The main road through Penarth Marina is closed tonight because of the risk of a landslide between the roundabout at the junction of Penarth Portway and Terra Nova Way and a position just east of the Tesco superstore.
The road closure announcement issued at 15:00 hours today said “Terra Nova Way, Penarth, closed due to landslip between Marconi Avenue and Penarth Portway. Road closed for safety reasons”.
It was later established that South Wales Police had initially raised the alarm and alerted the Vale of Glamorgan Council Highways Department – which then erected road signs and diversions at both ends of the closed-off section of Terra Nova Way.
The signs were being ignored by many drivers . The road is the only way to reach some of the properties adjacent to Terra Nova Way including the “Tec Marina” offices. There was no debris to be seen at road level.
Further along the escarpment – again on Vale of Glamorgan land adjacent to Penarth Heights – scores of trees have been removed from the steep slope in the last few days and there appears to have been a landslip just below the crest of the escarpment – although whether this had occurred before or after the tree clearance is not known.
The Vale of Glamorgan Council said in January this year that “the cliff has been rated as being at significant risk of slippage since 2004. A number of measures have been taken since, such as clearing the cliff of loose material and installing netting. However, these have not prevented further landslips.”
The Council said that a report in 2011 found that uncontrolled tree growth to be one of the principle factors in causing slippages and added that “the most recent inspection, undertaken in 2014, recommended that work be undertaken to improve the stability of the slope.”
Local residents and members of the Penarth Marina Residents Association however complained vociferously about the tree-felling operation – claiming it would destabilise the ground and wreak havoc on local wildlife.
A police helicopter was seen hovering over the area earlier this afternoon and South Wales Police later confirmed it had been called in to carry out an aerial assessment of the situation .
Tonight the Penarth Marina Residents’ Association said that the Leader of the Vale of Glamorgan Council Cllr Neil Moore had admitted in writing that “the tree cutting is being funded by the developer of Penarth Heights.” .
The statement from the Penarth Marina Residents Association released tonight by its chairman Dr Martin Whitehill reads as follows:-
“The Vale of Glamorgan’s own expert surveyors rated the risk of land slip as being ‘trivial’, the lowest risk level. Regardless, the Council decided to cut down the trees in front of Penarth Heights development despite the advice and wishes of Penarth Marina residents. The Council denied any link between this action, the Council and Penarth Heights developers.
“The residents advised the Council management and the ward representatives that when they cut the trees last time, some ten years ago, there were disastrous results. In a subsequent period of heavy rain due to the lack of tree foliage coverage, plus the fact that the cut down trees were no longer sucking water out of the escarpment, the build up of excess water within the escarpment caused mud and land slides. There are now areas of bare rock where the soil was completely washed away so no foliage can extract the rain out of the escarpment in those parts. For this reason, the Council were implored not to repeat the mistakes. The Council refused to heed the residents’ warnings”.
“The Council’s contractor has not even finished the work this year and already the mud and land slides have started. The Vale of Glamorgan Council Leader has now admitted in response to a written request from a Conservative Assembly Member that the tree cutting is being funded by the developer of Penarth Heights.”
Tonight South Wales Police said the Highways Agency – in association with the Vale of Glamorgan Council – had has carried out an assessment on Terra Nova Way and had said it is “safe” to re-open – but will continue to monitor the position over the next few days.
UPDATE February 9th 2015:
PENARTH HEIGHTS RESIDENTS “NOT AFFECTED” BY LANDSLIDE
A spokesperson for Crest Nicholson said today : “We are aware that there has been a land slide on Vale of Glamorgan Council owned and managed land, adjacent to our Penarth Heights development. However, no properties or residents at Penarth Heights have been directly affected by this incident. Crest Nicholson would also like to clarify that no request for the removal of trees in this particular area has been made.”
The Vale of Glamorgan Council said it is “continuing to monitor a stretch of embankment near to the Penarth Heights development that saw a small landslip as a result of heavy rain on Sunday.” The council said that “After visiting the site at the request of South Wales Police, the Council’s highways team took a decision to temporarily close a section of Terra Nova Way to enable a geotechnical engineer to examine the landslide. The road has now been reopened. Further inspections will now take place to determine the cause of the landslip and whether any work can be undertaken to prevent further slips in the future.”