Llanbedr Community Council on the Fence

If you have been watching the Llanbedr Bypass planning application page on the Snowdonia National Park Authority (SNPA) web site very carefully, you just might have noticed that the 136 documents listed there when Gwynedd Council’s application was registered a couple of weeks ago has now swollen to one-hundred-and -forty. Among the new arrivals is Llanbedr Community Council’s comments on the bypass, which are of course, likely to influence the final decision. Community council comments can be pretty important on these occasions.

Now one might have expected that our council would have posted a copy of this rather important document on their web site. After all they do have a page misleadingly called ‘New Road’ when everyone knows that what they are really talking about is actually a bypass that will change Llanbedr forever, but they dare not say so. If they had done that, everyone would be able to see what is being said on their behalf without rummaging through 140 documents on an obscure website.

A community council is required to represent all shades of opinion in the area they cover. So many people might be rather surprised that such a document has been drawn up and submitted to the planners without a series of public meetings to establish what people think. That would also have been a useful exercise because the council would have been able to benefit from the varied views, experience, and expertise in the community which extends beyond that of the elected members. Or perhaps it might have been a good idea to publish the comment on the website in draft form before it was sent to the planners, just to see what people thought of it and whether it could be improved.

In fact a request for a public meeting before the council’s comments were sent to the planners was made by a householder who is concerned about the bypass. This was refused:  something else that people might find very, very strange.

So it is rather sad that, Continue reading “Llanbedr Community Council on the Fence”

Decision Time for Bypass?

The Sun Sets on Llanbedr

Gwynedd Council has now registered a planning application for a bypass round Llanbedr with the Snowdonia National Park Authority (SNPA). The application does not call it a bypass, although that is obviously what it is, but clings to the illusion that it is merely improved access to the airfield.

Some people may have received the usual type of planning notification letter dated 27th July 2017 telling them that they have 21 days within which to ‘make representations’ to the SNPA. Others may have seen an announcement in the Cambrian News on 3rd August saying that they have 21 days for representations from that date too.

Many people may wonder why notification of a planning application for a major infrastructure project like this, which will transform Llanbedr, was not sent to everyone household and business in the community.

There may be others who are under the impression that they have already objected to the bypass. If you submitted a comment when you saw posters in the village during May (it was not called a bypass then either of course) that was not part of the planning process. It was a pre-planning consultation that the developers had a statutory obligation to carry out. The public’s representations were subsequently discarded and will not be seen by the planning authority. No one was told this so far as Protect Llanbedr can find out.

The SNPA’s planning website  shows that Gwynedd Council’s application comprises no fewer than 136 documents Continue reading “Decision Time for Bypass?”

Just like the old days

Do you remember Llanbedr Airfield in its heyday, when it employed over 200 people, and there was a rush hour in the village morning and evening as everyone bustled too and from work?

Those who can will also remember the rather special collection of ageing jets that the airfield was home to at that time, as well as the pilotless Jindiviks in their smart yellow and orange livery, and the trainee fast jet pilots in their Hawks who use to come down from Valley to practice circuits from the airfield. The sound of those aircraft told us all that Llanbedr’s biggest employer was alive and open for business. In the months after the airfield closed in 2004, the silence was a dismal reminder of what had passed.

Next week, from 7th – 11th August, Continue reading “Just like the old days”

Bypass Planning Application

 

The Snowdonia National Park Authority has now sent out letters notifying interested parties that Gwynedd Council has applied for planning permission to build a bypass at Llanbedr. There is a deadline of 21 days from 27th July 2017 to submit objections. The full application documents are available for inspection at their Penrhyndeudraeth offices during normal working hours, and also on-line at authority’s website at: www.snowdonia-npa.gov.uk

During the nearly four years during which this scheme has been in preparation,  neither Gwynedd Council or Llanbedr Community Council have dared refer to it as a bypass, nor have either of these supposedly democratic bodies taken any steps to ensure that the community is generally aware of the downside of such a development as well as any benefits it may possibly offer. That is the reason why Protect Llanbedr exists.

If you would like to consider Gwynedd Council’s proposals in a more detail than the politicians Continue reading “Bypass Planning Application”

Unforeseen Consequences?

When the clerk to a small rural local council elsewhere — one not unlike Llanbedr Community Council — saw the plan of the proposed Llanbedr bypass, her first reaction was, “I suppose they are going to infill”. She had immediately noticed that if the bypass is built, it will cut off quite a large triangle of land between the new embankments on which the will run and the village.

Now everyone knows that the UK has an acute housing shortage. Local authorities are under enormous pressure from central government to find more and more land that new homes can be built on. So once a road scheme encloses land on the edge of an existing community it is quite usual to revise the local plan so that, even if the area is green field land, development can take place in future.

