Engineers and geologists from Earth Science Partnership (ESP) have been managing the progress of drilling work above Pantteg Chapel to allow them to update and finalise the hazard and risk assessments of the Pantteg landslide area at Ystalyfera in the Swansea Valley.
A specialist slope-climbing rig was put in place above Pantteg Chapel; the specialist equipment being needed because of the steep topography there and it is one of only a few suitable for this task in the UK because of the severity of the slope and the health and safety challenges in the location. The rig is able to adjust to the changes in the landslide topography to access the site along tracks cleared by Neath Port Talbot Council
The strata cores and results from the specialist drilling will allow review and verification of the assessments to date which have included LIDAR surveys (with drone mounted scanners), boreholes, trial pits and the creation of monitoring wells/installations.
Tree felling and other essential safety work in the landslide area is continuing to be carried out by Neath Port Talbot Council and a final assessment report from ESP will be completed towards the end of 2018/early 2019.
The wider area has been affected by ground movements and landslides since at least 1897, but it was in August 2017, after ESP warned that a series of landslips in Pantteg posed an immediate danger to life for people in Cyfyng Road, that the Council issued Emergency Prohibition Orders (EPOs) requiring a number of Cyfyng Road residents to leave on safety grounds.
Most in the privately-owned homes left, many with help from the Council, but four people from three properties appealed against the Council’s action to the independent Residential Property Tribunal (RPT) Wales.
The RPT Wales rejected these appeals; not only finding the Council had proved there was a real risk to Cyfyng Road residents from the adjacent landslides, but agreeing with the Council’s experts on the degree of risk and uncertainty. The RPT Wales commented that the expert evidence, along with that presented by NPTCBC officers, was compelling.
Subsequently, RPT Wales rejected two last minute appeals against its upholding of the Council’s action bringing the appeal process to an end. It is understood one person now continues to live in the landslide threatened homes in Cyfyng Road in contravention of the EPOs.
The Council is now progressing well with its programme of inspecting houses in areas defined as being at “high risk” and “very high risk” of landslip damage on an updated risk and hazard map of Pantteg drawn up by ESP.
The Leader of Neath Port Talbot Council, Cllr Rob Jones, said: “We will now continue to communicate with the owners and residents of homes in Pantteg to ensure the best and safest outcome and we will do our best to help if they have issues with insurance”.
“The recent work is just part of the very wide ranging and sophisticated ground analysis programme in an area which has suffered geological problems going back many decades.
“We are grateful for the community’s continued co-operation over the home inspections programme and would like that to continue while carrying on talking to residents and home owners.”