19 November 2011

Residents against Swansea-Drydocks shipbreaking bid intensify battle:

MARINA residents are stepping up their fight against a planned shipbreaking firm in Swansea.

The public have until next Wednesday to submit comments to Environment Agency Wales (EAW) about Swansea Drydocks Ltd's plans.

The agency, which has already issued the company a draft permit, will then assess the responses before making a final decision.

If it awards a full permit, Swansea Drydocks will be ready to start its dismantling and repair operations at the city's Prince of Wales Dry Dock.

Despite bringing jobs, it would not be a popular move with the Maritime Quarter Residents' Association, which discussed the plans at its recent meeting.

Chairman Keith Evans said people were unaware of the potential hazards and risks he claimed the plans could pose to local lives, and accused the EAW of failing to consult the people of Swansea about the scheme.

"The consultation process meant that EAW inserted an announcement in the Evening Post that an application had been received to operate a shipbreaking yard," he said.

"They also made documents available at their offices in Llandarcy and at the Civic Centre, hoping that people would find out about this contentious application. Such actions could hardly, I believe, be called consultation with the people."

Mr Evans said the EAW would be better off fulfilling its vision of creating "a better place for people and wildlife, for present and for future generations" rather than awarding such a permit.

He felt there were concerns about how the impact of the operation would be measured, claiming the EAW would base any environmental impact on "baseline figures" compiled by Swansea Drydocks during the first shipbreaking contract.

Posters are being distributed to flats and homes in the marina and to businesses in SA1.

An EAW spokeswoman said: "The views of the community are important to us. We are currently in the middle of the second phase of consultation to give people the opportunity to highlight any issues which they feel we have not yet considered. As part of the initial consultation, we consulted with a number of local organisations and received over 50 comments from local residents. These have been considered in our draft decision.

"We have made a thorough assessment of this application and have set the highest environmental standards to make sure that the proposed facility will not pose a threat to local people or the environment."

Swansea Drydocks has spent money refurbishing the dry dock and has said it will create 85 jobs and launch a world-class recycling and repair facility. The firm declined to comment further.

Source: South Wales Evening Post. By Richard Youle (richard.youle@swwmedia.co.uk). 18 November 2011.

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