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.


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.



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”

Future Landscapes

In the past, quarrying, mining, heavy industry, farming, textiles, and fishing have all played an important role in the economic life of Meirionnydd, and then they have faded. Now the one enduring industry that we can count on not only to survive, but if properly managed to provide growth in the years to come, is tourism.

Tourism has long since overtaken farming in the size of its contribution it makes to the Welsh economy. Even if Brexit marks the end of the long-standing EU vendetta against hill farmers, and future UK governments give this sector of agriculture the support it so desperately needs and deserves, recovery will take decades.

Arguably, the only exploitable major natural resource that rural Wales still posses is its landscape, Continue reading “Future Landscapes”

From Community Council Minutes 1

Isn’t the custom of publishing minutes of meetings a really wonderful thing? It means that if you didn’t happen to be at a meeting, or can’t remember much about it, or think that someone else’s version of events might be a bit highly flavoured, you can grab the minutes and find out exactly what went on.

Of course minutes don’t have to describe everything that happens at a meeting. Do we really need to know at what point in a particularly impassioned appeal for peace, universal love, and harmony the chairman choked on his dentures, or why an elderly council member left so suddenly when the name of a certain young lady was mentioned by his aunt’s second cousin’s nephew (once removed) in connection with a controversial planning application for a new erection at Menhir Fawr? But of course proper minutes will aways describe the business under discussion in an accessible way, and keep those who were not fortunate enough to be present fully informed.

This is particularly important where a community council is concerned. After all Welsh Government guidelines require that councillors take steps to acquaint themselves with all shades of option in the community they represent, even those they may disagree with. They are also supposed to ensure that everyone’s views get a fair hearing, and obviously everyone should be able to find out if they are doing that. Continue reading “From Community Council Minutes 1”

Bypass consultation NOT!

As previously mentioned here, Gwynedd Council claims that they are carrying out a public consultation about their plans for a bypass. This is a statutory requirement prior to making a planning application for a major project and for the first time all the relevant documents are available for inspection, but only on the internet.

The question is whether this is a consultation at all. To begin with, Gwynedd Council refer to their project as the ‘A496 Llanbedr Access Improvement Scheme’, which does not describe the proposal accurately. The plan is, and always has been, to build a bypass. Far from improving access to Llanbedr with all that it has to offer, this will divert traffic away from the village. It cannot possibly be described as improving access to Llanbedr, and how can you claim that you are undertaking a consultation when you don’t even describe what you are doing properly?

But that’s not all. Surely for a consultation to be anything more than a sham, you have to make sure that the people who will be affected by the proposed scheme know that there is a consultation taking place, so that they can make any representations they wish? In this case that would be every one who lives in the Llanbedr Community Council area as a bare minimum. Continue reading “Bypass consultation NOT!”

Bypass FAQs

(This is quite a long read, but if you are willing to consider a well written and researched case against building a bypass,  then you will find it worthwhile. The author refutes many of the partisan claims made by  Gwynedd Council and also by Llanbedr Community Council, a body intended to represent all shades of opinion in the community fairly.)

Q1:           Isn’t a bypass necessary for development at the airfield?

A1:               Absolutely not.

The Economic Impact Report commissioned by Gwynedd Council from Wavehill Consultants of Aberaeron gives three scenarios for development at the airfield.

  1. Development to continue as it has done for the last 5 years since the enterprise zone was established.
  2. Research and development into unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) for which planning permission already exists
  3. Development of a spaceport.

The Report concludesthis study has found that the direct economic impact of proposed roadworks in and around Llanbedr to improve access to the nearby airfield as a stand-alone intervention is limited.” It also concludes that a spaceport would not be viable without road access improvements but other developments at the airfield could happen without the improvements.

However even a spaceport does not require a bypass. A simple access road from the A496 between Llanbedr and Dyffryn Ardudwy will provide a more secure and safer access to the airfield which would avoid heavy vehicles having to turn into Mochras Road.

Together with improvements to parking in the village, the provision of a footbridge and walkways and other traffic measures this would solve allof the named issues. However despite looking at a total of 23 of their own “options”, this option was not even considered by Gwynedd Council despite it being pointed out to them on many occasions. Continue reading “Bypass FAQs”

New bypass “consultation”?

Gwynedd Council consultants YCG have announced that they need to consult local residents about what they refer to as the ‘Llanbedr Access Improvement Scheme’.

Never mind that YGC just cannot bear to use the term ‘bypass’.

Never mind that everyone knows that it is a bypass, and was always going to be a bypass.

Never mind that the plans have long since been finalised and it’s a bit late for consultation.

Never mind that the time to ask people if they want a bypass is when the scheme was being planned, not after it’s been finalised.

Never mind that at the planning stage YGC didn’t tell anyone that it was going to be a bypass.

Never mind that a bypass cannot accurately be described as the ‘Llanbedr Access Improvement Scheme’, because a bypass will take people away from Llanbedr, not improve access to the community and its businesses.

Anyway, a bit late in the day perhaps, YGC say that they want your views before a planning application is made to the Snowdonia National Park Authority (SNPA). Continue reading “New bypass “consultation”?”

