Godre'rgraig Primary School forced to close after experts identify landslide risk

A primary school has been forced to close suddenly after geological experts found a potential landslide risk.

Experts commissioned by Neath Port Talbot Council discovered a "medium" level risk from a quarry spoil tip close to Godre'rgraig Primary School, near Ystalyfera.

Officials said that if a stream was blocked during bad weather, rising water levels and pressures in the tip could cause material to flow downhill.

The decision to close the school immediately came following an emergency meeting of senior council officers and members.

Pupils at the school will be relocated to another site when they return in September.

In 1966, a coal tip slipped down a mountainside into the village of Aberfan, engulfing a school and a number of houses. 116 children and 28 adults were killed.

116 children and 28 adults were killed in the Aberfan disaster of 1966 Credit: PA Images

Council leader Rob Jones said the safety of children, staff and residents "must be, and has always been" the council’s priority.

He said: "I would like to emphasise that we understand the enormity of this decision, but the safety of our children, staff and residents must be, and has always been, the council’s priority.

"We have concerns about the initial findings which have identified a medium hazard risk linked to the quarry spoil above the school and although further investigative work is needed we have, as a precautionary measure, decided to close the school early ahead of the summer break.

"We will be keeping parents informed of developments and arrangements will be made to relocate all the pupils and staff onto an alternative site ready for September.

"We will work with the Governing Body, the school and the wider community to minimise the effect of this disruption."

A letter from the school's governors to parents said: "Following advice from the local authority, the chair of governors has decided that the school will close today with immediate effect and the summer holidays will be brought forward.

"The advice is based on concerns arising from a geological risk assessment and its initial findings which have identified a medium hazard risk linked to the quarry spoil above the school. Further investigative work is needed and as a precautionary measure the school will close early for the summer."

In 2017, around 20 people living nearby left their homes after a series of landslips. The council served them with notices due to landslips at the back of the houses which the council said were "a risk to life and property".

It said they contain hazards relating to structural collapse and that the sewerage system is "inadequate".

The council said shortly afterwards that at least 50 more homes in the Upper Swansea Valley could be at risk from a landslip.