Rhondda Cynon Taf council will shortly begin the significant process of moving 60,000 tonnes of spoil material following the landslip in Tylorstown during Storm Dennis – and has also outlined its future vision for the area.
Located on the Llanwonno mountainside, the site is classified as a Category D tip and was being inspected every three months against a set of monitoring criteria prior to the storm – in accordance with relevant regulations. In February 2020, Rhondda Cynon Taf was hit with three storms in a matter of weeks and Storm Dennis, a one in 200-year storm event that saw Maerdy at the top of the Rhondda Fach record the highest volume of rainfall anywhere in Wales. It triggered a significant landslip on February 16.
The landslip blocked the river valley, broke a foul sewer, covered a strategic water main with several metres of debris, and covered a footpath and cycle path. The area has remained closed to members of the public to ensure safety.
On Tuesday, June 9, the Leader of the Council, Councillor Andrew Morgan, visited the site with Council Officers and local Councillors – where the river flow is still impeded to a large degree, tree debris remains in the river and 60,000 tonnes of tip material remains located at river level.
The Council has identified a four-phase remediation plan for the area, consisting of:
- Phase One – Emergency drainage and tree felling (completed),
- Phase Two – Embankment scour repairs (to be completed in 2020),
- Phase Three – Moving of material to receptor sites and temporary reinstatement of paths (to be completed in 2020), and
- Phase Four – Remediation of the remaining tip on the hillside and undertake community enhancements such as the community route and riverside park enhancements (to be completed in 2021).
The Council has completed Phase One of the remediation plan, and will move at pace to begin Phases Two and Three by July 2020. This will enable both phases to be completed in 2020 – taking into consideration Natural Resources Wales’ restrictions relating to work within the river from the end of October. Planning permission for this work, and Phase Four, will be applied for as soon as possible.
The Council is exploring funding available and is discussing this with both Welsh Government and the UK Government for Phases Two and Three, which is expected to cost around £2.5m.
These four phases will be followed with an end use plan which – while in the very early stages of planning and to be delivered in a future financial year – is currently envisaged to be a riverside walkway with cycle provision, soft landscaping and a community area along with tree planting.
Councillor Andrew Morgan, Leader of Rhondda Cynon Taf Council, said: “Storm Dennis and other prolonged periods of rainfall brought unprecedented weather to Rhondda Cynon Taf earlier this year, affecting hundreds of homes and businesses and causing significant damage across the County. It was followed by a huge clean-up operation, with the Council now planning a number of long-term projects to repair the damage sustained to roads, structures and our landscape, as well as improving flood schemes and culverts.
“Today this announcement is intended to reassure residents that planning work has progressed on the significant remediation needed at the Tylorstown landslip – and the moving of 60,000 tonnes of spoil material will start very soon. This will make the site much safer, solve a number of problems relating to the river course, and work towards bringing the walkway and cycle path back into use.
“The Council is working closely with Welsh Government and the UK Government over the funding options to cover the costs of these phases of work, estimated to be around £2.5m – and initial discussions have been very positive in relation to this. However, in light of the nature of the works and in the interests of public safety, I can confirm today that the Council is pressing ahead and will temporarily fund this phase of work at a risk to the Authority, and I am calling on the UK Government to make good on their supportive words by now fully-funding the cost of these works, and entering into discussions on the larger Phase 4 works so they can also then proceed next year.
“Details on the end use of the area and wider ambition for the site have also been announced today, which include creating a three-metre wide Active Travel route between Maerdy and Pontygwaith, which will offer a riverside walkway with cycle provision very similar to the current riverside walk at Barry Sidings County Park, along with options for a riverside park and seating areas, landscaping and tree planting. These plans are in an early stage and will be delivered with Phase 4.
“I am keen to ensure that the Council engages with the local community as these plans develop and that we keep the community fully-informed on the progress of each step of this process.”