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Pyrolysis plan goes up in smoke

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Government’s highways assessment ‘unbelievable’: Cllr Kevin Madge

Government’s highways assessment ‘unbelievable’: Cllr Kevin Madge

THE CONTENT of an addendum report on a controversial application for a pyrolysis plant at New Lodge Farm, Pontardulais Road, Cwmgwili was described as ‘alarming’ by members of the County Council’s Planning Committee.

The proposal, which was rejected, was for a pyrolysis plant with a generating capacity of 8-12 MWe, and Anaerobic Digestion (AD) facility with a generating capacity of 2-3 MWe and an 8,000 panel Photovoltaic Solar Array.

Presenting the report summary to members of the Committee, Planning Officer Hugh Towns said that the proposed development should be rejected on the precautionary principle, as the applicant had demonstrated no clear justification for the development; there was no need for such a facility in south west Wales; the transport of material from outside the County – possibly even from outside Wales – was unjustified and contrary to existing planning policy; and that the development was not sustainable.

However, members’ concerns focused on the key issues of damage to nearby ancient woodlands, a site of special scientific interest (SSSI) at Felinfach Meadows, and nuisance and pollution.

Cllr Alun Davies. from the Saron Ward, expressed the serious concerns felt locally about the impact of the development. In particular, he noted the impact of emissions from the plant over a wide area that would affect the ecology of both the Amman and Gwendraeth Valleys. He noted that properties were within throwing distance of the proposed plant and there was a genuine and deeply felt concern about an increase in air pollution. He pointed out that a similar development in Cardiff used different technology in connection with reducing air pollution.

NO TO IMPORTING WASTE

Cllr Calum Higgins, of Tycroes, expressed wholehearted agreement with the points raised by Cllr Davies and added that the Council should not be considering importing waste into Carmarthenshire from elsewhere and noted that the Council’s existing recycling facilities were performing well.

Cllr Leader Emlyn Dole, representing his Llannon Ward, told the meeting that he was seriously concerned about the impact on Cwmgwili and the wider area.

He said: “When we consider planning applications for projects such as this, odour and smell are always flagged up as major problems. It is a fact of life that the anaerobic digestion of organic materials will produce unpleasant odours.”

Cllr Dole went on to draw members’ attention to the experiences of communities in the south west of England where similar plants, regardless of assurances that they would not, produced waves of foul stenches.

The Council Leader continued by setting out his concerns that the development would significantly impact upon two key areas of the Council’s regeneration plans for Carmarthenshire: “First impressions are important. The roads accessing this will be off Pont Abraham and Cross Hands. If you’re a tourist coming off the M4 you may decide, having caught a sniff of the plant, to simply put your foot down and head for Pembrokeshire’s purer air.

“I am also concerned about the proximity of the development to the Cross Hands Food Park. That is a development which has added value to the Garden of Wales. The last thing we need is to deter possible incoming investors from coming here.”

ROADS NOT UP TO IT

Cllr Kim Thomas of Llannon alighted upon the issue of parking and the poor safety record of the roads in the immediate vicinity: “The two most dangerous roundabouts in Wales are in my Ward, at Pont Abram and Cross Hands. There was an accident on that road this morning and any increase in traffic in unacceptable. The existing roads are not sufficient for extra traffic.

“I also have concerns about what will happen to waste that cannot be recycled. The waste will be sorted on site and yet there is no sign of where that will take place or where the waste that cannot be recycled will be kept.”

Peter Cooper echoed those concerns: “The highways issue is hugely important,” Cllr Cooper told the Committee. The carriageway round there is a massive problem. On top of that emissions have not been addressed and neither has the effect on watercourses. There are just too many unanswered questions.”

Former Council Leader Kevin Madge weighed into the debate and declared that he found the Welsh Government’s highways assessment ‘unbelievable’.

“The junctions near the site are dangerous and I am not at all happy about the highways assessment. There has been a lot of investment into Cross Hands and I am concerned that this development would send the wrong signal to any other businesses that want to come into the area.

