Understanding environmental impact is crucial to sustainability and community quality of life.

Current Campaigns

South Sebastopol

Torfaen Friends of the Earth is campaigning to reduce the environmental impact on the green fields between Sebastopol and Cwmbrân, where there is a proposed development of 1,200 houses, shops and other facilities on the green fields along the canal in Cwmbrân in the area designated as South Sebastopol. (Full details of the application for the first phase of development can be found at http://www.planapps.torfaen.gov.uk/south_sebastopol_P1/.)

Following the hearings held during the spring and early summer, The Torfaen Local Development Plan (LDP) was approved by the independent Inspector and was passed by Torfaen County Borough Council (TCBC) at its meeting in December 2013. Two questions were put to the meeting by Torfaen FOE, which were that the South Sebastopol allocation of 1200 houses would not be exceeded, which was agreed, and also requested that there be public involvement in the monitoring process of the delivery of the LDP. The latter was not accepted as the monitoring process is laid down by the Welsh Government (WG) and does not provide for such. However, during members discussion, the Chief Planning Officer agreed to a request from a member, that such an opportunity for public involvement be explored and for a report to come back to council for consideration.

The South Sebastopol Public Inquiry Inspector recommended to the Minister for Housing, that the appeal by Barratt, the developers, be upheld. A letter from Carl Sargeant, the Minister, was sent to Asbri Planning (planning consultants to the developers), with the decision, in January 2014. The conditions attached to the letter did not mention any of the suggestions for improvement of the plan put to the inspector by Torfaen Friends of the Earth's planning consultant, which was bitterly disappointing.

However, Torfaen Friends of the Earth understands that a revised outline planning application is to be submitted to TCBC by the developers, which will seek to give further protection of the canal conservation corridor, and a bus and pedestrian only access, to the proposed southern secondary access at The Lowlands.

While the battle to prevent this beautiful area of open farmland, woods and fields from development has been lost, Torfaen Friends of the Earth is determined to continue to work to seek a better plan for all concerned, and looks forward to supporting any improvements it can.

The detailed planning application for Phase 1 is likely to go to planning committee sometime after 18 August 2015, but date not known yet. The application deals with the section from the roundabout at Bevans Lane to the canal. The feeder road will come from off Bevans Lane bridge, sweeping behind Ty Brychiad and re-joining Bevans Lane at the end near to the roundabout. This will allow the rural approach of Bevans Lane to the farmhouse to remain. Torfaen FoE have submitted comments to provide a wider conservation corridor for the glow worms and suggestions to reposition car park space to prevent a break in the tree corridor. Torfaen FoE has also registered disappointment at plans to develop on a large portion of a field historically known as being of high grassland value, but which we understand has been re-classified because it is deemed to have degraded. The plans are still available to view online.

There will be four phases of development in all, with 210 houses being built in the first phase, and the whole development is likely to take about 10 years to complete.

Torfaen FoE awaits news of a date for a further meeting of the Ecological Steering Group to approve the Ecological Management Plan.

Further information on the plans and the South Sebastopol area can be found in the archived Fight the Plan Group pages. Our submissions opposing earlier applications for renewal of outline planning permission and detailed planning permission for the first phase of construction are both available. We have also made available a report on the archaeology and history of South Sebastopol by Professor David Austin, of the Archaeology Department at the University of Wales, Lampeter.

Local Development Plan

Torfaen County Borough Council adopted the Local Development Plan in December 2013. Throughout the consultation period on the LDP Torfaen Friends of the Earth objected to specific proposals - find out more by reading our submission.

A key concern about the LDP is the extent of proposed housing development. In total, sites for approximately 6,000 new dwellings have been selected - some of which are included in the current LDP - including 1,700 dwellings in Mamhilad, 1,200 in South Sebastopol, 456 at the Police College in St. Dials, 450 in Llantarnam, 250 on the County Hall/Police HQ site together with 300 dwellings and a hospital to be built in Llanfrechfa.

Further sites for residential developments in Torfaen are identified in the LDP and include The British, Pontypool College, The Tranch Animal Pound, Trevethin Comprehensive School, Canalside Cwmbrân, Hollybush School Coed Eva, Hillside School Blaenavon, Brooklands School Llantarnam, and at St Peter's School and allotments in Blaenavon.

We will scrutinise the planning permission applications for each site, and propose measures to protect the environment wherever we can.

Stop the Quarry

A planning application has been made to Torfaen County Borough Council to quarry aggregates from a canyon at Tirpentwys near the busy A472 Pontypool to Crumlin. The canyon offers a variety of habitats for wildlife, and proposed access roads would cut through ancient woodland.

More information can be found on the Stop the Quarry website