Delays in housing developments due to river quality

During the full council today (Thursday, 7 December), Councillor for Llanwnda Ward, Huw Rowlands (pictured) raised concerns about the delaying of housing developments in Gwynedd due to concerns about water quality in Afon Gwyrfai.

Due to restrictions on phosphorus emissions in Special Areas of Conservation set by Natural Resources Wales, Welsh Water’s treatment plant in Llanfaglan has a negative impact on the water quality of Afon Gwyrfai. The process of treating water and disposing of waste into the river raises the phosphorus level which is detrimental to the environment.

Councillor Huw Rowlands said: “Locally, the problem affects an estate of new houses within my ward, at Dinas. The first phase of the new 26 housing estate, at Gwel y Foel, has been completed, but the second phase of the development is currently on hold until the phosphorus levels has been resolved.

“The housing crisis here in Gwynedd is affecting the residents of the area. Therefore, having any issues that puts a halt on housing local people is worrying. This is only one part of the county, how many other areas within Gwynedd can this affect?"

No decision has been made on nine planning applications in Gwynedd due to phosphates, and many have also been rejected. Applications for 26 houses (a mix of open market houses and affordable houses) in Bontnewydd, plus a development of 16 affordable houses in Dinas, Caernarfon are currently postponed.

Natural Resources Wales is carrying out a review of water company licenses against the revised phosphorus targets, and there is a target to complete the work by July 2024. Natural Resources releases the revised licenses as and when completed but there are no target dates for individual rivers. To date, no revised licenses have been issued in Gwynedd.

Gwynedd Council’s cabinet member who has responsibility for planning, Councillor Dafydd Meurig said: “We as a council are caught between two stones in this matter. On one hand, Natural Resources Wales is trying to reduce phosphate emissions into our rivers, and on the other, the emission targets for the waste treatment centres have been amended.

“Once the licenses have been reviewed and published by Natural Resources Wales, Dŵr Cymru can discuss the connections and capacity of their water treatment centre with us, as a Council, for the specific areas.

“Until that happens, our hands, as a planning authority, are tied. The one comfort we have, at the moment, is that phosphate levels in the Gwyrfai and Glaslyn rivers are currently within the target. Around 80% of phosphorus derives from Dŵr Cymru's treatment works at Gwyrfai, with 16% from rural land use.

“However, when looking at new applications, the Habitats Regulations clearly state that planning authorities must consider the effect of the phosphorus that may arise from new developments on water quality within the river catchment area.”

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  • Ffion Clwyd Edwards
    published this page in News 2023-12-07 15:13:24 +0000

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