Posted: Fri 8th Mar 2024

Sand Martin Nesting Colony in Blaenau Gwent to be Protected as Housing Plans Approved /

THE only colony of nesting Sand Martin birds In Blaenau Gwent will be protected as plans to build houses on a former school site near Abertillery are given the go ahead.
At a meeting of Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council’s Planning committee on Thursday, March 7 councillors discussed an outline planning application to build nine houses on land known as Celtic Rose.
This was once the site of the former Ty’r Graig Junior and Infant School in Aberbeeg near Abertillery
Planning officer Helen Hinton explained that the site is above Commercial Road to the west and is set below the level of the highway and the houses of Brynawel Terrace to the east.
Ms Hinton said that alterations to the existing retaining walls, a new retaining wall on the northern side of the junction together would all form part of a future reserved matters planning application for the site.
Ms Hinton told councillors that the site had historic but expired planning permission to build 10 houses there.
She recommended that councillors approve the proposal.
Local county councillor Lee Parsons is also a former pupil of the school.
Cllr Parsons said: “This site is the only one in Blaenau Gwent for nesting Sand Martins.
“I would like to see boxes put up on the site so that they can continue nesting there.
“In 2020 when they first started nesting on the site there were three pairs.”
By 2023 Cllr Parsons said the figure had gone up to 20 pairs.
Cllr Parsons said: “They are nesting on the external wall as well.
“As a keen ornithologist this is fantastic.”
Committee chairwoman, Cllr Lisa Winnett said: “I’m sure the conditions cover bird boxes and do what Cllr Parsons is asking for.”
Ms Hinton said that this could be “secured by condition” attached to the outline planning consent.
Development and estates service manager, Steve Smith pointed out that one of the conditions refers to a an “ecology enhancement plan.”
Mr Smith said: “We can have a look at the specific wording of that to make sure that the species referred to by Cllr Parsons are covered in that plan.
“We can tweak the wording to make it more specific.”
Before going to the vote Cllr Winnett reminded that the proposal is in outline and not a “full” planning application.
Councillors went on to vote unanimously in favour of the scheme. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

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