Bryn Group

At a meeting of Cabinet on 19 October 2022, Cabinet Members agreed to several measures to address concerns among the community around the work of Bryn Group.

In addition to re-establishing a liaison group, the first meeting of which took place in January 2023, Cabinet also agreed to set up a dedicated webpage with information on the work of the regulatory bodies responsible for various elements of the site.

This webpage has been created to ensure that data and information relating to regulatory activity at the Bryn Group site is readily available to the local community and more widely across the county borough.

Comments/Complaints and Concerns from Residents


Ongoing concern regarding dust. PM10 has been measured but not PM2.5 which is the more dangerous to health.  More residents, non smokers, complaining of chest problems.  Resident says that her child never suffered with their chest before moving here and has now been diagnosed with asthma. There are ongoing complaints of the amount of dust in houses, on cars and garden furniture.   


The monitor that Bryn Group use monitors PM1, PM2.5, PM10 and total particulates with a 24/7 monitor. The results from this monitor can be accessed via AirQWeb - Air Quality Data Monitoring website.

Response provided by CCBC:

The monitor that Caerphilly County Borough Council has in place monitors for PM10. 

Particulate Matter or PM is a type of air pollution and is the name for a mix of solid and liquid particles of varying size and shape. PM is grouped into particles of different sizes, for example particles less than 10 micrometres in diameter are called PM10 and those less than 2.5 micrometres in diameter are called PM2.5.  Particles from quarries tend to be coarse particles between PM2.5 to PM10.  Monitoring of PM10 at the site has been reassuring and below relevant air quality standards.

It is possible to monitor smaller particles (termed PM2.5), but these are less likely to come from quarrying and can originate from a wide variety of man-made and natural sources.  PM2.5 can also be carried long distances by the wind. This means that PM2.5 levels measured in any particular place may not be due to pollution produced in that place.

Consequently, whilst the measurement of PM2.5 can be considered desirable not least for reassurance purposes, it is not warranted at this time – given the low PM10 levels measured to date. Should overall PM levels be demonstrated to substantially increase, through ongoing monitoring,  then the decision to monitor PM2.5 can be reviewed.

Ultimately the quarry operations must comply with regulations, including continued application of best available techniques, to control dusts.


Concern about the 2 fire incidents.  A seriously injured employee and a “contained” fire caused by a spark.  How safe is the village if a similar incident spread to the AD?  Has the H&S report been shared?    

Response provided by Bryn Group:

HSE were informed and did not feel they needed to investigate it. We have a fire risk assessment done every year as part of our ISO scheme. This is carried out by a consultant working for Blackwood Fire. The recycling site has a Fire Mitigation and Management Plan (FMMP) approved by NRW. This has been reviewed since the fire on the drying floor and additional staff training undertaken following the review of the FMMP. We are also investing in a new system of drying.

The distance between the Anaerobic Digestion (AD) plant and the rest of site is over the specified legal requirement and the AD area itself is governed by Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations (DSEAR). There is a full DSEAR risk assessment for the AD, which has been done by a DSEAR qualified consultant via our insurance company. DSEAR does more than just fire and is a legal requirement for AD plants (and flour mills).


There is a feeling among residents that BG are allowed to do what they want, when they want.  When looking at the planning applications on CCBC site it is not easy to get an overall picture of what has been granted and what, if anything is ever refused.  It seems that by wording applications differently whatever has been refused is then granted and if not work is carried out and retrospective planning is applied for.  It has always been unclear what future expansions plans are because plans are applied for little by little and no end goals are publicised       

Response provided by Caerphilly County Borough Council:

A comprehensive list of the planning history relating to the site is provided.


The road has been flooding where the pipe has been put under the road and along the main road towards Trelewis is regularly strewn with rubbish which has either blown or fallen from lorries this rubish ranges from earthing from mattresses to buckets  

Response provided by Bryn Group:

Not all lorries travelling that road go to the site. Lorries and skip wagons etc need to be sheeted or netted to prevent materials escaping. Bryn Group conduct checks to ensure all wagons entering the site are appropriately sheeted or netted.

