PUBLIC INQUIRY SUMMER 2011
In July, the Public Inquiry into the fourth application of Western Power (WPD) to construct 324 properties in the reservoir was re-opened. It ran for three weeks and considered two new issues:
- the proposal to bring all the traffic generated by the development out onto Lisvane Road along a widened Sailing club lane. (This time there was no proposal for a road across the meadows to the Cyncoed Road roundabout) and
- the designation in 2009 of the reservoir structure as a Listed Building.
At the Inquiry, Cardiff Council again defended its refusal of Planning Permission. RAG mounted a strong case based mainly on Open Space policy grounds, highway safety and amenity, and damage to the Listed Structure and its setting. We appointed leading London Counsel, Anthony Dinkin QC and other expert witnesses to present our evidence. They all performed well against the battery of experts wheeled out by WPD. The Inquiry Inspector is due to present his recommendations confidentially to the Welsh Minister, John Griffiths AM, on 12th April. The Minister will then take the final planning decision, which is expected in May / June.
FUNDRAISING IN 2011
The costs of the inquiry were considerable. Although many people helped us by giving their time for free, or at discounted rates, it still wiped out all of our reserves. However, due to the generosity of our membership (including two very large donations), and sterling fundraising efforts led by our Treasurer Dulcie Wilks, we were able to meet all our commitments by the end of autumn.
The fundraising is continuing to help replenish our funds. There have been many community activities such as garden parties, cake and jam making, plant sales, coffee mornings, sales of artwork and also of our own Christmas cards and calendars featuring members’ photos. There was the long distance walk in which 130 people, including politicians of all persuasions, took part, the Bridge Drive organised by Lisvane Bridge Club, and the sale of paintings and pottery by our local artist Molly Curley. Phil Bale also made a sponsored climb of Mount Kilimanjaro. A huge thank you to all.
REFILLING THE RESERVOIR
In 2008 the Council obtained a High Court Judgement to extend their lease from WPD to use the water at Llanishen reservoir for sailing and canoe training as they had done very successfully for several decades. During the recent Inquiry, and contrary to WPD’s claims, the Council submitted evidence that they have retained their budget and intend to resume sailing training at Llanishen once water levels have been restored. A clause in their lease provides that once the temporary draining for engineering inspections had been completed (in Nov, 2010) the reservoir should have been slowly refilled by rainwater. WPD have so far refused to comply with this requirement, so a legal injunction would seem to be required to affect a refill.
The Council has sought legal opinion on the best timing of such an injunction and has been advised that it should wait until the Minister has made his decision on the current appeal process. Although disappointing to see the reservoir kept empty for another year by WPD’s cynical action, the Council should be in a position to enforce its lease through the courts later in the year.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
When the Minister comes to make his decision on the development proposals, he will consider carefully the recommendations of the Inspector. He cannot consider any new objections not put to the Public Inquiry. However he can to come to his own conclusions on what weight should be attached to the competing planning interests emerging from the Inquiry. With the new word ‘localism’ being high on the national agenda, it is important that as many local people as possible let our elected Welsh Government Members know what we think of WPD’s plans to destroy the tranquillity of our local Nant Fawr open space corridor.
Our local Assembly Members will pass your letters and Emails on to the Minister so that he will be aware of the weight of public local opinion against the development proposals. So please write or email Julie Morgan AM for Cardiff North at firstname.lastname@example.org and Jenny Rathbone AM for Cardiff Central at email@example.com. Both can be mailed at:
- Points to make include:-
Large scale urbanising development in this river valley corridor is contrary to the Council’s established planning policy.
- The development would damage the special character and setting of one of Wales’s most recently designated Listed Structures.
- There is a suitable and sensitive alternative use for the reservoir for sailing and fishing. The Council have a lease to use the water for such a purpose.
- WPD’s own engineer confirmed that the structure is sound and safe to hold water, and that it should not need any major repair works for 50 to 60 years.
- Please urge Julie Morgan and Jenny Rathbone to ask the Minister to uphold the status of the site as a strategic open space and as a designated Listed Building by rejecting WPD’s appeal.
RAG’s PLANS FOR 2012 and BEYOND
Over the last ten years, RAG’s campaign has often involved responding to events imposed on us – new planning applications, public inquiries, High Court actions etc. Experience has shown that such events often cannot be anticipated and that WPD will try any tactic to achieve their ends.
Looking ahead, if this current appeal by WPD is rejected what then might happen? Will WPD continue its campaign with yet another legal challenge? Will the company start questioning the amount of money it has thrown at it? We need to be prepared financially for any eventuality.
But what if WPD were to concede defeat? In that case the situation would change radically. We would need to work with Cardiff Council to establish public ownership of the reservoirs. If this was successful, then RAG’s funds could be used for positive rather than defensive actions to ensure the survival of the reservoir within the Nant Fawr corridor.
Western Power Distribution may be getting nervous about the possibility of their current access proposals at the Sailing Club Lane being rejected. We have just learned that a mysterious photographer has been seen in South Rise close to the junction with The Rise. There is no evidence of who this was, but could it be that the search for an alternative access route into the reservoir site is already underway in preparation for yet another planning application? This is another reason why RAG must remain strong and vigilant.
The need for your continuing support and generosity is therefore still crucial.
January is the time when your £5:00 subscription is due. It is now possible to renew your membership or make donations online via our website, click here.
Alternatively, please click here to download a PDF of this newsletter including a membership payment slip. Please return this slip to Dulcie Wilks, 18 Ewenny Road, Llanishen, Cardiff. CF14 0NT.
For subscription enquiries please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or phone Dulcie on 029 2075 1976.
Please click here to download a PDF of the newsletter including a nomination form.