Protestors have gathered in Caerphilly County Borough to make their voices heard following the destruction of part of a popular bluebell wood.

The area opposite the Cwm Glas estate in Llanbradach has long been a popular beauty spot for families.

But people in the area were horrified to find developers had moved onto the land and began digging up the woodland.

Leader of Caerphilly County Borough Council Cllr Sean Morgan confirmed planning permission had not been granted for the work, and said the authority had launched an enforcement investigation “immediately after the issue was raised”.

Protestors against the damage at the bluebell wood.

On Sunday, more than 120 people gathered at The Wingfield Hotel & Sports Bar and marched to the bluebell woods to protest against the damage to the woods.

“It’s just a sign of the strength of the feeling from the community,” said Llanbradach Community Councillor Beci Newton.

“What we need to do is keep up this momentum and send a clear message to the individuals involved.

“We’ve lost something very important to all of us – our community and our history and our memories.”

The gate to the bluebell woods has now been locked.

Cllr Newton added the protestors also had concerns about the impact any development would have on the nearby ancient woodlands, and whether the road infrastructure was suitable for a caravan park.

Llanbradach’s Plaid Cymru councillor Colin Mann said: “It was an amazing turnout. We’ve even had messages of support from as far afield as New Zealand.

“What we want is to see the place restored to what it was. It should never have happened. It’s mindless vandalism.”

Cllr Colin Mann speaking at the protest.

Bluebells are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981), meaning digging up the plant or bulb in the countryside is prohibited and landowners are prohibited from removing bluebells from their land to sell. It is also illegal to sell wild bluebell bulbs and seeds.

“One of the things we’ve got to do is get this law amended, so you’ve got real protections rather than theoretical protections,” said Cllr Mann.

“We are requesting our local Senedd members to explore the question of strengthening the law, not just for here but for anywhere this happens.

“One of our biggest issues is habitat destruction, and this is a prime example of something that shouldn’t have happened.”

South Wales East MS Delyth Jewell speaking at the protest.

“This is a community asset,” said South Wales East MS Delyth Jewell. “It’s a place that has been such an important part in people’s memories and lives.

“It’s somewhere where local people have gone to walk for generations. It’s not something that should be taken away.

“We need to look nationally about what changes need to be made to the planning system. Even with the rules that we have got, communities do not have enough of a say in protecting things that are important to them.

“If we don’t speak up and don’t demand we keep these assets then future generations won’t have them to enjoy.”