Response provided by CCBC:

Dropping litter is an offence. If residents witness materials falling from lorries/wagons, they are asked to note the registration number, location, date and the material and report it for investigation at


It is felt that residents are ignored when they complain to CCBC and NRW.  They ring to complain but are never informed of the outcome of any investigation of their complaints.  It has got to the point where residents no longer ring because they feel that they are not believed and are told that no other complaints have been received.  There is no communication with complainants even when they have filled in Diary sheets.      

Response provided by Natural Resources Wales:

Response provided by Natural Resources Wales (NRW):  All environmental complaints reported to NRW are given a reference number by our Incident Control Centre (ICC).

The incident / complaint is then assessed by our Duty Officer and assigned to either an incident officer to investigate immediately or to the regulating officer.

The complaints are investigated promptly by notifying the Bryn Group immediately upon receipt of a complaint. Bryn Group will undertake an investigation and report their findings back to NRW.

Feedback regarding the outcome of the complaint is provided to the reporter as soon as practicably possible unless the reporter has not requested feedback. If the complaint falls outside NRW’s remit it is, then passed on promptly to the correct regulating body, usually Caerphilly County Borough Council to investigate with the complainant informed of this assessment and decision.

Response provided by Caerphilly County Borough Council:

All complaints are recorded by the contact centre and logged into a database for Environmental Health Officers to action. If sufficient information is recorded, an Environmental Health Officer (EHO) will investigate and subsequently report to the complainant. On other occasions, the EHO may speak to the complainant prior to investigating the complaint. Depending on the nature of the complaint, a site visit may be made and in all cases feedback is provided to complainants.

With regard to diary sheets, very few have been submitted to Environmental Health over recent years. In 2022 only one sheet was submitted and an EHO has engaged with that complainant.

Additionally, proactive odour monitoring visits also take place (not linked to complaints). We would strongly encourage residents to report complaints to us as they arise in order that they can be thoroughly investigated.


Have any risk assessments been done at this site and if so is it possible to view them?

Response from Bryn Group:

Currently we have 57 Risk Assessments for the Bryn Group and 15 for the farm.


A major concern is the amount of HGV lorries using the small local roads through Penybryn and Gelligaer. These local roads were not built for size, frequency or volume of traffic.

They are narrow with permitted parking on the road making it perilous to drive along the main road towards Ystrad if there is an HGV coming the other way. 

They often drive at speed and some will not give way. Residents in Trelewis have also complained about the heavy lorries and there is a worry for children getting off school buses. 

When the lorries come through Penybryn and Gelligaer they have to turn at the church onto the main road which is dangerous junction with a crossing right after the turning. When travelling this way they also have a very tight turn into BG. The pollution from 100's of HGV's accelerating hard up a steep hill from Trelewis near houses causes huge amounts of pollution.      

Response from CCBC:

The council has investigated this and produced a comprehensive report. It was also confirmed at the last meeting of the Bryn Group Liaison Group that a representative from the council’s Infrastructure team would attend the next meeting to discuss any specific concerns regarding highways safety/flooding with residents.

The information on the following web page is also available to provide residents with more detail on its work on speed management: Speed management. Flooding on the highway should also be reported here: Report flooding

Pollution from vehicles – HGV emissions are checked during the annual MOT as prescribed by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency. Additionally, not all the vehicles that travel on the roads surrounding the Bryn Group visit the site.

The speed at which vehicles drive through villages – all drivers must comply with speed restrictions signposted for various lengths of roads. Failure to comply with speed restrictions is regulated by the Police.


The wheel wash whilst commendable seems to be in the wrong position to stop the major hazard of dirt and muck at the entrance to the site.         

Response provided by Bryn Group:

The only place on site that the road is not sealed, so could create dirt that could be dragged on to the road, is in the quarry. The wheel wash is located on the exit of the quarry to stop dirt being dragged onto the weighbridge and from there to the highway.


There is a feeling that Slurry and food waste spreading conditions are not always adhered to and the smell is not “just slurry” .

Response provided by Caerphilly County Borough Council:

The Bryn Group mainly spread digestate on their farmland, which does have a different odour to pure farm slurry. Digestate is the by-product from the Anaerobic Digestion plant, which treats food waste as well as slurry from the on-site farm.

