Welsh Government minister visit Tylorstown Landslip works for update just one of the dangerous coal tips in and around Rhondda Cynon Taf
The First Minister of Wales has visited the Tylorstown Landslip site to see the excellent progress made since Phase Four of the remediation plan started in April. The Council has also provided a full update on the ongoing works.
Mark Drakeford MS visited the works site on the Llanwonno hillside on Thursday, June 22. He was welcomed by the Council’s Leader, Chief Executive and Director of Frontline Services, as well as representatives from the contractor, Llantrisant-based company Prichard’s Contracting.
Rhondda Cynon Taf Council have appealed the ICO decision that the council must reveal coal tip locations to the residents of RCT.
The landslip followed three storms in early 2020 – and was triggered by Storm Dennis on February 16, 2020. It blocked the river valley, broke a foul sewer, covered a strategic water main with several metres of debris, and covered a shared cycle and footpath. The Council implemented a four-phase remediation plan for the site, including emergency clearance work in the weeks following the landslip (Phase One).
Phases Two (embankment scour repairs) and Three (removal of material from the valley floor to receptor sites and reinstatement of paths) were completed in June 2021, followed by additional work in autumn 2021 to stabilise the slope. Planning permission for Phase Four (remediation of the remaining tip on the hillside) was granted in October 2022 and got underway in April 2023.
Including drainage and landscaping works.
Phase Four will consist of removing around 195,000m3 of remaining material within the Llanwonno Upper Tip – including drainage and landscaping works. The area will be re-profiled with 35,000m3 of this material used to ‘smooth out’ the landscape. The process will transport around 160,000m3 of material along the disused tramway to a receptor site, located just north of ‘Old Smokey’. Phase Four will carry out re-profiling, drainage and landscaping of the receptor site.
Mark Drakeford, First Minister of Wales, said:“ The Tylorstown landslide during Storm Dennis was significant and has required a major programme of work to repair the damage. I was pleased to see the progress made in making the site safe.
“The Welsh Government is committed to coal tip safety, working in partnership with our local authorities. We are providing £7.8m for the works at Tylorstown this year, part of a £44.4m package for a programme of works to ensure communities living in the shadow of these tips can continue to feel safe.”
Councillor Andrew Morgan OBE, Leader of Rhondda Cynon Taf Council and Cabinet Member for Infrastructure and Investment, added: “I was very pleased to join the First Minister of Wales at the Tylorstown Landslip works site on Thursday, where the progress made over the last couple of months can be easily seen. The majority of the material that needed be moved from the hillside to the receptor site has been relocated, while landscaping work continues on the mountain. This is a vast operation, and I’d like to thank contractor Prichard’s for the excellent progress to date.
“There is also significant progress and ongoing activity at the receptor site, which is located within the wider area of the Llanwonno Upper Tip. The remaining material will be moved here in the weeks ahead, while a large programme of drainage works is also being delivered. The progress made to date has put us on course to complete Phase Four on time, later this year.
“The remediation scheme at Tylorstown continues to be a priority for the Council, and we are grateful for Welsh Government’s continued funding support through its Coal Tips Safety Grant. This is separate to the significant programme of ongoing Storm Dennis works in 2023/24 for which the Welsh Government is providing a major contribution, as well as the £4.8m secured for flood alleviation work across Welsh Government’s Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management and Small Scale Works Grant programmes.
Established Rhondda Cynon Taf Tips Safety Team
“The Council has also made positive progress to recruit roles for its newly-established Rhondda Cynon Taf Tips Safety Team, which is responsible for the wider role of managing colliery and quarry spoil tips. There will be a further recruitment drive in the summer months to employ more officers to this team.
“I’m looking forward to seeing the remainder of the Phase Four works at Tylorstown progress in the weeks and months ahead. Looking beyond this, it is still the Council’s intention to utilise the site as part of a new Rhondda Fach Active Travel Route, subject to funding in a future financial year – and this will include improvement works to several structures along the proposed route.”
Progress update on Phase Four works
Following a competitive tendering exercise, Prichard’s Contracting were awarded the contract for Phase Four and started work in April. The contractor is on course for completion later in 2023 with very positive progress made to date. One of the first activities that was completed was creating a haul road, which followed prior archaeological investigations.
Excellent progress has been made on the required clearance work since Phase Four started in April – almost all material that needed to be removed from the Llanwonno Upper Tip has now been relocated to the receptor site. Two of the three attenuation basins that are being established at the receptor site, which are key features of its drainage infrastructure, are almost complete – while work to construct drainage blankets have also commenced recently.
Important ecological works have also been undertaken across the entire site, and the contractor will continue to monitor the ecology of the landscape.
Upcoming site activity includes work to form the finished levels at both the remaining tip on the hillside and the receptor site. Further drainage work will progress at the donor site – including completing the drainage blankets and installing herringbone drains, swales, and peripheral drainage repairs. Engineers are mapping the location of springs to ensure that these features are captured in the final design.
The Council is also in the process of setting up a Land Management Group to take forward its five-year plan for the site. The Group will take on board the comments made in a recent stakeholder engagement meeting, in a discussion about how best to prevent unauthorised vehicles from accessing the hillside.