeply concerned about what a successful appeal will mean for the area.

She said: “My house is right on the corner of where they want to build the road down the mountain for the trucks to get up and down.

“That will completely ruin the peace and quiet that my husband and I moved here for. Right now, I have two dogs that I’m able to just let out for a run when they want. But where they run will become where 100 lorries are driving every day.”

Hwyel Clatworthy, 49, is a member of the Anti-Quarry Coalition. He said: “Nature has reclaimed and restored the trauma that was opencast in the sixties.

“We don’t want the top ripped off our beautiful mountain ever again, certainly not for 12 jobs.

“I have enjoyed the canyon all my life I want my children and all our children to be able to do the same.

“It was great to see so many like minded and passionate people at the meeting who want do save the canyons. There were people of all ages but each one with a different things they love about the canyons.”

Nick Thomas-Symonds MP for Torfaen attended the meeting and also spoke of his opposition to the quarry proposals and urged residents to contact him, and Lynne Neagle AM with their concerns.

The appearance follows the pair’s visit to the Canyon with both residents and a South Wales Argus reporter last week.

Residents may also contact the MPs and AMs for neighbouring Blaenau Gwent and Caerphilly.

Local councillors also attended, together with representatives of the Campaign for Protection of Rural Wales and the Open Spaces Society.

The meeting gave lots of ways that people can get involved to help fight the proposals including making objections and gathering evidence.

A consultation is underway to stop up and divert a bridleway through the site (BR107). Comments or objections need to be sent to by 10th August.

For more information, click here.

The Anti-Quarry Coalition plan to protest outside the Senedd on Tuesday, September 18. The meeting ended with a collection which raised just over £200 towards a bus get people there.

Torfaen, Blaenau Gwent and Caerphilly councils have all been contacted for comment.

Developers Peakman Ltd have previously been contacted by the South Wales Argus, who are still awaiting a response.