FRESH hope surrounds the possibility of land reclamation at The British – after soil samples were collected there this week.

It could set the wheels in motion for a scheme which residents of the area have been eager to see come to fruition for years.

Negotiations have been ongoing between Torfaen council and the present owners of the land, HSBC, to strike a deal which will see the bank receive a return on its investment, while also fulfilling the council’s aim to see the land reclaimed.

A Torfaen Council spokesman confirmed that the Walters Group, on behalf of HSBC Bank, were on the British site on Tuesday and yesterday to take soil samples.

He explained: “The work is being undertaken to help gauge the economic viability of any potential land reclamation on the site.”

The 1,300 acre site has been derelict for decades, since mining and iron working ceased in the area, and is riddled with old workings and industrial contamination.

Previous proposals – tabled over the past 25 years – to reclaim the land, which is the size of 40 rugby pitches, have all come to nothing.

Abersychan ward councillor, Wayne Tomlinson, said: “We are just waiting to see what will comes of any negotiations between Torfaen council and the company and if there is a way forward for the development of the land so it can be reclaimed for community use.

“What form this will take and how it will be done is currently unknown, but hopefully there’s light at the end of the tunnel for a venture on the site.”

In October 2012, eighty people packed into Talywain OAP Hall to welcome ideas of regenerating former industrial land, but voted a resounding no to opencast mining.

Those proposing open-casting followed by restoration have met strong opposition.

Any scheme submitted by a developer would have to go through the planning process to get approval and currently no plans have been submitted to the council.