The other morning Chris Grayling, the Secretary of State for Transport, was interviewed on the BBC Radio4 Today programme. Continue reading “Unforeseen Consequences?”

An Alternative to the Bypass

Introduction

Most of the businesses in the Llanbedr village say they rely for most of their income on tourists and much of that from either passing trade or from those who see what the village has to offer as they pass through and return later – if only we had some decent parking for them! You only have to see how quiet it is in the Winter to realise this. Quite understandably most of the businesses do not wish to speak out as they believe that they would receive a lot of ill-will from some in the community.

What about us having pavements on the road and traffic calming so we can all walk to the village feeling safer but still allowing the businesses to survive?

There is an alternative to a Llanbedr bypass.

  • These proposals will cost a small fraction of the £14.3 million bypass.
  • They will achieve all of Gwynedd Council’s stated transport objectives (see below)
  • They score highly against the Welsh Government’s Impact Area criteria (see below)
  • They will be less damaging to the environment.
  • They will not damage the views from the village.
  • They will not increase the background noise in the village.
  • They will not increase the flood risk in the village.
  • They do not compromise the Shoreline Management Plan.
  • They will support the businesses on the main road that depend on passing trade for their survival.
  • They will ensure that pedestrians feel safe on the road.
  • They will protect existing footpaths.
  • They will not harm the setting of the Meini Hirion standing stones.
  • They will ensure that we do not suffer from the sort of junctions that made the Dolgellau bypass a death trap.
  • They will curtail speeding and make it safer for vehicles to join the main road.
  • They will provide proper parking for visitors who wish to enjoy the village and its hinterland.
  • They will improve the traffic flow especially at the Mochras Road junction.
  • They will provide improved access to the airfield should development occur there.

No-one is suggesting that these proposals will be easy to achieve, but the end result has to be worth the effort. If necessary, they can be introduced in stages to spread the cost.

If there had been proper consultation from the outset these proposals could have been independently assessed and the taxpayer could have saved the £1 million already spent. Continue reading “An Alternative to the Bypass”

What can this mean?

 

The following rather strange announcement has turned up on the Llanbedr Community Council website, but without any explanation as to what has brought on such a bizarre outburst:

 

CONTACT US: post@llanbedr.com

When submitting your contribution to www.llanbedr.com please make sure that it:

  • is not defamatory
  • is not vexatious
  • does not promote material from anonymous sources
  • does not infringe any law

www.llanbedr.com , cyngorllanbedr@gmail.com , post@llanbedr.com  are the official property of Llanbedr Community Council / Cyngor Cymuned Llanbedr.

 

Please be wary of notices and publications referring unofficially to or purporting to represent the agreed business of the Community Council.

 

Even stranger, this only appears on the English language version of the New Road web page (that’s what Llanbedr Community Council insist calling the bypass). Presumably it doesn’t apply to Welsh speakers or ‘contributions’ about anything else. Obviously the council has a problem of some kind, but it’s all very puzzling.  Perhaps they don’t really mind receiving defamatory, vexatious, anonymous, or illegal representations, or people impersonating them, just as long are not about the ‘new road’  or  in English. Or could it be that it is unthinkable that any Welsh speaker would behave so heinously? Perhaps the council’s onslaught is only directed at one or two individuals who are known not to speak Welsh, but surely that isn’t possible because it would be rather silly and possibly discriminatory.

Of course Protect Llanbedr is always very happy to do whatever it can to assist the community council. As we understand that their website receives very few visitors, we’ve reproduced the announcement here in the hope that it will reach as many members to the community as possible.

Spaceport legislation in Queen’s Speech 2

Before the Queen delivered her speech to parliament outlining the government’s legislative for the next two years, the spin-doctors were hard at work briefing the media about measures aimed at developing the UK aerospace industry.

This is what the speech actually said about space developments yesterday:

My government will work to attract investment in infrastructure to support economic growth. Legislation will be introduced to ensure the United Kingdom remains a world leader in new industries, including electric cars and commercial satellites. A new bill will also be brought forward to deliver the next phase of high-speed rail.

The Queen’s Speech, 21/06/2017

 

Interestingly, this seems to refer to encouraging private investment rather than direct government aid from public funds.

