Cardiff Friends of the Earth Newsletter - Summer 1996

Cardiff Bay compensation measures announced

A bird reserve has been announced on the Gwent Levels as a 'compensation measure' for the loss of their feeding grounds in Cardiff Bay. Friends of the Earth have expressed their disappointment. The reserve doesn't compensate for the ever-moving seascape, for the cleansing action of the tides, and for the mud and salt marsh bird feeding grounds. The proposed reserve with fresh water lagoons and wilderness is not suitable for the redshank and dunlin displaced from Cardiff Bay. It also doesn't replace the local wildlife area for the people of Penarth, Dinas Powys, and Grangetown.

The Cardiff Bay Wildlife coalition of local and national organisations agreed with the RSPB statement that they remain implacably opposed to the Cardiff Bay Barrage. Biologist Dr Peter Ferns on behalf of the coalition said there was still a hope that the barrage will never be completed and end up with a footbridge across two piers at the entrance. All the problems of a polluted lake, raised groundwater levels, and rising construction costs could be saved by keeping the bay open to the tides.

The proposed 934 acre reserve would include about 300 acres of land with the flyash dumps of the old Uskmouth power station, about 70 acres at Goldcliffe, and the roughly 1km-wide swathe of land between the two. This swathe of land is owned by over a score people, mainly farmers. The Welsh Office would buy some of it and secure management agreements with the other owners.

The wildlife organisations criticised the proposal as being less than the 1,000 acre minimum area agreed by the Welsh Office in previous letters to the RSPB and because management agreements are not as secure and effective as ownership by a Trust. Because of the reens and associated ecology, 400 acres of the site are already a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) for which management agreements can already be secured. The bird species that the reserve would accommodate has not even been defined yet.

Friends of the Earth will continue to voice their opposition to the impounding of Cardiff Bay to the European Commission. Friends of the Earth will stress to the Environment Commissioner, who is reviewing the project, that the reserve is a con-trick made up in-part of an already existing reserve, not meeting the minimum acreage, and with limited and insecure management agreements.

Terminal case for Wentloog

By Julian Langston

Cardiff Friends of the Earth's campaign against the Wentloog/St Mellons Link Road has intensified over the Winter. South Glamorgan County Council is justifying the road by saying it is needed to serve the European freight terminal proposed for Wentloog, just east of Cardiff. The suggestion that the road was essential to persuade the Welsh Development Agency (WDA) to financially support the terminal (believed to cost about £10 million) have been proved wrong. A letter from the WDA states that they don't believe that the road is needed to service the terminal.

Although we support the principle of a facility to transfer freight from road to rail, we oppose this particular site for the terminal. When located properly, the terminal would reduce the amount of road freight traffic.

Two other organisations have expressed an interest in providing alternative freight facilities. Associated British Ports in Cardiff Docks have said that they have enough land available and they wouldn't need a grant from the WDA. They are currently conducting a feasibility study into their proposal.

Frieghtliner, who operate the existing container yard at Pengam in Cardiff could also take on this role.

Cardiff Friends of the Earth supports the use of existing facilities, or the re-use of old industrial land over the development of a new 100 acre site that would be built on an SSSI.

Some sources have suggested that the terminal is vital for jobs and will create up to 10,000 jobs. A Sough Glamorgan County Council document admits that there are likely to be less than 30 jobs created at the terminal, there will be indirect jobs, but not over 300 times as many.

We have met with Rhodri Morgan MP and asked him to look into certain aspects of the proposal, such as the amount of traffic likely to arise from the terminal and the details of the road access proposed.

An Environmental Impact Assessment has been produced, but only because the Secretary of State for Wales insisted upon it. We are currently evaluating the document.

The Railway Development Society in Wales have joined the campaign, calling for any public money that is available to be spent instead on a rail freight facility in Fishguard. This would allow Irish freight to be sent across Wales by rail instead of by road.

Road Traffic Reduction tour meeting

Our cities are jammed full of traffic, our towns are being taken over by vehicles and our streets are dominated by cars. Our unspoilt villages have heavy lorries rumbling through them and our countryside is being destroyed by road-building. The noise of traffic is becoming more intrusive.

The danger from traffic means that children can no longer walk safely to school on their own. Exhaust pollution threatens the health of millions of our citizens. Diseases linked to traffic pollution like asthma are dramatically on the increase. Official statistics show that vehicle exhausts are spewing out dangerous dust particles called PM10s which kill up to 10,000 people every year.

Official forecasts predict road traffic will almost double over the next 30 years, a nightmare scenario. Faced with this situation, we must take action.

The only answer is a national strategy to reduce road traffic. For this reason, Friends of the Earth, the Green Party, and Plaid Cymru Parliamentary Party are promoting the Road Traffic Reduction Bill. This will require the introduction of policies designed to reduce traffic by ten percent by the year 2010.

The Traffic Reduction Tour will promote the Bill and demonstrate its relevance in both urban and rural areas.

