A PETITION to keep the beleaguered Cwmcarn Forest Drive open has received more than 500 signatures in 24 hours.

The e-Petition ‘Save the Cwmcarn Forest Drive from Indefinite or Permanent Closure’ is now up on the National Assembly for Wales Petitions Committee website.

Since it was launched on Thursday, it has garnered more than 550 signatures.

Meanwhile, an online social media campaign to persuade Natural Resources Wales (NRW) not to close Gwent’s biggest attraction in order to chop down thousands of diseased trees has almost 4,000 members.

The Argus reported in May that the seven-mile drive will close in November to carry out large-scale felling of trees affected by untreatable larch disease across 400 acres.

Cwmcarn Forest is made up of 78 per cent larch trees, which will need to be replaced by other species.

Peter Cloke, from NRW said closing Forest Drive was “a very difficult” decision but was necessary to make sure work was carried out safely.

The online petition states: “We call upon the National Assembly for Wales to urge the Welsh Government to reverse the decision of Natural Resources Wales to close the Cwmcarn Forest Drive indefinitely on November 2.”

Rob Southall set up the online campaign in reaction to what he described as “the unnecessary devastation” planned by NRW in removing disease-ridden larch trees from Cwmcarn Forest Drive.

He said: “I am absolutely delighted with the response so far. People from all over South Wales and the UK are coming together to massively reject NRW’s proposed act of environmental vandalism.

“We certainly need to see the larches felled in a careful and environmentally considerate way but we do not need the playgrounds dismantled, the sculptures stored away (or destroyed), the barbecues demolished and the drive closed indefinitely – which is exactly what NRW plan to do.”

The petition can be found here.