Monday 21 January 2019

UPDATE : A New Future Plan for the Grillo Site, Burry Port? by Robin Burn

Robin Burn
It is now 10 years since the demolition of former Grillo zinc oxide production factory adjacent to Burry Port Harbour.   The former Grillo Site was sold and demolished in 2007 and the site has lain dormant since then and debris remains on the site. The site has , in its time been various metal working establishments finally up until its generation a site for Zinc Oxide manufacturing.

The site is contaminated with a cocktail of toxic metal, organic and inorganic compounds all with risk to public health.
Carmarthenshire County Council were aware, that, by allowing planning for housing development on that site, would trigger a call in by the Environment Agency, revoking Article 14 and Section 106 agreements.
In a Planning Committee on January 18 th 2011, the planning committee were advised by senior officers of Carmarthenshire County Council “that, as the Committee was minded to approve planning application S/18723, subject to the conditions detailed within the Report/Addendum of the Head of Planning and/or reported at the meeting, the Head of Planning be granted plenary powers to deal with any outstanding matters once the Article 14 Notice is withdrawn, or the application is called-in for determination, inclusive of the Appropriate Assessment being signed off by CCW within a reasonable time period from forwarding the same, in accordance with the provisions of Regulation 43(1) of the Conservation of Habitats & Species Regulations 2010 and inclusive also of a Section 106 Agreement”
In other words Carmarthenshire County Council accepted the fact that this development was on a Classified C2 floodplain.

In correspondence from the Environment Agency Wales, responsibility for monitoring the site and its associated ground water, is the developer. Camarthenshire County Council has been made aware of actions to be taken including post remedial monitoring of groundwater. The Environment Agency understands that ground water beneath the site is in continuity with open water within Burry Port Harbour.

The Environment Agency Wales would  continue to act as an adviser to the Local Authority for matters that could impact on ground or surface waters when requested.

In respect of the future development of the site, the site is proposed for residential purposes and some community asset, given the present economic restrictions and uncertain waste disposal system quality, should a change of use of the site be considered to one of emphasis on social and cultural asset?

The Llanelli Star has published articles based on the views of a number of elected Councillors of Pembrey and Burry Port Town Council.
These views, in favour of developing the Harbour Area to the proposed planning applications and that failure to do so would be detrimental to the future prosperity of Burry Port. The views vociferously expounded appear to be based on the principle that the proposed development area has never flooded and that the flood maps have now been changed to show, that the development areas are not on a flood plain.

Unfortunately this view, only supports a part of the facts surrounding the flood risks for these sites, and does not support the real facts as expounded by both Natural Resources Wales and Watermans
Both organisations have submitted their assessments of flood risk to Carmarthenshire County Council and can be accessed from the County’s Planning Applications sites, currently on line.

Firstly Natural Resources Wales, in their document, whilst they advise, that their Flood Map Information, updated shows the site to be flood free, they acknowledge, that Site 6 lies partially within the current C2 Zone as defined by the Development Advice Maps (DAM) referred to under Technical Advice Note (TAN)15 Development and Flood Risk (July 2004).
They qualify this statement by advising that their information does not take into consideration climate change allowances or blockages at structures through which flood water passes.

They go on to say” In accordance with TAN 15 the proposed development of up to 134 residential properties would be considered as highly vulnerable and should not be permitted within zone C2. However, if your authority are minded to consider the application it should be shown through the submission of an appropriate flood consequences assessment (FCA) that the consequences of flooding can be acceptably be managed over the lifetime of the development.

The NRW document makes reference to a Flood Consequences Assessment “Redevelopment of Burry Port-Sites 5&6 Flood Consequences Assessment Final. July 2014 Referenced 16025/FCA02A prepared by Waterman Transport and Development Ltd”
and submitted to the Authority forming part of the Planning Application documentation.

The document discusses Tidal Flood Risk and comments that the principle risk of flooding at the site is potential tidal flooding in the future. The principle cause is the effect of Climate Change in terms of tidal flood risk.

TAN 15 states that provision must be made for future changes in flood risk, specifically as a result of Climate Change. In this case flood risk must be considered over the anticipated lifetime of each development.
It is proposed to develop sites 5&6 for residential use; therefore a lifetime of development of 100 years has been assumed giving an assessment year of 2114, and as the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has produced guidance regarding sea level rises for 2114, sea level rise is 14.5 mm/year.

