30 October 2011

City's cautious welcome for dry docks firm:

EASTSIDE politicians have welcomed the prospect of new jobs at the city's dry docks.

It comes after the Environment Agency said it was likely to award a permit to a ship breaking and repair company there.

But local councillors have also urged the agency to closely monitor the site at Phoenix Wharf when Swansea Drydocks begins operating, should a permit be issued.

St Thomas councillor Alan Robinson said: "Hopefully they (Swansea Drydocks) will fulfil the promises they are making.

"I wish them well, and I hope that they employ some local people and keep the place tidy. I am mindful we might get ships that no one else wants."

He said his only real concern was the site's proximity to a fertiliser storage plant. Swansea Drydocks has said any risk of explosion is considered to be insignificant and that fire breaks will be placed around combustible materials.

Fellow St Thomas councillor Mervyn Jones backed job creation but was not convinced a shipbreaking and repair yard was the best thing for the SA1 area.

"With the economic climate as it is any work is good — but at what cost?" he said. "As long as the Environment Agency keeps monitoring, that's fine."

An agency spokesman said: "We have given careful consideration to this application and we have drafted a permit which requires Swansea Drydocks to conform to the highest environmental standards and to operate in a way which will protect the community and environment."

The company has planning permission to use Phoenix Wharf. It said it was spending more than £1 million refurbishing the site and that ships for recycling would begin arriving as a permit had been obtained.

The long-term aim was to recruit and train a full-time workforce.

"The company aims to cover the full life cycle of a ship, from conducting surveys and ongoing repair and maintenance through to recycling," said a spokeswoman.

"We are committed to creating a world-class ship repair and recycling facility."

The firm's plans have caused some upset, though. Corinne McGill, of Port Tennant, said: "It's not good. We have got more than enough dirty industry in the docks."

Source: This is South Wales. By Richard Youle. (richard.youle@swwmedia.co.uk). 28 October 2011

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