NEW INJUNCTION BY COUNCIL TO STOP TRAVELLERS DIGGING OUT HILLSIDE

Traveller families who own a Welsh stretch of land have been served a second High Court injunction to stop them digging into a hillside directly above a row of houses amid fears it could spark an Aberfan-style landslide. 

People living below Nantyglo Rugby Club in Blaenau, Gwent, reported that a traveller group began excavating the site in April. 

But now a high court writ has ordered them to stop works, as well as banning them from staying there overnight or storing caravans there.

Villagers had feared it could cause a landslip when tonnes of earth were excavated from what was once a hill, seemingly without any safety precautions in place.

The land was recently bought by a traveller group - but no planning permission has been sought for any work on the site.

Now the owners have been served with a second High Court injunction after the first temporary legal order halted the work at Nantyglo in May.

It ordered them to stop further development of the site without planning permission and to not bring caravans to the site.

Blaenau Gwent Council said 'land development had taken place in the absence of planning permission.'

It stipulated that landowners must 'cease to occupy' the plot by 6pm yesterday, June 23, and that 'all touring caravans, trailers and all other residential paraphernalia' must be removed by 5pm today.

Any machinery and toilets must also be removed by the same deadline. 

The injunction highlighted that the landowners must 'cease to occupy, live and/or sleep or cause or permit any person to occupy, live and/or sleep in any touring caravan, mobile home or any other moveable structure on the land.'

The order will remain in place until a full court hearing.

A fundraising page purporting to be from one traveller said the work was being done as the 'council is not providing us with the right needs' adding 'we are doing our own property up which we are entitled to do.'

But local resident Yvonne Bell, 55, previously said: 'I informed the council this was happening and that I was worried it would happen during the Easter weekend while the offices were closed.

What was the Aberfan disaster? 

The Aberfan disaster, on October 21 1966, was the catastrophic collapse of a colliery spoil tip on Merthyr Mountain, directly above the Welsh village, which killed 144 people.

Mining waste from the Merthyr Vale colliery had been dumped in the tips above the settlement for more than 50 years, but after a night of particularly heavy rain the land gave way.

Tonnes of liquified debris rushed down the hillside at a reported speed of more than 80mph before smashing into the town, burying the Pantglas Junior School in slurried mining waste.

Of the dead, 116 were children who had assembled in the school just minutes before the hillside gave way, despite the frantic efforts of locals who dug with their bare hands through the rubble to rescue the youngsters.

A lengthy public inquiry placed the blame at the feet of the National Coal Board, which had previously sought to suggest the disaster could not have been predicted. 

Controversially, the Board used money from the Aberfan disaster fund to pay for clearance of remaining hillside tips in order to avoid similar disasters.

To this day, many of the survivors of the disaster suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder; the tragedy is commemorated at the Merthyr Tydfil Memorial Garden five miles away.

'We've been in touch with a number of different departments and people because we genuinely believe this work has begun without proper planning permission.

'We know this because we've been told it's not safe by the council.

'Some of the more elderly residents around here are terrified of what's happening - they don't feel able to even open their curtains at the moment.

'That's just not fair on any of us - we refuse to live in fear.'

Earlier this year the council said experts had assessed the stability of the land and found there was no immediate risk to any nearby properties. 

Another woman, named only as Anna, said she had been threatened over her views regarding the work.

She said: 'There have been no safety measures and a lot of ground has been taken away, which supports the very busy road above.

'It's a very scary time for the residents and there have been comments circulating on social media about hoping the houses have good insurance.'

A spokesperson for Blaenau Gwent Council, said: 'We have previously issued statements in relation to a piece of land in Nantylgo where land development had taken place in the absence of planning permission from Blaenau Gwent Council. 

'A Temporary Stop Notice was served to the landowners and interested parties on the April 5, 2024 using the relevant powers under the Town & County Planning Act 1990.' 

More than 1,300 people have signed a petition against the work being done on land close to Porters Road and Banna Bunglalows in the town.

Pictures show a large area of hillside has been flattened and around six caravans and a digger moved onto the site.

Land registry documents show there is covenant on the land which states the land can only be used for grazing.

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2024-06-24T10:03:36Z dg43tfdfdgfd