“As for noise and odour: there is no doubt that the health of people living for miles around this plant will be affected. The Prime Minister wouldn’t have this near his home in Oxford, would he? As far as I am concerned, the cat is out of the bag; we will be importing waste from all over. Why should we be burning other people’s waste here? We should protect Felinfach Meadows.”

AIR QUALITY CONCERNS

Pontamman representative Colin Evans used his professional expertise to draw the committee’s attention to an important issue which had been raised in the addendum circulated before the meeting.

Cllr Evans told members: “I used to have responsibility for air quality. When I received the addendum and saw the report from public protection, especially with regard to atmospheric emissions – heavy metal contamination extremely alarmed.

Quoting the addendum report, Cllr Evans noted that ‘The applicant considered this indicated maximum chromium levels of double the background level.’

Cllr Evans said: “This is a significant concern. There is no justification for the claims made about the local environment being able to safely absorb heavy metal pollution and no risk assessment relating to dioxin. The applicants state that there are no assessment criteria, but that is not good enough.”

Cllr Evans concluded: “With no qualms, I support the officers’ recommendation for refusal.” Responding to members’ concerns, Hugh Towns told members that this development would be the first of its kind in Wales. There had been ten applications in England and only one in Scotland for a similar facility. Four applications in England had been granted, three rejected, while one was withdrawn shortly before an appeal hearing relating to its refusal. However, Mr Towns told members that no permit applications had been made in relation to the plants’ capacity to burn waste, and that all the applications for those permits – in both Scotland and England – had been pulled around the same time. No other plants of this type were, therefore, either built or operational in the UK.

VITRIFIED SLAG

Regarding the issue of waste transport, Hugh Towns confirmed that there would be landfill waste left over after the process and that liquid waste, vitrified slag, and material for recycling would be removed from the site by road.

As regards mitigating the visual impact of the site and other environmental effects associated with the proposal, the planning officer pointed out that. “Mitigation is reliant on other people carrying out mitigation works for the applicant on land not owned by the application: there is no capacity for implementation and no obligation on other landowners to do so.”

The Committee rejected the proposal unanimously.

No representative from the developer turned up to the meeting to present its case or answer members’ questions and concerns, or to explain the omissions from the application.

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Ascona Group announces new Car and Truck wash facilities

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Charlie's Truck Wash

ASCONA GROUP, one of the UK’s fastest-growing forecourt operators, is pleased to announce two new vehicle washing partnerships as part of improvements to its unique roadside retail proposition across its forecourt estate.

As part of a new partnership with the American based PDQ Manufacturing, a leader for in-bay automatic vehicle washing facilities, Ascona Group will be the first in the UK to install the ‘Laserwash 360 Plus’, a touchless car wash system for its customers.

The partnership will initially expand the wash options at the Hinton Service Station, with a view to roll out the system to other sites under the Ascona Group’s brand, ‘Charlie’s Express Car Wash’ later this year. The partnership is a significant investment for Ascona and demonstrates its commitment to ever improving the experience for customers.

Ascona Group is also delighted to announce a strategic partnership with WashTec UK that will see Ascona introduce a ‘First of its Kind’ truck washing facility at the Tenby Road site on the A40 Eastbound in Carmarthenshire, which offers the very best technology available to HGV drivers.

The truck wash employs a fully ‘closed loop’ total water recycling system, the first of its kind in Wales, which recovers all water used within the wash process, filtering it for reuse with little or no water entering the mains drainage system. This system ensures Ascona not only has the best commercial wash in South Wales, but also offers customers one of the more environmentally friendly approaches in operation.

Commenting on the announcement, CEO Darren Briggs said: “From the very beginning, we knew that our sites must present our customers with a unique and compelling offer which is why we are constantly seeking new and innovative ways to improve our roadside retail facilities.

“These two new partnerships further demonstrate our focus on creating industry-leading propositions and we are really excited to be working with PDQ Manufacturing USA and WashTec UK. Together, we are keen to continue to build on the success of these new operations and we are actively reviewing multiple opportunities across the Ascona portfolio to roll out more units such as these.”

