Caerphilly County Borough Council has granted planning permission for the relocation of a screening bund at a quarry in Gelligaer, but has deferred plans for an extension to recycling facilities at the site.
School children were among around 100 protesters gathered outside the council headquarters on Wednesday, August 16, prior to the planning committee meeting.
The votes for each application were met with jeers and applause from a packed public gallery.
The Bryn Group has attracted anger from residents of Gelligaer following reports of an “unbearable” smell and dust coming from the group’s quarry and recycling plant in the village. There have also been concerns about the site’s impact on the area’s wildlife and noise from the quarry’s blasting.
The planning committee voted on two applications from the Bryn Group.
The first sought permission to retain the formation of a repositioned earth bund, landscaping and associated works, while the second sought permission for an extension to a material recycling facility to include biomass boiler and chimney flue.
The meeting heard that work on both developments had already begun, something which has also angered residents.
The application to reposition the earth bund was granted by the committee, despite a move to reject it by Cllr Andrew Whitcombe.
The committee next heard the application to retain the extension to a material recycling facility at the site, work which would include a biomass boiler and chimney flue.
Officers from the council had advised the committee to grant permission.
Prior to addressing the meeting, resident Sherry Spencer passed around photos that appeared to show issues the communities of Penybryn and Gelligaer say are caused by the Bryn Group’s operations.
Addressing the meeting, Mrs Spencer said: “If we can get sand from the Sahara, and ash from a volcano in Iceland, I am sure we will get dust from a few fields away.
“Nobody seems to care about our children. The Bryn Group are operating outside of working hours, work goes on through the night and the quarry is lit up like Blackpool.
“We [residents] have recorded over 200,000 logged calls and complaints in the last 14 years. We were all in favour of Mr Price running the farm as his family have before hin, but Bryn Group have become a blight on our lives. We cannot and will not be ignored anymore, we will take this as far as we need to. Councillors, please listen to your public.”
Councillors Ann Gair and Carmen Bezzina, who represent the St Cattwg ward, also addressed the meeting in objection to the application.
All three speakers were met with raucous applause from the gallery before Joe Ayoubkhani, of planning consultants Barton Wilmore, was jeered and booed as he addressed the meeting on behalf of the Bryn Group.
Concerns were raised by members of the committee that a liaison group between the council, Bryn Group and residents had been disbanded.
The gallery once again erupted as the members of the committee voted against the plans, with applause meeting the decision before anger greeted the announcement that it would be deferred to a later meeting.
Speaking after the meeting, resident Harriet Weyman told Caerphilly Observer: “We’re all disappointed about the bund being approved.
“I’m hoping this [the application for the material recycling facility] will be refused full stop. It will increase the traffic and work coming from the sight and it will impact on us.
“We have lost all faith in the council, we don’t want these people running our villages and we are under way in taking legal action against them. We understand it will be a long process but it is one we are willing to fight for and stand by until the very end.”
A spokeswoman for the Bryn Group said: “From the comments tonight by the abjection speakers it is clear that the work we do at Bryn is not understood and residents feel we are ignoring their concerns. This is not the case.
“Tonight made it clear that the communication the residents were receiving from that liaison group and the now Bryn Discussion Group are not accurate or effective. This needs to change.”
Work is now expected to continue on the relocation of the quarry’s screening bund, and the rejected application for the extension to a material recycling facility will be heard again at a later planning committee meeting.
It is understood that the Bryn Group have contacted residents following the planning meeting, asking whether they would be interested in a question and answer session with their representatives.
Residents have played down the suggestion however, saying they would prefer to see the reinstatement of a liaison group.