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Controversial plans to double the height of a Cynon Valley chimney stack set to be rejected

CONTROVERSIAL plans to double the height of a Cynon Valley chimney stack look set to be officially rejected.

The plan from Enviroparks is to move the chimney stack at its waste resource recovery and energy production park on Hirwaun Industrial Estate and increase it from 45m to 90m in height and install an emissions monitoring system gantry with no other elements of the previously approved planning applications being altered.

And it is now going back before Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s planning committee for reasons for refusal to be decided after members of the committee voted to refuse the application against officers’ recommendations at a meeting on March 4.

This means it must now come back to the committee to confirm why they are opting to reject it and will do so on Thursday, March 25.

The committee voted to refuse the application because of the “adverse, detrimental and unacceptable” visual impact on the landscape and because it “compromises visual amenity.”

If the committee still wants to reject the application, officers have suggested they give the reason as being “The erection of a 90-metre high stack would constitute an incongruous and inappropriate development which has an adverse, detrimental and unacceptable visual impact on the landscape and compromises the visual amenity at this key gateway location to the county borough and the southern edge of the Brecon Beacons National Park” adding that it is considered to be “out of accord” with policies in the Local Development Plan (LDP).

More than 200 letters of objection and over 4,000 petition signatures opposing the development were submitted to the council with letters from the local MP Beth Winter and MS Vikki Howells also voicing their opposition.

The letters objecting to the plan said It would have a detrimental effect on the environment and have an impact on deprived communities.

They said It would be a pollution risk to the Penderyn Reservoir and emissions would affect the local communities and wider area dependent on weather conditions and the prevailing wind.

Objectors added that the volume of traffic and pollution would increase greatly due to the HGVs delivering to the site and that roads are already congested.

They said the erection of the stack would be a “monstrosity” and a “eyesore” within the landscape and not compatible with the surrounding area.

Opponents of the plans also said it would affect tourism and regeneration plans for the area and the pollution would be a significant worry for both the elderly and children as well as people with respiratory problems.

Another comment made was that the people of this area have suffered enough with heavy industry in the past which is now coming to an end and want to see more “clean” developments being undertaken, including tourism.

There was a concern raised that the stack will have an “unacceptable impact” on the Brecon Beacons National Park, the special landscape area and its impact on wildlife.

Officers had recommended approval highlighting that the only change proposed by this application relates to a minor relocation and increase (doubling) in height of the stack and some ducting associated with the revised location.

They said that all other aspects of the development remain unchanged and are not under consideration. The application falls to be determined under two principal criteria which are emissions and visual amenity.

The planning report said:

“In respect of emissions, this is something that is wholly governed by NRW (Natural Resources Wales) and will be the subject of an application under the Environmental Permitting Regulations (EPR).

“NRW has advised that, for the purposes of the planning application, the emissions modelled by the applicant are acceptable (and is actually lower than modelling for the scheme granted planning permission in 2019 suggested).

“EPR will cover all aspects of both human health and that associated with flora and fauna that can be susceptible to changes in atmospheric conditions (in particular, the Marsh Fritillary Butterfly and Devil’s Bit Scabious within the Blaen Cynon SAC).

“Without an approval under EPR, the development cannot become operational (and is therefore unlikely to be constructed/completed).

“In respect of visual amenity, neither NRW nor BBNPA (Brecon Beacons National Park Authority) have objected to the impact and an independent landscape consultant (White Consultants) has concluded that the impact while being significant, is also acceptable.

“The applicant’s proposal to ‘grade’ the colour of the stack and its location on the bottom of the valley floor means that the majority of views will be seen against the elevated landforms rather than the skyline, so any impacts are minimized.

“There are understandable concerns expressed by the letters received in objection, however, these concerns relate largely to issues that have previously been considered (and approved) by both RCT and the BBNPA on two separate occasions.”

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