A GROUP of protesters picketed the Senedd building in Cardiff Bay to voice their anger at plans to open a quarry at a much loved beauty spot that has become a haven for wildlife.

Tirpentwys Cut, a former open-cast mine near Hafodyrynys in Caerphilly County Borough, is a popular scenic escape for people from all over Gwent, and the canyon even attracts rare birds to build nests in the ancient woodland surrounding it.

But the landowner, Peakman Limited, has resurrected plans to quarry stone from the site, which could see up to 100 lorries a day descend on the area.

The plans, which are still to be approved by a public enquiry next year, have infuriated residents from all over Gwent, who put on a show of force on Tuesday on the steps of the Senedd.

Supporting the protestors was the Labour AM for Torfaen, Lynne Neagle, who braved the windy conditions to present the gathered crowd with a large postcard, which she hopes will demonstrate the beauty of the site and encourage other AMs to take an interest in the quarry plans.

“I went to the site in the summer, and it is just beautiful there,” said Ms Neagle AM.

“It would be a disservice if we let that beautiful area, which local people really value, get tarnished in any way.

“We should be protecting these areas, not destroying them.

“Today is about raising awareness. I hope that other AMs will come and find out about what’s going on.

“Ultimately the decision will be one for the Secretary of State for the Environment, it won’t be an issue the Welsh Government votes on. But I will continue the work I have already done to raise awareness and help protect beautiful areas such as this.”

Protest organiser Lyn Clarkson, 54, said she was proud of the turnout, which saw at least 40 people chanting on the steps of the Senedd.

“We’ve got numerous concerns,” she said.

“It’s a rural area the community has used for decades, not to mention the environmental concerns of around 100 HGVs thundering up and down the roads every day.

“That number doesn’t include another 40 to 50 ancillary vehicles which we can expect if this goes through. It will be a nightmare.

“It’s an incredibly beautiful place. And one of only a few areas of ancient woodlands left in the UK. It should be protected.”

Blaenau Gwent Independent councillor, Lee Parsons, explained that there were a number of rare birds who nest in the woodland near the proposed quarry.

“There are Crossbills who breed there in the winter, and Hen Harriers have been seen there too,” he explained.

“There are only a handful of breeding Hen Harriers in the whole of England, to put that into context, and we have two in the moorland near the proposed quarry.

“There are breeding Red Kites there too, and 14 different types of dragonflies have been counted.

“I think the area should be protected, and there’s even grounds to have it turned into an area of special scientific interest.”

The next step for Lyn Clarkson and other protestors will be to meet with the planning inspectorate on October 2, ahead of the decisive public inquiry on January 15.