The Bill is supported by over 100 MPs from all parties, 50 local authorities, organisations such as Transport 2000, the RSPB, and by over 500 local authorities from all sections of the community. This includes tenants and residents groups, playgroups, parish councils, and civic societies.

The Bill needs the support of millions of people if it is to succeed. Please attend the Cardiff Traffic Reduction Tour at 2pm on 15 April 1996 at The Central Hotel, Cardiff. There will speakers and you will have the chance to ask questions. We look forward to meeting you.

New website exposes polluters

Friends of the Earth has exposed the nation's worst polluters with an electronic A-Z of the dirtiest factories in England and Wales. Anyone with a connection to the Web can now find out the official Government figures on who and what is contaminating their local environment by using an electronic map.

Using the Government's important, but previously obscure Chemical Release Inventory (CRI), marks the start of a new Right to Know Campaign by Friends of the Earth. This aims to force the Government, and industry, to give greater access to environmental information.

The CRI Website shows how vital information about the environment can easily be provided and at a low cost. Friends of the Earth is now challenging the Government to supply more information on companies that pollute the environment.

Despite existing legislation promoting access to environmental information, a great deal of vital material remains secret. For example, British Gas continues to withhold data on the location and the levels of contamination of hundreds of old gaswork sites.

Four sites in Cardiff are included on the map, Arjo Wiggins Carbonless Paper Ltd, AT Poeton (Cardiff) Ltd, and the two Allied Steel and Wire sites. There are another 31 sites included that are within a 30 mile radius of Cardiff.

Stop the Newbury Bypass

Work to build the Newbury Bypass in Berkshire has already started. If the road is completed, the road would not provide a long-term transport solution for Newbury and would cause massive environmental destruction.

The proposed route ploughs through superb countryside, damaging historic sites, spectacular landscapes, and internationally important wildlife areas.

The road would destroy the habitat of badgers, kingfishers, dormice, bats, and plants that are supposed to be protected by law.

The public inquiry, held in 1998, allowed no consideration of traffic reduction measures as an alternative to building the road. The current National Transport Forecasts predict that the number of vehicles in Newbury would be back to current levels within just seven years.

The risk of air pollution would get worse if the bypass is built as the overall levels of ozone and particulates rise.

The road can still be stopped. Contact the six companies tendering for the contract to build the bypass. Ask them to reconsider their bid. Tell them that you will by shares in the company that wins the contract so you can attend their annual General Meetings and ask them how they can justify their role in the destruction of our natural heritage. The companies bidding for the work are: Amec, Alfred MacAlpine, Keir Group, Costain, Mowlem, and Tarmac.

Campaign news and events

SWWARM

The South Wales Walk Against Roads Mania (SWWARM) is a protest walk and cycle ride against unnecessary road building schemes in south Wales. It will take place on the 3 to 6 May. The walk aims to highlight the enormous damage being caused by the current road building programme, particularly the proposed M4 Relief Road and the A465 Heads of the Valley Road. We invite you can spend anything from an hour to four days seeing the wonderful countryside of south Wales.

Cycling conference in Cardiff

The 1996 national conference of the Cycle Campaigns Network is being organised by Cardiff Cycling Campaign with support from Friends of the Earth Cymru. All Friends of the Earth local groups in Wales have been invited.

The conference, to be held in City Hall on Saturday 20 April is expected to attract over 100 campaigners from around the UK. There will be speakers from the Welsh Office and Department of Transport among others. There will also be an extensive series of workshops aimed at improving campaigning skills.

Sea Empress oil disaster

On 15 February, the Liberian-flagged and Russian-crewed, 147,000 tonne oil tanker Sea Empress hit rocks at the mouth of Millford Haven. It is estimated that 80,000 tonnes of crude oil has leaked into the sea in one of the most environmentally-sensitive areas of Wales.

Culverhouse Cross update

In January 1995, Friends of the Earth received notification from the Vale of Glamorgan Borough Council that they had received an outline planning application for a development of 3 retail warehouse units, totalling 8,175 m square at Brooklands Terrace, Culverhouse Cross. This site is next to the Cardiff city boundary.

During the year two different applications were submitted as well as amended plans and documents. The latest application is for a mixed development of retail and business uses. The application says that part of the site will be used as a Home Base store.

Cardiff Friends of the Earth and Penarth and Barry Friends of the Earth have joined forces in strongly objecting to these plans.

The latest situation is that the developer had appealed to the Welsh Office about the last two applications because the Borough Council didn't make a decision within the statutory period. This means that Friends of the Earth will get another chance to put their objections when the appeal is held.

Countryside saved from development threat

Capel Llanilltern is an area of beautiful countryside on the outskirts of Cardiff near Creigiau. It received a reprieve from development when Mid Glamorgan County Council's planning committee decided to accept the recommendation of the Examination in Public Panel Report that the area should not be included in a list of areas for special employment development within the Structure Plan.

This is good news as the site is also the subject of an outline planning application by Trafalgar House. The site not being included for development in the Structure Plan helps our case for arguing against this proposal. There has been strong local opposition headed by Coed y Criegiau as well as support from Friends of the Earth Cymru.