A FORMER colliery site in Abersychan is set to become Torfaen’s eighth and largest local nature reserve.

Since Blaenserchan Colliery closed in 1985, the sight of remnants of coal spoil heaps have been replaced with stretches of grassland and heathlands.

Several notable plant species have been recorded at the 86-hectare site, including the bee orchid, rough clover and moonwort, as well as 30 different types of butterfly.

The process to designate it as a Local Nature Reserve is under way and should be completed by spring 2024, Torfaen County Borough Council has said.

It will mean the area, which includes a memorial to 176 men and boys killed in the 1890 Llanerch pit disaster, will be a protected green space.

Councillor Mandy Owen, executive member for the environment, said the creation of the new reserve was “just one” of the ways the council was addressing the climate and nature emergencies.

It is hoped the designation will preserve and enhance biodiversity, remove carbon from the atmosphere and offer opportunities for community engagement.