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Community

Nearly £50,000 of National Lottery funding for community groups in Carmarthenshire

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FIVE local community organisations across Carmarthenshire are celebrating after being awarded a share of £49,575 of funding from The National Lottery Community Fund over the past month.

One successful project was MolTân Makers who will use their £9,820 grant to provide metal working workshops for people wishing to improve their mental health and well-being. The group will reach out to mental health groups and the wider community and also allow people to reconnect with the community following the pandemic.

One participant with MolTân Makers explained, “ The course was professionally run by four hard-working people who helped us with one to one tuition when needed. They were so welcoming and adaptable to individual needs and allowed me to attend the course at different hours due to health reasons.

“They were great company and created an interesting and positive atmosphere to help people with mental and physical health problems feel included and understood and we all took home what we made in the course.”

The Hangout received £10,000 and will help young people improve their mental health and wellbeing through structured outdoor activity programmes. The project will build on a previous pilot project that led to more young people becoming re-engaged in school following the pandemic and continuing to volunteer with the group after the initial sessions finished.

The Alternative Learning Company in Llanelli were awarded £9,955 and will recycle plastic bottles to build full size greenhouses. They will propagate plants for growing schemes in local schools and communities. The project will reduce the levels of plastic sent to landfill or polluting open spaces, and give young people an understanding of the impact of climate change.

Newcastle Emlyn Town Council will build an outdoor structure in collaboration with the community, to mark Her Majesty the Queen’s Jubilee. This £10,000 grant will fund building and design materials, and a water harvesting kit.

Messy Projects will use their £9,800 grant to run the activities and events they missed due to the pandemic. Activities will include celebrating the Queens platinum jubilee, a BBQ, and a Bonfire party.

John Rose, Wales Director at The National Lottery Community Fund, said “These groups play a vital role in supporting their communities and these grants will allow them to continue being there for people in future. 

 ”National Lottery players raise more than £30 million each week for good causes across the UK and the projects funded over the past month show the crucial difference players make through their tickets. I look forward to following all of their progress.”  

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Family of power station worker calls on former colleagues to help with asbestos claim

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THE WIFE of a Carmarthenshire man, who was just 66 when he died of an asbestos-related cancer, is calling on colleagues who worked with him in the 1970s to help understand where and how he contracted the disease.

Peter Colton, from Llanelli, died in July 2021 after being diagnosed with the asbestos-related disease, mesothelioma.

He worked as a conveyor and weighbridge operator for the CEGB at Carmarthen Bay Power Station. During his time at the power station, his duties included offloading coal wagons and conveying coal to the boilers.

It is possible that Mr Colton was exposed to asbestos during those years and now his family has sought the help of local asbestos specialists J.M Parsons, to investigate a claim for compensation.

Ann Colton, Mr Colton’s wife, wants answers. She said: “Peter was diagnosed with mesothelioma and died just six weeks later. He had been suffering from shortness of breath and just had no quality of life.

“It was devastating to see someone who had been so healthy and active slowly get worse and worse. We just want to know where and how he was exposed to asbestos and hope someone out there can help us.”

According to data from the Health and Safety Executive, annual mesothelioma deaths in Britain increased steeply over the last 50 years, a consequence of mainly occupational asbestos exposures that occurred because of the widespread industrial use of asbestos during 1950-1980.

Amanda Jones is one of the specialists at J.M Parsons, which is owned by Thompsons Solicitors. Thompsons has paved the way for asbestos litigation in the UK ever since it brought about the first successful asbestos disease claim to the House of Lords in 1972, 50 years ago.

She said: “We would be grateful to hear from anyone who remembers working with Peter Colton in Carmarthen Bay Power Station in the 1970s or anyone who worked in the same field as Peter beyond the 1970s.

“Such individuals will be invaluable to Mr Colton’s family as they may be able to add important information that will assist us in building a civil claim. We hope that we will then be able to answer questions about the conditions that Mr Colton worked in during his working life.”

Anyone with information should contact Amanda Jones on 01554 779940, or via email at amanda@jmplaw.co.uk.

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