The FCA concludes that the site remains dry in the majority of the scenarios modelled, however the site is at risk of flooding during a 0.1% plus climate change annual probability tidal event and an extreme 0.5% annual probability tidal event plus climate change and with tidal levels at the upper extent of the confidence interval. The FCA therefore proposes mitigation in the form of raising ground elevations to 7.1 meters AOD to address flood risk. We accept that the proposed mitigation works effectively to create a plateau that remains flood free for all scenarios considered within the FCA.
The proposed mitigation increases flood risk on the B4311 to the west of the site and significant flood risk on the adjacent former Grillo site requiring mitigation by a similar raising of ground elevations to 7.1m AOD

To counteract the lack of suitable waste management facilities by Welsh Water, it should be made incumbent on the developer to incorporate all the current waste disposable systems that are environmentally sustainable and friendly into the plans for the build.

Site remediation continues to be priority, as no attempt has been made since demolition to clean up the site. This is now becoming a critical issue.
Remediation costs will be extensive, perhaps under current economic conditions beyond the means of any developer. The solution in this case is European funding backed by Welsh Government.

This solution would clear the ground for Community assets for cultural community and recreation to meet conditions of a Local Development Plan as well as creating employment opportunities for the local community. The site stands on a designated flood plain, the development called in by the Environment Agency on behalf of the Welsh Government to restrict the building of houses.
A buy back from the developer and clean up funded by Europe is a logical solution to a problem considered to be an ongoing one.

This was written in 2017, and the recent announcement that the site has been acquired by Carmarthenshire County Council is welcomed.

In communications on the 23rd of December with the Leader of the Council
Emlyn Dole , People First leader Sian Caiach questioned the validity of purchasing the site and pointing out that the authority would then take responsibility for the safety and site monitoring.

Councillor Dole was reminded that, site investigations would be required, for public safety, and the new calculations on likely sea level rise, much more than at the time of outline planning, means that this area may not be suitable for development at all. In his reply he says:

The Council has agreed terms to purchase the former Grillo site to promote its development to support the Council’s regeneration aspirations for Burry port and delivery of the Burry port Masterplan.  The purchase terms are commercially confidential and I am afraid, therefore, that I cannot divulge the purchase price. 

I can, however, confirm that the price agreed, subject to contract, takes into account remediation costs in terms of resolving any site contamination issues.  The price agreed is supported by independent valuation advice.  I can also confirm that on completion of the proposed purchase, the current owner, Castletown Estates Ltd, will have no further involvement with the development of this site.

Yours sincerely,

Cllr. Emlyn Dole

Leader of the Council

So the site has not yet been finally purchased and the whole matter is far from decided.

This has now created an ideal opportunity for public consultation to decide the future use of this harbour side piece of real estate.

It has been widely acknowledged for many years that an expansionist policy for house building was a preferred use of development land at the cost of degradation of the fishery in the Inlet and Estuary.
The opportunity has now been given to the authority to choose a different route as to the use of utilisation to the benefit of local residents.
There is no argument to the cleaning up of this derelict area to enhance the appeal of the Harbour .
Development has always been linked to a dwelling build programme, however the last attempt to enhance the frontage of the harbour with a mixed development of retail and dwelling was a failure, with a complete lack of interest by potential developers.

Innovative thinking is now must, local residents have to be consulted.

Robin Burn I Eng FIMMM

January 2019.


  1. You would think that the council would have stopped planning development of contaminated flood plain sites next to the sea after the Delta Lakes fiasco?

  2. HI Robin what is the latest re the redevelopment of the Harbours since it has fallen into private hands, I hear there are issues with that company not living up to its promises as well?

  3. Hi Gaynor,
    There are two issues that affect the harbour, firstly the harbour fabric, the walls and the approach to the lighthouse have had little or no repair since the major conversion to the marina. The second is the assault by the tides on viability of the marina and moorings. The inlet and approach to the harbour is influenced by accretion, which is unstoppable, and due to the fact that the sand in the inlet is of a fine quality the harbour contained is filling up with sand and again is unstoppable. Dredging is a regular requirement and is expensive to maintain the viability of the moorings. I am led to believe that dredging is on the list of things to do this year and the harbour infrastructure has been surveyed for required maintainance.I wonder whether or not that if the organisation were aware of the problems before the sale.
    Hope this helps


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