Cardiff Friends of the Earth Newsletter Autumn 1995

Wentlooge – St Mellons Link Road – RIP

Cardiff Friends of the Earth has been fighting a long-term battle against three roads which South Glamorgan County Council were determined to foist upon Cardiff: the Wentlooge – St Mellons Link; the Ely Spur; and the Eastern Approach Road (aka the Wenlooge Motorway). All three were included in early versions of the South Glamorgan Structure Plan and the City of Cardiff Local Plan.

We argued strongly against these three roads at the Public Local Enquiry into the City of Cardiff Local Plan with great success. The inspector recommended the deletion of the Ely Spur and the Wentlooge – St Mellons Link Road from the Cardiff Local Plan and the County Council itself withdrew the Eastern Approach Road. We are very pleased that the city council accepted the inspector's recommendations and that none of these three roads now appear in the Local Plan.

Sadly this has not stopped the county council from continuing to pursue their own bizarre agenda. When the latest version of the County Structure Plan was produced, the Ely Spur and the Eastern Approach were both specifically mentioned and, although not mentioned, the Wentlooge – St Mellons Link Road still appeared on the accompanying map. Several groups (including Cardiff City Council) objected to this. The County Council have now totally withdrawn the Wentlooge – St Mellons Link Road. This looks like the last we shall hear of this scheme at least. They are still holding firm about the Ely Spur and the Eastern Approach.

The County Structure Plan is subjected to an Examination in Public (EIP) in November. Outrageously the County Council are trying to keep the issue of the Ely Spur and the Eastern Approach Road off the agenda of items to be considered at the EIP. Considering that these are just about the most controversial aspects of the Structure Plan, they are unlikely to get away with this ridiculous tactic.

Whatever happens at the EIP, it now appears that the County Structure Plan will not be ratified until the new Unitary Authority takes power in April 1996. We don't know what the new authority's attitude to the roads will be. The leader, Russell Goodway, and the Chair of Highways, Ken Hutchings, are notoriously pro-roads. However, Labour has fought the election on a platform of operating a bias against roads in general and the Ely Spur in particular. The new council can be sure that we will be watching to make sure that they stick to these pledges.

A new council, but new policies?

On 6 May 1995, a new unitary authority was elected to replace Cardiff City Council and South Glamorgan County Council. It is overwhelmingly made up of Labour councillors. Of the 67 council seats, Labour have 56, the Liberal Democrats 9, with the Conservatives and Plaid Cymru getting one each.

Subsequent internal elections within the ruling Labour Group resulted in Russell Goodway becoming the Leader of the new council. He is currently the Leader of South Glamorgan County Council (SGCC), which will cease to exist on 1 April 1996.

We can probably expect him to carry over his current policies into the new council. His current philosophies are based around development to create jobs, creating a “Greater Cardiff”, stretching from the boarder with Gwent to the far side of Barry. SGCC also believes that its highways policy of creating a number of expensive dual carriageways, including the Peripheral Distributor Road (PDR), around the south of Cardiff has been extremely successful in opening up land for development and creating jobs.

Cardiff Friends of the Earth is opposed to the scale of development proposed by SGCC and question the “success” of recently built roads and the proposed new roads. We believe, along with many people in Cardiff, that the city is as large as it needs to be and that there should be no more expansion onto greenfield sites. Our views have been largely endorsed by the inspector at the recent Cardiff City Local Plan inquiry. He proposed the deletion of many of the business and housing areas that had been proposed on the edge of the city. We believe that there is plenty of room for development within the 2,7000 acres of the Cardiff Bay development area and in certain other infill sites. Encouraging development elsewhere in the city will undermine the redevelopment at Cardiff Bay.

We also believe that it is high time we put major resources into encouraging public transport, cycling, and walking. Major roads can remove jobs by making an area easier to serve from elsewhere. They also very often generate more traffic, a fact acknowledged by the Standing Advisory Committee on Trunk Road Assessment (SACTRA) report to the Government “Trunk Roads and the Generation of Traffic”, causing congestion and discouraging businesses from locating in those areas.

Cardiff Bay Barrage

By Peter Boyce

Everything moves quickly in the Cardiff Bay Barrage saga except work on the scheme. Apparently they are now down to one dredger and are falling even further behind schedule. Meanwhile, the Anti-Barrage Consortium has launched the Anti-Barrage Register (ABR). This is an attempt to get everyone opposed to the scheme together on one database so that they can be kept informed about what is really happening and of ways that they can help in the fight against the barrage.

Cardiff Friends of the Earth and Cardiff Residents Against the Barrage (CRAB) showed last year what could be achieved. Our “Save the Bay Pledge” enabled us to stage a demonstration attended by about 1,000 protesters. This kind of action requires a well informed and well organised opposition. The ABR will allow this. We must unite and keep the struggle going (particularly with the next general election less than two years away and the barrage four years away from completion).

All members of Cardiff Friends of the Earth will automatically receive the information sent out to people on the ABR. The intention is for ABR leaflets to be commercially distributed, with the proceeds from donations raised by one batch of leaflets paying for the next batch of deliveries. However, we need to raise some money to pay for the first batch. You can help by either making a donation or by delivering some leaflets.

The Government recently shot itself in the foot when it designated the Severn Estuary as a Special Protection Area without including Cardiff Bay. The Government is claiming that it can exclude Cardiff Bay for 'over-riding socio-economic reasons'. However, the Director of Wildlife and Countryside at the Department of the Environment recently admitted in a letter to the Chairman of English Nature that the Department of the Environment will not know whether it can lawfully exclude areas from SPAs for economic reasons until after the Lappel Bank test case has been heard in the European Court. If the RSPB wins the Lappel Bank case then it seems clear that the Cardiff Bay Barrage will be scuppered.

Meanwhile, the Welsh Office have to present their proposed mitigation measures for the loss of Cardiff Bay to the European Commission in September 1995. Early reports suggest that these fall far short of what they promised the Commission last year. With a new Environment Commissioner in place we will be stressing both these matters to the Commission and asking for the whole case to be re-opened.

Non à la bombe

The French are about to start their nuclear test programme at Mururoa Atoll in the Pacific Ocean. Friends of the Earth are campaigning against this environmental and social atrocity. There has been widespread opposition, including both the Australian and New Zealand Governments. The French have decided to ignore the protests and go ahead with the nuclear tests anyway.

By resuming their nuclear tests, the French Government are likely to encourage other nuclear states to resume their testing jeopardising progress on the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Please contact the French Embassy in London to protest about the French resumption of nuclear testing. Also boycott French products such as wine, cheese, and bottled water.

Environment facts

More motor vehicles have been added to the UK car fleet since Mrs Thatcher became Prime Minister in 1979 than there were owned in the whole of the UK in 1955.

Five days worth of solid waste from ICI plants weighs more than the Arc De Triomph in Paris.

The water mains in drought-ridden East Anglia leak 57 Olympic-sized swimming pools worth of water a
day.

Every day more than 30,000 articulated road tankers worth of untreated sewage will end up on Britain's beaches. This equivalent to a 290 mile queue of lorries nose to tail.

A year's worth of junked razor blades if laid end to end would be the length of all of Britain's trunk roads.

The US Airforce is removing harmful 'greenhouse' gasses from the cooling systems of their intercontinental ballistic missiles. This will minimise damage to the ozone layer in the event of a nuclear war. How considerate of them.