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Community raises landslip and ‘intimidation’ fears as ‘unauthorised site’ is cut into hillside

02 Apr 2024 6 minute read
Land below Porters Road, Nantyglo, Blaenau Gwent. Image supplied by resident.

Residents of a valleys community have raised fears of landslips and ‘intimidation’ after a traveller group began removing tonnes of earth from a hillside to create an ‘unauthorised’ settlement.

On the evening of 27 March, residents at Porters Road, Garn Road and Banna Bungalows in Nantyglo, Blaenau Gwent report witnessing heavy machinery digging away tonnes of earth from beneath Porters Road.

The sloping field to the rear of Nantyglo Rugby Club was previously used for grazing horses but has since been flattened – with no evidence of any retaining wall or safety structure in place.

“Fears of reprisals”

Representatives from Blaenau Gwent County Council have been made aware of the activities, and were initially informed that plans are to “widen a pre-existing dirt road.”

The bungalows to the front of the site are mostly occupied by pensioners – with one of them reporting fears of reprisals if they complain, and another afraid to open their curtains.

According to one resident, the field was sold last year and has covenants for grazing only, and has no planning permission.

Video: Jamie Jenkins, Valley Views

He told us, anonymously: “An elderly person from another street was called racist for objecting to the digging which has created a sheer dirt wall below the road. He was told – “get used to it, we aren’t going anywhere.”

“It’s an accident waiting to happen – photos do not do it justice, it looks apocalyptic close up. You’ve got the residents below and behind all worried about a landslip, not least of all because of the amount of rain we’ve had lately.

“They’re setting up fires, digging at night with their lights shining.”

“We all want to leave but we can’t – who would buy a house with this on the doorstep? I’ve not slept since it happened – I almost wish the road and house would fall now so at least I could get from here.”

View from Porters Road, Nantyglo, Blaenau Gwent. Image supplied by resident.

Another Nantyglo resident who lives in a nearby estate told us: “We’ve just had our Council Tax demands through the door and we have all agreed we will not be paying.

“It looks like an open cast mine – it has to be seen to be believed.

“People are petrified. It’s not fair.”

Petition

Yesterday, 1 April, a Change.org petition was set up by a concerned member of the community titled: “Halt Unauthorised Occupation of Land at Porters Road, Nantyglo.”

The petition, which had over 300 signatories at the time of writing, is also accompanied by a much more popular physical petition.

The online petition states: “As residents of Porters Road and Banna Bungalows in Nantyglo, we are deeply troubled by the unauthorised occupation of land in our community. This issue is not merely a question of legality; it directly impacts our lives, devalues our properties and infringes on our privacy. 

“The encroachment has led to a significant decrease in property values. According to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), unauthorised occupations can reduce nearby property values by up to 20%. This situation is not only financially damaging but also emotionally distressing as we feel that our right to privacy is being violated.

“We are calling for immediate action from local authorities to halt this unauthorised occupation. We believe that everyone has the right to live peacefully without fear of unlawful encroachments on their property or invasion of their privacy.

“This petition is personal because it’s about protecting what we hold dear – our homes, the value they represent and most importantly, our peace and privacy. We urge you all – residents, neighbours and concerned citizens – to join us in this fight against unlawful occupation.

“Please sign this petition today so that together we can protect the sanctity and value of homes in Porters Road, Nantyglo.”

“Sinkhole”

A post was placed on a local Facebook group on Saturday 30 March which included a photo of the site taken from the opposite side of the valley and the simple comment, “I hope the people living nearby have good insurance.”

Another commenter wrote: “There was a sinkhole just below this – the whole mountain is full of mines, what the hell are they doing?!”

Land below Porters Road, Nantyglo, Blaenau Gwent. Image supplied by resident.

The post was removed shortly after, reportedly due to threats being made to the creator of the post.

Fundraiser

Since the site was created, six caravans and one motorhome have appeared, and the site’s new residents have set up a GoFundMe page.

The GoFundMe says: “Hiya everyone, thanks for reading this. We need help to live. Our family and kids need somewhere to live to raise our family.

“Council is not providing us with the right needs so we are doing our own property up which we are entitled to do.

“We are sick of living in needs that is not being provided un(sic.) racial people around us.”

The Change.org petition can be viewed here.

A spokesperson for Blaenau Gwent Council said: “Earlier this week we issued a statement in relation to a piece of land in Nantylgo where we had been made aware that land development had taken place. At that time, we confirmed we were looking into this and all associated issues as a priority to determine an appropriate course of action.

“We can confirm that today (Friday, 5 April 2024) we have served a Temporary Stop Notice to the landowners and interested parties using the relevant powers under the Town & County Planning Act 1990. The notice will remain in force for 28 days and we are considering options for when it expires.

“We consider that there has been a breach of planning control by the unauthorised excavation of this land. This includes importation of material, creation of embankments and re-profiling of the area. The notice requires that the activity specified is stopped with immediate effect.

“We consider that the works may not been conducted in accordance with sound engineering practices including appropriate retaining works, site compaction, appropriate use of gradients to embankments and drainage to ensure the long-term stability of the site. It is for this reason that the Temporary Stop Notice has been served.

“We have also commissioned independent Geotechnical & Geoenvironmental Specialists to provide an opinion on the likely stability of the land following the works carried out. This concluded that there is no immediate risk to nearby properties or the road above as a result of the work but recommends measures are put in place to ensure longer term stability of the land.

“We will issue further updates only as necessary.”

Nantyglo Welsh Labour Councillors Peter Baldwin and Sonia Behr have also been invited to respond.


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lufccymru
lufccymru
7 days ago

They get away with so much, it’s ridiculous.

David
David
4 days ago

Wow what a mess, the only person to buy a house their now would be nuts

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