RESIDENTS of Torfaen, Caerphilly and Blaenau Gwent are outraged at barbed wire and trespassing signs that have appeared around a “breathtaking” canyon.

The Tirpentwys quarry, in Pontypool, known as the canyon, was one area damaged by wildfires, but remains a hidden gem to locals.

Residents have been told barbed wire and signs were put in place to prevent arsonists from entering the site, but argue signs were there before a fire took place.

Danny Hickman, 30, said: “I think they want to stop people getting into the canyon so they can do something with it.”

A planning application to redevelop the former opencast coal mine was refused by Torfaen County Borough Council last year - but Peakman Ltd, the developer, has appealed.

Residents say the site has been used regularly by people since mining stopped.

“It’s such a shame because I took my 12-year-old boy up back in April and I want to take other children but I can’t now because they destroyed the entrance,” Mr Hickman added.

“Dylan loved it. He thought it was special and unique,

“The landscape is like something you would see in America or Canada. It’s breathtaking.”

Councillor Giles Davies, of Abersychan, commented on planning permission: “I remember as it started to regenerate itself from an industrial wasteland to the natural nature reserve it is today.

“We have enjoyed watching the flora establish itself along with the wildlife to become an example of outstanding beauty, and personally I feel that the area needs to be protected.

“In my opinion, I believe that this area enjoyed by generations of people outweighs the promise of 12 jobs and the disruption of 100 HGV lorries.”

A spokesman for Torfaen County Borough Council confirmed the landowner closed off unofficial entrances to the site and that he believes Blaenau Gwent officers were informed it was an arson prevention measure.