The Open Spaces Society,(1) Britain’s leading pressure-group for the protection of common land,(2) has objected to an application from Peakman Ltd to remove part of Mynydd Llanhilleth Common from the common land register. This popular common is near Abertillery in south Wales.
As part of its plan to extract aggregates from the nearby quarry Peakman wants to widen the existing Blaen y Cwm road and create parking bays. Part of the road is common land and so it intends to deregister this stretch of common and in exchange provide as common land an area of boggy, rough, forestry land to the north(3). It has already put in an application for fencing of the common(4), to which the society and many local people have objected.
The Open Spaces Society is notified of all such applications and has objected, along with many others. Walkers and horse-riders have rights of access over the common and the society considers that their enjoyment will be reduced, and that the road widening will adversely affect the landscape, encourage faster driving and put walkers and riders at risk.
Says Maggie Thomas, Torfaen local correspondent for the Open Spaces Society: ‘We strongly oppose the intended works here. This is quiet countryside and walkers and riders have the right to enjoy the whole common. In particular, the Canyons is a much-loved local spot and a green lung for those living in the nearby towns. The proposed replacement common is of no value for public enjoyment; the applicants admit that it is uneven ground with fallen trees, and it is not pleasant for walking or riding.’
1 The Open Spaces Society was founded in 1865 and is Britain’s oldest national conservation body. It campaigns to protect common land, village greens, open spaces and public paths, and people’s right to enjoy them.
2 Common land is land subject to rights of common, to graze animals or collect wood for instance, or waste land of the manor not subject to rights. The public has the right to walk on all commons, and to ride on many such as Mynydd Llanilleth.
3 Common land may be deregistered and exchanged, subject to the consent of Welsh ministers under section 16 of the Commons Act 2006.
4 Before any works can be constructed on common land the applicant must obtain the consent of the Welsh ministers under section 38 of the Commons Act 2006.
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