Green light for removal of Wrexham landmark

Reporter:

Matt Sims

WORK to remove one of the region’s most famous industrial landmarks could begin in three months.

The Welsh Assembly has overturned on appeal a decision by Wrexham Council to prevent the removal of tonnes of burnt shale at the former Bersham Bank Colliery site in Rhostyllen.

It means the company involved, West Midlands-based Bersham (Glenside) Ltd (BGL), can now begin to clear the site although the firm has said it is keen to preserve historic elements such as original headgear and listed buildings.

BGL technical director Mike Killett said that “all things being equal” work could begin in about three months.

He said the total cost of the project would run into millions of pounds, adding the setting up of rail sidings alone would be considerable.

Welsh historic monuments agency Cadw had asked that the iconic spoil heap be preserved as it was one of the few remaining of its kind.

The 6m tonnes of spoil could be sold on to the construction industry and would take between seven and nine years to remove.

Bersham Colliery closed in 1986, with the loss of 300 jobs.

Brymbo county councillor Paul Rogers said: “It is not surprising there are concerns in the Rhostyllen area about the removal of this landmark and I share the concerns about the potential effects this may have to the amenity of nearby residents and road users.

“I would hope that throughout this process there is due consideration for residents in the surrounding communities.

“It is now more vital than ever that historic elements to the site are preserved and receive adequate investment.”

The scheme would first of all see the removal of waste on the southern part of the site which would then enable tracks to be put down so the remainder of the material could be removed by rail.

The original proposal was amended by BGL before the appeal to include the retention of part of the tip.

BGL has been told it must pay towards the costs of refurbishing the former winding gear house.

The Assembly document, by planning inspector Clive Nield, reads: “It is not disputed that the loss of the tip would harm the setting of the adjacent Bersham Colliery headgear and buildings.

“The headgear is a scheduled ancient monument and Grade II* listed building; the winding gear engine house is a Grade II listed building and the baths/canteen/ offices building is also Grade II listed.

“(BGL) has put forward an amended scheme to retain part of the tip next to those buildings and structures.

“This would continue to provide a suitable setting for general appreciation of the mining heritage features, albeit that the tip itself would be much smaller and not in its original scale and form.

“Cadw has considered this to be an acceptable compromise.”

It adds: “In assessing the wider visual effects, one must also remember that most
of the tip has been deposited during the 20th century and appears as an alien feature in the original landscape of relatively flat agricultural land.

“In this respect its removal might be seen to improve rather than detract from the older historic landscape.”

Concerns regarding potential noise and air pollution are addressed satisfactorily in BGL’s environmental statement, Mr Nield’s report adds.

Speaking about concerns about potential noise, air or dust pollution, Mr Killett said: “With the working plan that has got to be developed we will be looking at establishing controls and procedures to control noise abatement, dust control and we will be monitoring the noise and dust emissions and take every reasonable step to keep control of dust.”

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