All farms are excluded from spreading between 15 October and 31 January. The DEFRA Code of Good Agricultural Practise states:

You should not apply livestock manures and dirty water when:

  • the soil is waterlogged; or
  • the soil is frozen hard; or
  • the field is snow covered; or
  • the soil is cracked down to field drains or backfill; or
  • the field has been pipe or mole drained or subsoiled over drains in the last 12 months; or
  • heavy rain is forecast within the next 48 hours.

Response provided by Natural Resources Wales:

Where the digestate produced in the Anaerobic Digestion (AD) plant adheres to the Quality Protocol  for Anaerobic Digestate and meets PAS 110 baseline quality specification, the digestate is considered a non-waste and is not subject to waste management controls.  Spreading of digestate which adheres to the Quality Protocol for Anaerobic Digestate and meets PAS 110 does not require an authorisation from NRW.

Adherence to the QP and PAS 110 is assessed by a third-party approved accreditation body during an annual inspection undertaken according to BS EN 45011:1998.

Spreading of digestate which does not adhere to the Quality Protocol for Anaerobic Digestate and/or does not meet PAS 110 baseline quality specification does require an authorisation from NRW.

Any poor spreading practice which results in pollution of the environment (e.g. discharge to controlled waters) or nuisance (e.g. odour) is regulated by NRW’s local Environment Team or Local Authority Environmental Health officers, respectively.

Digestate which does not adhere to the Quality Protocol for Anaerobic Digestate and/or does not meet PAS 110 baseline quality specification would be classified as waste.  Any authorisation (exemption, standard rules permit or bespoke permit) to spread waste to land would be regulated by the Waste Regulation Team. 

Similarly, the spreading of digestate which does not adhere to the Quality Protocol for Anaerobic Digestate and/or does not meet PAS 110 baseline quality specification (i.e. waste), except under and to the extent authorised by an environmental permit (or exemption) would be investigated by the Waste Regulation Team.

Currently, there are no authorisations in place and the Waste Regulation Team are not currently investigating any unauthorised waste spreading activity involving Bryn Group (and associated legal entities).

NRW consider that any odour complaints arising from land spreading activities would be under the Local Authorities remit to investigate, as the odour is not arising from within an NRW permitted area of Bryn Group.


After the site visit it was made clear that the automatic door closing system has been disabled and relies on the operators to manage this. This means that for all BG's claims that “you can't get smells from the food recycling plant as doors automatically open and close within minutes” is a lie.  Is this not something that NRW and CCBC have picked up on?

Response from Natural Resources Wales:

The Odour Management Plan (version v1.0) indicates that the reception hall is served by an automatic fast acting door. 

Response from Bryn Group:

The door is automated, as in they are on a button controller rather than a hand chain. It is a fast-acting door and does a full cycle in 24 seconds. We found that with the door on the sensor, the lorries waiting to come in would open the door before they could access the building and the JCB would end up opening the door when processing. The door would be up and down hundreds of times a day.

Response from Caerphilly County Borough Council:

Although the Bryn Group have stopped using the sensors for the automatic closing system on the doors at the entrance to the food waste reception area, the doors are still closed during waste tipping, as required. The doors are controlled by the Bryn Group staff to ensure they are closed before the vehicles tip the food waste. Environmental Health have no concerns regarding the change in methods, as the outcome remains the same and the door is closed during waste tipping.


Why is there so much smoke coming from the stacks on the recycling building     

Response from Caerphilly County Borough Council:

There are two Small Waste Incineration Plants ( SWIPs )on the site that are regulated by Environmental Health in the form of permits. They are inspected by Environmental Health annually.

The SWIP at the rear of the food waste reception building is currently not in operation. One complaint regarding smoke was received during 2022 and one complaint in 2023, on the day of the liaison group site visit on 27th January. There was no smoke witnessed during this site visit.

Pre-COVID, Environmental Health did receive a few complaints alleging smoke from the SWIPs , which upon visit to the site was concluded to be water vapour/condensation, which did look like smoke from a distance.


What are Bryn Group doing regarding the noise from the fan on the animal drying building         

Response from Bryn Group:

We have fitted a silencer.


Concern of vehicles entering and leaving site in what is believed to be out of hours           

Response from Bryn Group:

We operate entirely withing our permitted hours.