Pennies from Cardiff

According to a BBC news story, the Wales Audit Office has rapped the Welsh Government’s knuckles for being just a bit too casual about public funds made available to the company behind the proposed Circuit of Wales motorcycle race track project at Ebbw Vale.

As much as £9.3m seems to have vanished like snow in August without much by way of due diligence on the part of Ken Skates’ Economy and Infrastructure ministry. He’s the cheerful chappy who echoed his predecessor Edwina Hart’s refusal to confirm that Gwynedd Council had complied with Welsh Government guidelines on consultation while planning the Llanbedr bypass.

Given that according to the Beeb, the Welsh Government’s only response to what appears to be a very detailed and utterly damning report by the Auditor is to say that it is “disappointed”,  one might wonder what hope there is for proper oversight of developments at Llanbedr.

Read all about it here:

Circuit of Wales: ‘Flawed’ decisions on public funding

Afterthought: The Auditor may be on the case this time, but two letters to his office asking if he can legitimately sign off government expenditure on the Llanbedr bypass when Gwynedd Council’s consultants have failed to comply with Ken Skates own departments guidelines on public consultation have been ignored. And those guidelines are supposed to apply to  all transport projects promoted or funded by WAG.

Maybe the auditor prefers to wait until money has been misspent before he acts.

Shhh! Don’t mention the ‘b’ word!

Our county councillor Mrs Annwen Hughes —who actually lives in Talsarnau  not Llanbedr although she is quick to point out that she was born and bred at Crafnant Farm, in Cwm Bychan — posted her manifesto for the local government elections on the village noticeboard, but she seems to have been too modest to mention a certain little word beginning with ‘b’.


Although we learn that she will work tirelessly our behalf to ‘ensure educational success and experiences’ at the school, to see that investment at the air field benefits local people and businesses, and  promote the ‘economical benefit’ of tourism — whatever that might be —in this beautiful  area,  there is no mention of her enthusiasm for the Llanbedr bypass and, presumably, the UK Spaceport project that it is window dressing for.

Now some people may wonder quite how a bypass which will deprive local businesses of vital passing trade and help touists to speed through ‘this beautiful area’ without stopping will help with these issues. In fact it’s all rather strange  in view of some of the things that she has said and done in the past. Continue reading “Shhh! Don’t mention the ‘b’ word!”

Llanbedr Spaceport approved?

Blogs get sent stuff, and you have to make up your own mind what to believe. Here’s a pretty good example:

*************STOP PRESS***************


It has been announced that the UK Government has decided that the country’s first spaceport shall be licenced at Llanbedr in Gwynedd.

However because of its location in a protected National Park some conditions have been attached to the licence.

  1. To ensure that the peace of the National Park is preserved, which is a legal requirement, all space flights shall be powered entirely by electricity. In order to provide adequate supplies of electricity the Government has also announced that a new nuclear reactor will be built at the former Magnox reactor site at Trawsfynydd and the two sites, which together form the Snowdonia Enterprise Zone, will be linked by an underground tunnel carrying the cables.
  2. The operators of the spaceport shall not be permitted to enter land currently used as holiday centres at Shell Island and Dyffryn Ardudwy. In addition because of the potential for a spacecraft to fail on take-off, all persons at these centres shall be issued with free hard hats and told to stay in their tents or caravans during launches. This is a belt and braces approach as it is expected that only 1 in 10 space flights will fail and break up. As an extra precaution the Government has contracted the head of North Korea’s rocket programme as an adviser as he has recent experience of failed take-offs and can recommend suitable counter-measures.
  3. To ensure jobs created are taken by locals the working language at the spaceport shall be Welsh and no other language shall be allowed to be used on site.
  4. Before each flight the operators shall clear the sky of all bats and birds to a height of 1 mile and a radius of 5 miles. No creature shall be harmed.

Speaking at the Assembly in Cardiff, the First Minister is reported to have said that these conditions make him look stupid for suggesting Llanbedr as a suitable location for a spaceport and that his preferred option is to scrap the National Park altogether. The local MP, AM and County Councillor all agreed. The Community Council remained silent so as not to upset anyone.

Speaking in Washington DC the US president is reported to have said that any potential launch site is a threat to the USA and he will take military action if necessary to close the site down.

Meanwhile the Foreign Secretary is reported to be planning which European cities could be under the flight path from Llanbedr.

**************END OF NEWS RELEASE***************



Community Council non-election


Well the good news is that two vacancies on the council have been filled by Caroline Evans  and Robin  Ward.

Caroline, whose family home is Plas Gwynfryn, has a first class honours degree in industrial management from Nottingham University and Robin, who has lived in the village with his Welsh wife for over thirty years, has a first class honours degree in physics  from Aberystwyth University and was head of Radiological Protection, Environment, and Emergency Planning at Trawsfynydd nuclear power station.  So they have quite a range of skills that they can contribute public affairs in Llanbedr.

With plans for a bypass and a spaceport signalling the biggest change that Llanbedr has faced since the bridge over the River Artro was built some 400 years ago, they would seem to have just the kind of skills to bring some kind of sanity to the Community Councils deliberations on such matters. With luck they may also be able to undo some of the harm that has been done by the  council’s appalling failure to keep the rest of us informed about these plans and act as a conduit for the views of both those who welcome these developments and those who wish to oppose them. Continue reading “Community Council non-election”