A MULTI-million pound scheme to extend Llangollen Railway through to Corwen is being held up by red tape, its president has claimed.
The top regional tourist attraction, which presently runs steam and diesel trains for seven miles alongside the picturesque River Dee from Llangollen to Carrog, last year announced a £4.6 million plan to extend the track by another two miles to Corwen.
But railway trust president William Shakespeare says the take-up of a £1.5 million grant from the Welsh Assembly Government is being delayed – by the Welsh Assembly Government itself.
Before the track extension can go ahead the railway needs a Transport and Works Order (T&WO) which it applied for last September. Six objections were made, one of which came from the Countryside Council for Wales (CCW).
Mr Shakespeare said despite all the objections being successfully dealt with the Welsh Assembly Government has now insisted two supplementary reports submitted by the railway to CCW, dealing with environmental issues, be made available for public consultation.
The railway has now done this but is concerned that the 42-day consultation period – plus the time to allow Welsh Ministers to consider the T&WO – might cause them to over-run the deadline for taking up the £1.5 million grant at the end of August.
Mr Shakespeare said: “We haven’t got all the money we need to pay for the extension scheme so the grant is vital to us. If we miss the deadline it could delay the scheme by several years. We might have the T&WO but we would have to go through the whole application process again.”
He added: “Everyone, including the Welsh Assembly Government and the county council, is keen to see us reach Corwen as soon as possible to help the economic revival of the town.”
A Welsh Assembly Government spokesperson said: “Although it would appear from the Trust's statement that all objections have now been withdrawn, we have not been notified by all the objectors.
“Until the Welsh ministers have written confirmation of the withdrawal, that objection has to remain.
“In the meantime, Assembly government officials have been carrying out the procedures necessary to process this application, including the assessment of an environmental statement submitted in October 2009.
“The advertising of the supplementary documents submitted in addition to the environmental statement was not carried out until the adequacy of the environmental statement had been resolved in March 2010.
“This was because further information could have been required for the environmental statement which would also have had to be advertised. Welsh Ministers will make their decision as soon as possible once the advertisement period has ended.”
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