Padeswood cement firm under fire for closing monitoring station

Published date: 28 February 2014 |
Published by: Romilly Scragg 
Read more articles by Romilly Scragg  Email reporter


COMMUNITY leaders have slammed plans by a cement works to cut environmental monitoring.

Hanson Cement Works in Padeswood said they will remove a monitoring station next month after receiving the go-ahead from Natural Resources Wales last July.

A spokesman for Hanson Cement said the station was no longer necessary.

But county and community councillors have criticised the plans, saying the community needs and deserves the reassurance provided by the station on Abbot’s Lane, near Penyffordd Primary School.

Concerns raised by people living near the cement works prompted the Welsh Government to order an inquiry in 2010 which lasted two years.

In July 2012, inspectors from organisations including Public Health Wales, Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board and Environment Agency Wales announced they had found no evidence emissions from Hanson Cement resulted in a health hazard.

But chairman of the investigation response team Andrew Jones, of Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, said at the time that although some local people were reassured by the findings of the investigation, others continued to have concerns.

He said in order to rebuild trust, communication and engagement should be improved between Hanson Cement, public agencies, public bodies and the local community.

“We recommend that no further investigations into the concerns relating to the health of the local population are required, unless new evidence comes to light from routine monitoring and surveillance,” Mr Jones said.

The news the station would be removed was delivered to the Hanson Cement liaison committee, set up to improve community relations following the inquiry.

Committee member and Penyffordd Community Council chairman Cllr Colin Bithell described the decision as “completely unacceptable”.

Cllr Bithell, who is also a governor of Penyffordd Primary School, said his concerns were for the children of the village.

“The reason the monitor was put there was that it needed to be,” he said. “They were strategically placed and it’s in that particular place because the experts said that’s where it should be.

“If anything goes wrong, it means we’d know very quickly.

“Even if some of the others go, we insist this one stays.” He added: “They’ve just been through a big inquiry. I’d think that after the trouble they’ve had, it’s the least they could do to reassure the people in Penyffordd. It’s the sort of industry that needs careful monitoring.

“They said they needed to do continuous monitoring and they owe it to the people of Penyffordd.”

Hanson Cement spokesman David Weeks said the company had been given permission by Natural Resources Wales to remove the station as it was no longer needed.

“This is a monitoring station we put in about 12 years ago,” he said. “It was part of the permit for the factory’s new kiln. But it’s never shown any problems with air quality so we applied for a variation of the permit.

“We said to Natural Resources Wales this has never shown any problems, we’re doing all the relevant monitoring onsite, this is something we don’t need. And they’ve agreed.”

He added that the company had actually been given permission to remove the station last July but had delayed to allay any fears.

“We said we’d give it another six months to show there was nothing to be worried about,” he said. “No one needs to be concerned.”

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