A QUARRY will be allowed to continue expanding closer to villages in Caerphilly county borough after controversial plans were given council approval.

More than 100 Gelligaer and Pen-y-Bryn residents marched on Caerphilly council offices on Wednesday to voice their anger over noise and dust coming from the site.

The Bryn group, which has operated the sandstone quarry since August 2013, had applied for retrospective planning permission to build a repositioned ‘earth bund’.

A build-up of peat had prevented the natural barrier being built in its original location, and the firm began to build the bund further north and closer to Gelligaer.

During a heated planning committee meeting, councillors heard that acceptable measures were in place to mitigate noise and dust emanating from construction of the bund fell, as well as the loss of peat.

But Councillor Andrew Whitcombe contested this and said the repositioned bund would have an “adverse effect” on Gelligaer residents, remarks met with rapturous applause from a packed public gallery.

Planning officer Ruth Amundson said the quarry would not cease operating if the Bryn group were refused retrospective permission to build the bund.

“The bund’s purpose is to help mitigate noise and dust impacts,” said Ms Amundson.

Cllr Whitcombe’s proposal to refuse the application was defeated and the officerecommendationiton to give retrospective planning permission for the repositioned bund was approved.

Another contentious application relating to the site, which was also submitted retrospectively by the Bryn group, was permission to extend an onsite recycling facility.

Work on building a biomass boiler and a 45ft chimney was completed in January 2017.

Sherry Spencer, a resident, told the committee that villagers are forced to constantly clean dust from their laundry, cars and homes.

“I’m concerned about the futures of our children, and no one seems to care,” said Ms Spencer.

“We cannot and will not be ignored anymore. We are willing to take this as far as we can. Councillors, listen to your public.”

Ms Spencer’s comments were supported by Councillors Ann Gair and Carmen Bezzina, who both represent the area.

Cllr Gair said: “Yet again we find ourselves being asked to consider an application where work has already begun.

“Residents have repeatedly raised concerns about their houses shaking after blasts on the site.

“Residents not only have to live with horrendous noise and dust pollution on a daily basis, they have very serious concerns about the health and wellbeing of their families, children and future generations of their communities.

“How much good faith will this applicant be afforded on this and other matters?”

Cllr Bezzina asked: “When is this going to stop? The only way we can achieve hope is action, and I ask this committee to act.”

An agent representing the Bryn group said: “The extension has allowed the recycling rate to be increased by five per cent and has been subject to comprehensive independent assessment work.”

Residents had raised concerns about a recent fire on the site which had led to unpleasant smells in the air.

Groans could be heard from the public gallery when the agent said it was caused by vandals.

Councillor William Gough said there was “extensive evidence” of fly-tipping and burning on-site, but committee chair Cllr Mike Adams said such problems should be accommodated by the recycling facility’s extension.

But the committee opted against their officers’ recommendation and voted to reject the application claiming the extension will impact residential amenity and the environment.

The application will now be deferred until a planning committee meeting later this year, with protestors shouting that “they would be there” as they left the chamber.