The Queen’s Speech only gives a very brief summary of what measures will be brought before parliament. To find out more, one must turn to the government’s briefing paper that accompanies the speech. Continue reading “Spaceport legislation in Queen’s Speech 2”

Spaceport legislation in Queen’s Speech 1

 

Suddenly, news feeds are full of stories about space flight and spaceports:

Queen’s Speech: Government to announce plans for commercial space flights and ports for spaceships

The Independent Online, 20th June 2017

ON THE HORIZON: Space travel set to take off as Government unveils plans to build ‘rocket ports’ around the country in the Queen’s Speech

The Sun, 19th June 2017

 

It seems strange that a government that has lost its majority, and whose real concerns are unlikely to extend far beyond Brexit legislation and staying in power, should be giving space flight priority. So are we just seeing an attempt by the Number 10 spin doctors to break into a constant stream of damaging stories with something that sounds upbeat, progressive, and really, really, optimistic? Just what the PM’s image needs! Don’t say we are going back to the days when the political agenda was set by ‘eye-catching initiatives’ that a desperate leader could be associated with.

Even if the proposed legislation puts the regulatory framework for spaceports in place, where will funding for this new industry rank against the demands of the NHS, the police, social care, schools and a hundred other public services during a period of austerity? Only time will tell.

What is certain is that our political representatives, at all levels, need to start consulting locals about the real impact of a spaceport being built here, because this is a decision that will be taken a very long way from Llanbedr and local interests will need all the support they can get.

The shape of things to come?

Here is a nice photo of Llanbedr on a fine summer day. It graces the front page of Gwynedd Council’s Environmental Statement, which it has prepared to support it’s plans to build a bypass round the village. This wonderful document is all about what a jolly good care your council is taking of your surroundings. It runs to over 500 pages.

The photograph is taken from the middle of the field to the west of Maes Artro, looking north across Mochras Road, the bend in the river beside the riverside car park and picnic area, and along the line of the proposed bypass to the houses beside the main road at the north end of the village. It shows the attractive and tranquil countryside that Llanbedr is set in.

And now here is a graphic taken from Gwynedd Council’s ‘Fly Through’ video simulation of what their lovely new bypass will look like if they get to build it. This shows exactly the same location as it will be if a bypass is built, with the bend in the river and the car park, but from a slightly different angle,.

Although the video attempts to disguise the new bridge as much as possible by using some convenient placed trees to screen it, just look at the height of the bridge as represented in the ‘Fly Through’ image and then the size of the car that is approaching it. Clearly the height of the bridge where it crosses Mochras Road is not represented accurately in the video. No commercial vehicle could possibly pass under it, and even a car might be in danger of scraping its roof.

With that in mind, it’s worth taking another look at the first picture. Bear in mind what the bridge looks like, and then consider the environmental impact on the village, and the whole area around it, if a new road very similar to the Porthmadog Bypass is constructed on embankments at Llanbedr.

Bypass Cost Escalating

Data obtained from the Welsh Government under the Freedom of Information Act seems to show that the cost of a bypass has escalated rapidly even before the scheme has got off the drawing board.

A spend profile dated September 2016 estimates total expenditure to complete the project by quarter 2 of 2020 as £10,190,000.00.

Just four months later, another spend profile dated January 2017 shows expenditure to completion in quarter 2 of 2021 as £14,390,000.00.

That is an increase of £4,200,000.00, or over 40%.

The spend profiles can be found here, and it is worth noting that neither of them appear to include the half million pounds of funding allocated by the Welsh Government to kick-start the scheme prior to April 2016.

Among correspondence that was disclosed by Cardiff at the same time is this rather cryptic suggestion:

“Gc’s other option if WEFO doesn’t stack up is to include this scheme etc within the North Wales Growth deal bid to UK Gov.”

Translated, this apparently means that in order to obtain funding, Gwynedd Council is advised to apply to the UK Government if even the Welsh European Funding Office is reluctant to waste money on this inappropriate and unnecessary project. But wouldn’t it to be fascinating to know what ‘etc’ stands for in this context.

 

 

 

Development? What development

An eagle-eyed reader of Protect Llanbedr noticed this on page 107 of the Environmental Statement Gwynedd Council has made available as part of their so-called consultation about the Llanbedr bypass scheme.

5.3.27

The Economic impact assessment undertaken on this development suggests that the main impacts would be in the development of RPAS [Remotely Piloted Air System – aka drones] activities at the airfield. At the same time, improved road access is also considered to consolidate the employment in the airfield rather than induce huge increases. MRO [maintenance repair and overhaul] activity identified would be reliant in part on the development of the RPAS activities. Further development of the Business park is thought to be likely, although not a significant area of immediate growth.

 

5.3.28

In line with this, no specific physical development ofthe airfield site is currently planned or anticipated on a significant scale in the near future, with the economic model being based on the growth in industry primarily utilising existing infrastructure.

A 4 9 6 L l a n b e d r A c c e s s I m p r o v e m e n t: VOLUME 1: ENVIRONMENTAL STATEMENT

 

Now at the moment, ‘economic activity’ at the airfield seems only to be employing about 7 people full time (see here and here) in face of claims from the operators, Continue reading “Development? What development”