CAMPAIGNERS in Cwmbran are concerned that a wildlife habitat at a former school rugby field could be lost.

The former site of the Llantarnam School rugby fields has been largely untouched since 2019, and wildlife campaigners in the area say it has become home to insects, bumble bees, various butterflies and plant life, as well as hunting ground for tawny owls.

Llantarnam School closed in 2015.

But now Torfaen County Borough Council is planning on building 3G sports pitches at the site. 

South Wales Argus: Grassland habitat in LlantarnamGrassland habitat in Llantarnam

Resident Philip Davies said he was concerned about the impact of the plans.

“This is a key area for tawny owls because it is near a wooded area," he said. 

“This area is not suitable for a football pitch, the terrain has changed so much with the growth of different plants, species and animal burrows.

“You can’t just cut a section of grass, there would have to be a lot of groundwork done."

Mr Davies said he believed the plan was in conflict with the council's own declaration made in 2019 of a 'nature emergency'.

“The area is used by residents, children explore the different plants, people walk their dogs, and it is one of the few green places left in Llantarnam because of the amount of development over the last 10 years," he said.

“The area is so close to Llantarnam Community Primary School it should become a resource for the school to teach about nature and local resources.

“Children could easily do field studies if we had help by someone like the Gwent Wildlife Trust.”

Mr Davies who lives around the corner from the habitat went to the old Llantarnam school and used the rugby fields.

Organisations including Torfaen Friends of the Earth, Eco Warriors of Bran, Gwent Wildlife spotting and Blaenau Gwent/Torfaen local nature partnership all also oppose the plan. 

Torfaen Friends of the Earth said: “We are committed to supporting residents in protecting a beautiful and valuable ecological site in Llantarnam, Cwmbran for future generations.

“Local residents have set up a petition to keep the field as an open space.

“It's quite apparent why residents value this area and want to keep it safe from plans to change its environment.”

We asked Torfaen Council to respond to the concerns raised by Mr Davies and the other campaigners - this is how they responded:

A council spokesperson said: “The council continues to explore the best options for the site and particularly a 3G sports pitch to replace the loss of the school playing fields.

"The council recognises that this project has been delayed.

“However, costs have risen significantly since the school site was redeveloped and funding options are currently being revisited which we recognise is delaying the project.”