Residential development at Heol-y-Glyn, Glynneath – statement from Council Leader, Cllr Rob Jones
22 October 2020
There has been a great deal of rumour and misinformation on social media in particular about the planning permission that was granted on 14th September 2020 (under application ref. P2020/0195) for residential development on land South of Heol Y Glyn, Glynneath, that requires further explanation and clarification.
The level of rumour and misinformation and allegations against officers and councillors have called into question the council’s role in this application and as such a statement is necessary in this regard.
The site in question is allocated for residential development in the council’s Local Development Plan and has had historical planning permission for residential development dating back to the 1990s.
During and since the determination of the planning application, serious allegations have been directed at the council and shared online and via social media. They insinuate that there has historically been illegal tipping of asbestos and toxic waste on the site. They also include serious and unsubstantiated allegations about the conduct of officers and councillors, stating that the Planning Department has colluded with the former site owners to hide contaminated land, which would constitute a breach of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.
We are now issuing this formal response to publicly clarify matters relating to the site.
The council takes its responsibilities with regards to ground contamination very seriously. The council is satisfied that it has not at any point contravened its duties under this legislation. Allegations that the council has colluded with a former owner to ‘hide’ contamination are false and malevolent.
The most recent planning permission for the site was issued following lengthy consideration by councillors on the Planning Committee, with expert planning and land contamination advice being provided. The advice took account of the extensive submissions expressing concern about contamination and its impacts, with representatives of the objectors presenting their views to the Planning Committee in line with the council’s Public Speaking Protocol.
The merits of the planning application were therefore openly and extensively debated in public, and all matters relating to land contamination at the site were considered in significant detail. This included any matters that might relate to the need to address any contamination that might have arisen from historical tipping, and the need to ensure the site is appropriately remediated for the proposed residential use.
In this respect, and noting the serious allegations made against the council, we would emphasise that both Natural Resources Wales and the council’s officers are satisfied that:
- The levels of contamination at the site are not unusual or dangerous, and
- There are no reasonable grounds to conclude that the site could not be remediated through the conditions attached to the planning permission.
In addition, the planning conditions imposed a formal mechanism to deal with ‘unexpected contamination’. Moreover, the development of the site will now be the catalyst for works which will ensure that any contamination at the site will be remediated in the near future.
Officers will now continue to work with the prospective developers to ensure that all conditions relating to the identification and remediation of land, and subsequent verification of such works, are complied with.
These very serious allegations about the conduct of officers and councillors (of all political parties), both in the past and current, are clearly based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the role of the planning process on remediating contaminated land. They are without substance and they will be robustly defended.