Sunday 20 July 2014

Just keep washing your hands - European Court wants explanations!

The Loughor Estuary / Burry Inlet, the scenic sand banked estuary between South Carmarthenshire and North Gower [supposedly a highly protected EU Natura site] has been polluted by raw sewage since a new sewage treatment system was installed in 1997. Commissioned to be a improvement, a miscalculation meant that it quickly became overwhelmed and was forced raw sewage discharges of increasing volumes as the area built thousands more homes. In the recent tradition of devolved Welsh government on all levels, all problems were denied and accusations rebutted.The County Council's policy on development involved building homes on a grand scale in order to earn handsome s106 payments from the big developers, the Welsh Government and its employees, the Environment Agency, had to prove that Wales could run itself  and Welsh Water/Dwr Cymru didn't have the money and couldn't clear up the mess. All denied the problem. The Environment Agency initially allowed the discharge of raw sewage, especially after areas of Llanelli suffered back flow flooding of their homes. Now we have to pump it out if pressure builds, as gravity isn't fast enough.

The cockles died, first in gradually increasing numbers but since 2005 in impressive mass death events every summer where countless animals try to rise from the poisoned sands to die with their bodies rotting in open shells. The sand banks appear to become shingle and the salt wind over the water carries the stench of death.

 Last month the infringement negotiations at the between the E.U. Commission and the UK government proceeded to a threat of prosecution of the UK at the European Court. Negotiations, investigations and hollow promises to correct the pollution by tweaking the system have led to a 2 month ultimatum. The problem is so bad that the raw sewage is now being discharged in normal weather, not just after heavy rains. The cockles continue to die every summer. What was a good commercial fishery throughout the year reduced to a poor crop for a few weeks only. Wales' only sustainable fishery was flushed away by greed and embarrassment.

The EU were not tipped off  by any of the agencies we pay to protect our environment. The County Council decided to stop testing their worst affected beaches in 2009, presumably not to frighten the tourists with the promise of a close encounter with human excrement? If a beach is not a "designated" bathing beach there is no obligation to test. Successive Welsh Environment Ministers have been fully informed, looked shocked and turned away. The water authority WW/DC has made plans for various AMP's [Asset Management Plans] to try to offload the sewage works and reduce bacteria in the water, none of which seem to perform to expectations. And still, until now, Carmarthenshire Council continue to authorise the building of new homes and play down the prospect of the Gower View with the summer whiff of death as, from a distance, the sandbanks turn to shingle and the  cocklers frantically sieve the remaining areas for living shellfish before the inevitable carnage hits the whole area.

The complaint to the EU was made by the chair of a local residents association and the cockle hand gatherers. Through years of denials and the fog of reports commissioned by the accused to try to prove the cockles die from e.g viruses, parasites, global warming, too much sex, unexplained mass suicide and anything that is not the product of regularly dumping human fertiliser in an estuary it takes 6 tides to clear.

Last week the cockles started dying......................and only the EU Commission seem to care!

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