South East Wales

Tirpentwys quarry plans refused at Pontypool 'beauty spot'

Former Tirpentwys opencast coal site Image copyright Richard Eley

Plans to extract 1,000 tonnes of material a day from a "beauty spot" in Torfaen have been rejected.

Peakman Ltd wanted to remove millions of tonnes of sandstone from the former Tirpentwys opencast coal site, near Pontypool, over 19 years.

Opponents said it had been reclaimed by nature and was a picturesque walking destination.

Plans were unanimously rejected by Torfaen council's planning committee on Tuesday.

Peakman wanted to recover discarded material produced as a result of coal extraction which took place in the 1950s and ended in 1962.

Plans included an access road through woodland for up to 100 heavy good vehicles per day.

The Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales called it "ecological vandalism".

Image copyright Richard Eley

Planning officers recommended it be refused due to the "irreplaceable loss of almost three hectares of ancient woodland of high biodiversity value".

Graham Jenkins, from SLR planning consultants, representing the scheme, said this was "disappointing" given the application had been with the authority since 2003.

He said the area was identified in Torfaen's local development plan (LDP) as a preferred area for extraction of sandstone.

"It begs the question, what is the point of the allocation in the LDP?" he added.

A council officer said the preferred area only included the former opencast site, not the proposed new access road.

Mr Jenkins also said there would be a "limited effect" on ancient woodland, with trees replanted elsewhere.