Nantyglo residents’ landslip fears as travellers excavate behind homes

Image caption,

People living nearby say work has been going on day and night since last week

  • Author, Stephen Fairclough
  • Role, BBC News

Residents have voiced concern over a potential landslip after tons of earth were removed from a hillside without apparent safety precautions in place.

People living below Nantyglo Rugby Club in Blaenau Gwent said a traveller group began excavating next to the site a week ago.

It is understood the land was recently purchased by the group, although no planning permission for a change of use had been sought.

Blaenau Gwent council said it was aware of work going on at the site and was investigating.

Image caption,

How the field look before the excavation work got under way

Some people also said they had been intimidated by those working there.

One resident, Anna – not her real name – said she had been living in fear after being threatened.

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

The owner of the site said the land would be used for grazing horses.

When asked whether there were plans to turn it into a settlement in the future, he did not deny that to be the case.

He also claimed he and others had been subjected to anti-traveller sentiment and abuse over the past week.

Image caption,

No planning permission to carry out the works has been granted

Anna said workers had been digging throughout the night, using heavy machinery and bright lights.

“It’s horrendous,” she said.

“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.”

Image caption,

Yvonne Bell said she feared digging would destabilise the land

Yvonne Bell, 55, whose house backs on to the site, said she had a number of concerns.

“The structure of the road, the buildings, the devaluation of our houses,” she said.

“I’m just devastated to see it like that.

“Every one of us on the row, we all feed the animals. I take my grandson over there to feed the horse. There would be sheep on there.

“We all look out for each other and we all love the animals in the field.”

According to Ms Bell, the land was protected by a covenant and could be used only to graze livestock.

She said the occupiers originally claimed they were digging to widen the path for horse boxes.

‘Our family needs somewhere to live’

Locals have started an online petition calling for Blaenau Gwent council to halt the work.

A counter-petition has also been created by someone claiming to be part of the traveller group, who said: “Our family and kids need somewhere to live, to raise our family.

“(The) council is not providing us with the right needs so we are doing our own property up which we are entitled to do.”

A spokesperson for Blaenau Gwent council said: “We can confirm that we have been made aware of land development on a site in Nantyglo.

“We are looking into this and all associated issues as a priority in order to determine an appropriate course of action.”


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