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Paul Humphreys

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This byway is regularly used by 4x4 vehicles as it presents a challenging drive and enjoys some

spectacular views including, (simultaneously), the Bristol Channel and the Brecon Beacons by

running along the ridge of Hirfynnydd near Glynneath. There have been frequent access problems

over the past couple of years with this route being illegally obstructed on numerous occasions.

There is a 6 month closure period in place with Neath, Port-Talbot Council planning to extend this.

It is apparent that the landowner, (Walters Mining Ltd), is antagonistic towards public use of

public rights of way over this large parcel of mountain & forestry. It is believed that the landowner

is trying to erode public access until the only vehicles that can get onto the land are those

prepared to pay to use the Walters Motorsports Complex. NPT Council appears prepared to roll-

over and allow this to happen.

There is a meeting on Tuesday 2nd Sept at the Dove Centre, Banwen, from 5:30pm until 8pm.

This meeting is to enable members of the public to have their say on planning strategy for the

Dulais & Neath Valleys over the next few years.

It would be entirely appropriate under the areas of leisure, tourism and environment to bring up the

access issues to this leg of Sarn Helen and complain about the closure period - this should be

shortened, not lengthened. If adequate maintenance work was carried out the route there would

not be any need for a 2-seasons closure. 4x4 users have volunteered to assist with maintenance

work but NPT Council insist that this cannot happen due to insurance issues, (other councils get

around this by purchasing special block insurance policies for volunteer workers, it isn't


If you try to bring up Sarn Helen at the meeting, it is entirely possible that the Chairperson may

decline to allow you to speak on the subject or even close the meeting - this type of thing has

happened at previous meetings. They have to be seen to go through the motions of having a

public consultation process but don't actually want any input from members of the public,

particularly where this sort of controversy is concerned, (so come prepared for a scrap). If the

Chair doesn't allow contributions or closes the meeting prematurely there will be grounds for a

formal complaint.

Sarn Helen is up there amongst the best 4x4 routes in the UK, it's a fabulous route for walkers

and mountain bikers. NPT should be proting this route actively and removing barriers to access,

not putting the multi-millionaire landowners interests first! As a Council it has a statutory duty to

ensure access to public rights of way.

To attend the meeting you need to register by phoning Catherine Gadd on 01639-763173. The

notice of this meeting states that you need to register by the 22nd Aug, (it was published on the

28th!) If you're told that it is too late to register, insist upon attending and complain that the public

attendance notice was printed too late.

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Guest otchie1
The notice of this meeting states that you need to register by the 22nd Aug, (it was published on the


Ahh, little administrative errors that produce untraceable barriers for objectors - a Common tactic.

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Been on Sarn Helen a couple of times and it stands out as one of the best we've done during our few trips south of the border.

At the end of the big land owners can more-or-less do as like cause they've got the money and clout so I reckon if I ever win the lottery I'll set up a trust fund to fight this kind of carp -- but we all know what the chances of that happening are so I reckon I'll just keep dreaming... :blink:

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