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Residents have mounted a protest outside a quarry they claim is ruining their lives.
Plans by the Bryn Group to expand its quarry near Gelligaer have been met with anger because of on-going complaints over noise, dust pollution and lorry movements.
Residents have also complained about the “disgusting” smells coming from the site, which also has a recycling and farming operations.
However, the company has insisted any expansion would not involve any “additional blasts, lorry movements, noise or dust”.
Around 35 to 40 protesters gathered outside the entrance to the quarry in Gelligaer to make their feelings known.
Speaking to Caerphilly Observer, protester Mark Roberts said: “Residents in Gelligaer and Penybryn have had enough.
“We want to show our concerns and stop this application going through.
“If it does, we’ll have 20 more years of blasting. Houses in the area have been getting cracks in the walls and patios because of what’s been going on and we want to put a stop to it.
“It should not be allowed so close to the houses.
“People are sick to death. Enough is enough.”
Mr Roberts said a new protest group has been formed against the quarry and now has around 200 members on Facebook.
“The Bryn Group does not care about our villages. It’s destroyed habitats and now we’re seeing rats in our gardens and attics.”
According to the company’s website, the quarry would be extended by a maximum 131 metres at the north east and south east faces. At the closest point, the quarry would be 301 metres from housing.
The residents were joined on their protest by Caerphilly’s Labour Senedd member Hefin David and Member of Parliament Wayne David, as well as St Cattwg ward councillors Carmen Bezzina, Wynne David and Ann Gair.
‘Regulations need strengthening’
In a joint-statement, Hefin David MS, Wayne David MP and the three ward councillors voiced their support for the residents and said: “The regulations to manage the growing industrial processes at Bryn Group need strengthening.
“The Welsh Government is seeking to do that with the control of nitrates, which will give NRW more power to control manure spreading.
“Residents insisted NRW investigates plastic in the bund and this complaint was upheld. We are currently asking for further information from Renewable Energy Assurance Ltd, the scheme owner which oversees the specification and quality of compost produced at the site.”
They continued: “Finally, it is vital that further expansion of work be prevented and we oppose the upcoming planning application from Bryn Group.
“We feel that meetings involving Bryn Group should also involve the regulatory bodies and elected representatives. It would be unwise to exclude those that hold the business publicly accountable.
“The best way to do this would be through a public sector liaison committee, the like of which has already been seen in the past.”
They added: “We will continue to work with residents.”
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Bryn Group’s response
Alun Price, managing director of Bryn Group, said: “We are aware that some of our neighbours do not like living next to our farm, recycling and quarry operations and that they are seeking to reduce or stop our business activities.
“We have taken significant steps to ensure our activities take place well within the permitted and regulated levels. That does not mean we are saying there is not noise, odours and disturbances arising from our operations but those are mitigated, managed and kept under control.
“Unfortunately, some of those neighbours refuse to accept the data and research presented to them by public and environmental health professionals, and the various regulators that oversee our site, all of which shows that noise levels, air quality (dust) and vibrations are well within permitted and safe levels.
“Our quarry is a source of a scarce high specification aggregate that is used to make road surfaces save and reduce skidding. It is one of less than a dozen such sources in the UK and our aggregate is currently being used on the Heads of the Valley project and for repairs to the A470.
“The Bryn Quarry is smaller and further from housing than any other quarry in South Wales, even if the extension is permitted. We have less than 15 articulated-lorries access the site each day.
“We sound a siren before blasting, as required by health and safety regulations but we have been advised by environmental health not to make it louder as that would breach noise limits.
“The blasting, which takes place every three to five weeks, is very low level, with ground vibrations typically being less than a half the permitted level, which is itself way below the level that could cause cosmetic or structural damage. The phenomenon that causes windows to “shake” is called air overpressure or airblast, with levels typically being around the same force as a balloon popping. Our dust monitoring concurs with that of the residents – air quality is good and levels of fine breathable particles are way below the level set by the World Health Organisation.
“If the extension to the quarry is approved, the intensity of operations will not increase. This means that there will not be additional blasts, lorry movements, noise or dust. While the ‘red line’ for proposed extraction area is larger, the actually void will not increase significantly because the restoration work runs alongside the extraction timetable.”
“We have repeatedly invited community representatives and councillors to meet with us, all of which offers have been ignored. We have also asked one of the protest group leaders to join the discussion group co-ordinated by CCBC, which was again ignored. We have most recently, on advice from Senedd Member Delyth Jewell, offered to part-fund an independently-chaired meeting between ourselves and the community, which has been met with derision.
“We respect the community’s right to protest but feel dialogue would be more fruitful. Our offer remains on the table.”
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