Anger as Welsh Government supports continuation and expansion of quarry
Plaid Cymru has hit out at the Welsh Government after plans were approved to allow the extraction of millions of tonnes of sandstone from Craig yr Hesg Quarry in Pontypridd and to allow quarrying to continue on the site to 2028.
The Minister for Climate Change, Julie James has come under fire for supporting the successful appeal to extend quarrying at the site despite local opposition.
Heledd Fychan, MS for South Wales Central, and county councillor for RCT Council joined Dawn Wood, Rhondda Cynon Taf Councillor for Pontypridd Town Ward in arguing against the extensions during the appeal hearing earlier this year.
They support objections from over 400 local residents who feel that the quarry should close as its related traffic is impacting nearby homes and community facilities, including a local school.
Ms James supported the decision of the planning inspector who ruled to allow the application on the grounds that potential harms had to be weighed against the ‘likely national need’ for the minerals and “economic benefits” of the plans considered as a whole.
Hanson UK, which runs the quarry, had applied for an extension of the quarry in Glyncoch to Rhondda Cynon Taf Council but in February 2020 the planning committee unanimously refused the plans.
The plans involve quarrying an extra 10 million tonnes of pennant sandstone, a screening bund, and an extension of the end date for quarrying from 2022 to 2028
The planned restoration scheme and deadlines to remove all plant, machinery and residual stocks of material would also be set back from 2024 to 2030
Reacting to the outcome of the appeal, Heledd Fychan MS said: “The views and experiences of residents are real. Over a number of years, they have shared with me their concerns about cracks appearing in their homes after hearing loud blasts and feeling vibrations from the quarry.
“They have also expressed concerns about seeing large clouds of dust, with residue left on nearby cars and properties, as well as the negative impact the lorries from the quarry is having on their lives.
“Given that we are in a climate emergency, I find it astounding that a Minister for Climate Change can overturn the decision of the local Council so that minerals can be quarried for the building of roads.
“This decision clearly demonstrates a need to introduce a Clean Air Act in Wales as a matter of urgency and update our Planning Regulations to adequately reflect the climate emergency as well as the Future Generations Act.”
Councillor Dawn Wood said: “Given that in Wales, we have a Well-being for Future Generations Act which embeds public consultation as a main objective and a greener, cleaner future for all, this decision by Julie James, the Minister for Climate Change, is shocking.
“The lived experience of residents is that noise, dust and air pollution as well as the frequent blasts and quakes which leave cracks and voids under properties and constant observation for damage is affecting their mental health and physical health on a daily basis. It is wrong that they will continue to suffer because of this decision.”
Ms James said in her decision letter: “The decisions take account of the need to assist in ensuring the supply of a valuable mineral resource, which is used on road surfacing construction and maintenance in Wales and across the UK.
“The decisions would prevent an under supply of a valuable aggregate, which has a limited geographical distribution, and is important economically through its use on roads and similar surfaces in Wales and throughout the UK.”
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