A PUBLIC inquiry will be held into the plans to quarry stone from a beauty spot in Torfaen.

Tirpentwys Cut, a former open-cast mine near Hafodyrynys, is a popular scenic escape for people across Gwent.

Landowners Peakman Ltd first submitted plans for a quarry and access road in 2003, which were rejected by Torfaen County Borough Council’s planning committee last year over fears of “irreplaceable loss” of ancient woodland.

Now, inspector Clive Nield, who was appointed by Welsh ministers, will hold a local public inquiry at Blaenavon Workmen’s Hall on Tuesday January 15, from 10am.

Residents will be able to express their opinions on the planning application before the inspector compiles his report for Welsh Ministers.

The application involved an operation of 12 staff recovering Pennant Sandstone materials from former opencast coal waste tips.

The entire project aimed to recover 4.75 million tonnes from the site at the rate of 100 tonnes a day

This has proved controversial, with many campaigning against the plans.

‘Coalition Against The Quarry’ comprises members of community groups from Caerphilly, Torfaen and Blaenau Gwent.

They believe air pollution in the area would dangerously increase, with roads being used daily by up to 100 heavy construction vehicles if the quarry is approved.

Villagers say this traffic will worsen the already poor air quality in the area.

"Hafodyrynys is one of the most polluted areas in Wales," said Andrew Lewis, chairman of the village's community association. "To add that amount of traffic to it for the next 20 years is insane."

In September, campaigners were joined by Islwyn MP Chris Evans, Torfaen MP Nick Thomas-Symonds, and Blaenau Gwent AM Alun Davies as they protested against the proposal.

A consultation was held in October over the appeal, which attracted a number of protestors.

Dozens of people packed the committee room in the Civic Centre, Pontypool, for the consultation.

Copies of the draft application and related documents can be obtained from the Planning Inspectorate, Crown Buildings, Cathays Park, Cardiff, CF10 3NQ, or via wales@pins.gsi.gov.uk.

Alternatively, they are also on deposit at Pontypool Library, Hanbury Road, Pontypool, NP4 6JL, from December 4 until the close of the inquiry.