DRILLING works will be allowed on common land to allow a council to investigate the possibility of extending a cemetery in Tredegar.

A planning application lodged by Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council with The Welsh Government has been approved.

This will allow the council to undertake exploratory works on part of Bedwellty Common and find out whether the land is suitable for use as a burial ground.

As the “burial authority” for Blaenau Gwent the council is responsible for the Cefn Golau cemetery in Tredegar which is to the east of the site on Bedwellty Common that the council want to investigate.

New burials at Cefn Golau have been suspended due to “adverse ground conditions” there.

The application explains that the council has conducted “feasibility studies” on the capacity of cemeteries all around Blaenau Gwent to find out what the “potential” is in each one for expansion.

Planning inspector J.P. Tudor visited the common in February.

Mr Tudor said: “Common land is a finite resource and the Welsh Government has indicated that it should not be developed unnecessarily, access to it should not be prevented or impeded unnecessarily, and the proper management of it should be encouraged.

“The works would interfere with grazing and other rights, as the area of grassland would be fenced off to enable the ground conditions monitoring to take place over an anticipated eight-week period.

“It would also affect public access to the area.”

Mr Tudor said that Blaenau Gwent had suggested fencing the part being investigated would be needed to protect people and grazing animals from “open ground” and monitoring equipment that could cause hazards.

Mr Tudor said “However, in the context of the overall common which extends to some 1,197 acres, the proposed works would occupy only a very small portion of approximately 3.16 acres, with the remainder of the common available for grazing and the exercise of other rights, as well as for public access.

“The relevant landowner has also agreed, in principle, to the proposal.”

“On balance, I consider that the potential benefit arising from the works to inform a future decision on the possible expansion of the cemetery outweighs the minor harms that I have identified.”

Due to this Mr Tudor said that the proposal “is acceptable.”

The works will include the creation of cable percussive boreholes; machine excavated trial pits; and the installation and monitoring of gas and groundwater standpipes into boreholes and trial pits.

There will all need to be removed and restored at the end of the investigation.

If the investigation proves that expanding the cemetery is physically possible the proposal would then be the subject to a public consultation.

If people support the proposal the council has identified land that it owns that they would be willing to swap for the common land.