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Urgent action is needed to overcome river phosphate issues impacting development and the economy, Ceredigion councillors have agreed.

At virtual meeting of full council on Thursday (September 23) councillors were asked to give final approval to allow delegated power to determine planning applications that do not comply with the phosphate directive received after June 1, 2021.

During discussion of the phosphate levels a number of councillors raised concerns about the impact on development in the county and the knock-on effect on the local economy with a call for Dwr Cymru/Welsh Water and Natural Resources Wales (NRW) to find a solution quickly.

Council leader Cllr Ellen ap Gwynn said that a nitrate management board had been set up, like other areas of the country, where officers would discuss with Dwr Cymru and NRW to “discuss the way forward to improve the situation.”

Cllr ap Gwynn added the issue was delaying “important developments,” including social housing that is “being hindered in large parts of the county.”

Complaints were raised that there was no detail available about how the Afon Teifi survey was carried out nor how other areas contributing to pollution including land management and private sewerage systems, as well as Dwr Cymru’s own systems were mitigating the issue.

Cllr John Roberts said: “We are being penalised when every river authority is allowed by the Welsh assembly to dump raw sewage into the rivers whenever it rains heavily,” adding the problem can’t possibly just be with housing.

“It’s extraordinary that one body, that’s not part of any government, has sterilised half of Ceredigion, with some work, with evidence we haven’t even seen to be able to question or scrutinise,” said Cllr Rowland Rees Evans.

Chairman of the development control committee Cllr Lynford Thomas told members there were currently five applications delayed by the lack of delegated powers, with the council also approving a recommendation that applications received before June 2021 be held in abeyance until clear guidance is available.

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