Ancient woodland is under threat from plans to build a giant conveyor belt as part of an extension to a quarry, it is claimed
Plans to extend Wenvoe quarry have been made
A planning application has been submitted to extend Wenvoe Quarry near Cardiff.
RMC Aggregates also wants a conveyor belt to transport rocks at the site.
It says this will have the least impact on the environment but conservationists fear it will destroy the nature in the area.
RMC say that in order to protect the woodland at Cwm Slade which backs onto the nearby village of Michaelston-le-Pit, they would build the 275 metre long conveyor belt to carry material from the proposed quarry extension to the existing processing plant.
This would prevent them having to build a new processing plant.
But Rory Francis of the Woodland Trust said that building the conveyor belt would destroy 0.19 hectares of woodland.
"Cwm Slade is recorded as ancient wood," he said.
"It is likely to have been continuously wooded for at least 400 years, and quite possibly since the last Ice Age.
"Woods like this are the richest habitat we have in terms of the number of rare and threatened species they support, from birds to bugs, fungi and wild flowers.
"They make up just about 1% of the land area of Wales, and a decision to destroy part of Coed Cwm Slade would fly in the face of the assembly's planning policy," he added.
But Richard Millard, area director for the quarry firm, said all steps had been taken to make sure that this was the most environmentally-sound proposal.
"Our organisation has looked for the least intrusive way of extending," he said.
"The application has been the subject of an environmental impact survey and having a conveyor to convey the material means that dump trucks would not have to be used, so noise will be reduced.
"Having the conveyor means that we would have to cut 21 metres into the woodland, but we would bring in specialists to ensure that the floor of the woodland would be moved to regenerate elsewhere."
Mr Millard added that if the plans to extend the quarry go ahead, 100 jobs would be secured for the next 30 years.
The route of the conveyor would go through Cwm Slade valley
But people living nearby have expressed concerns.
"This area is very beautiful and very popular with visitors," said chairman of Michaelston-le-Pit community council, Chris Warman.
"Having an extension to the quarry would spoil the area and there are a lot of concerns over what would happen to the wildlife.
"And of course there are a lot of concerns over the increased noise, dust and vibrations from people living nearby," he added.
"It is going to be a huge eyesore in an area which is extremely beautiful," said Helga Munz, whose house would be just 375 metres from the quarry extension.
A spokesman for the Vale of Glamorgan Council said no date had yet been set for planners to consider the application to extend the quarry.