CCBC rhetoric on recent media post about people having misconceptions is unprofessional, claiming people don't know the truth and sounding very supportive of BG.  How can CCBC be impartial when they benefit from BG.  It was also very unprofessional behaviour from EH who appeared more like friends of the owners than an employee of the Council.      

Response from Caerphilly County Borough Council:

Caerphilly County Borough Council contracts the company to process various waste streams. This is done via strictly regulated competitive tendering procedures. Staff from the Procurement Team and Waste Management Team are involved that process. They do not regulate the site.

Environmental Health Officers regulate the site and are not involved in the tendering processes or awarding of contracts. EHOs remain impartial to the contract arrangements.

EHOs work hard to develop good working relationships with all operators across the county borough, to ensure that they work together well and have good, open lines of communication to resolve any issues that may arise. Regular cordial communication between both parties remains incredibly important.


EH as stated above seem to have a very relaxed, friendly relationship with BG.  However when residents have phoned or had online meetings with them we were made to feel as if we had no legitimate reason to complain.  Have EH ever met with residents to discuss their concerns?  Have they ever measured blasts from inside a residents home?  Have they ever gone to the area within 20 minutes of a report of a disgusting smell?     

Response from Caerphilly County Borough Council:

The working relationship between EHOs and Bryn staff has been answered above.

EHOs have met with residents on numerous occasions, when investigating complaints and throughout the many years that the various liaison meetings have been held.

The quarry planning permission is subject to a condition limiting the ground vibration arising from blasts, also in accordance with national policy and guidance, and monitoring results are reviewed regularly.  The results over several years indicate that ground vibration measured close to residential properties in Penybryn and Gelligaer is well below the levels likely to cause even minor cosmetic damage to property.

The results have been well within the terms of the planning condition, which restricts the resulting peak particle velocity to less than 4 millimetres per second for 95% of the time and never more than 8mm/s in line with guidance in Planning Policy Wales and significantly stricter than suggested vibration limits suggested in Minerals Technical Advice Note (Wales) 1: Aggregates. People generally become aware of blast induced vibration at levels of around 1.5mm/s and guidance states that cosmetic damage, or hairline cracks in plaster or mortar joints, should not occur at vibration levels lower than 20mms ppv, but blasts have rarely been recorded at more than 2mm/s.

With regard to visiting within 20 minutes of reporting an odour: This depends on availability of officers and whether they are within 20 minutes travelling distance to the site. There have been many occasions over the past years when officers that were based at Ty Penallta have responded within 20 minutes. Additionally, officers have been in the area when a complaint has been received.


As BG have now become a substantial business as well as a large supplier to the LA would they consent to an independent ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) review?  This focusses on the business improving in the right areas.

Environmental waste and pollution,  resource depletion, greenhouse gas emission, deforestation, climate change.

Social employee relations and diversity,  working conditions,  local communities,  health and safety,  conflict.

Governance tax strategy, executive remuneration, donations & political lobbying, corruption & bribery,  board diversity & structure.   

Response from Bryn Group:

When we feel ESG is truly a scheme to improve a business’ performance. For now, we are ISO accredited which we feel is far superior to ESG as it does not give a financial value to your actions. It ensures you are working to UK and EU regulations, and you are constantly looking to improve the way you operate the business for health and safety, environment and product safety. 


NRW have Compliance Assessment Reports do CCBC have anything similar?  If conditions are attached to a planning application are any visits made to site to check compliance?  If a complaint is received do CCBC actually visit site or do they just ring BG to ask if the complaint is legitimate and take their word for it?  

Response from Caerphilly County Borough Council – Planning team:

In planning terms there is no provision for Compliance Assessment Forms. Officers have, however, visited the site on numerous occasions and all planning enforcement complaints are investigated in accordance with the Councils adopted Planning Enforcement Charter.

Addition from Caerphilly County Borough Council – Environmental Health team:

Environmental Health do not use Compliance Assessment Reports. Powers exist to serve abatement notices with reference to statutory nuisance and notices in relation to environmental permitting powers. Environmental Health have not served any notices on the Bryn Group to date. EHOs serve notices when necessary however, working with operators and businesses to achieve a satisfactory resolution is often preferable and the quicker option.