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Land transfer approved for Bryncethin and Brynmenyn

Land near Brynmenyn Industrial Estate Where The Hydrogen Facility Could Be Built (Pic: Google Maps)

BRIDGEND County Borough Council has agreed to proposals for the Corporate Joint Committee of Cardiff Capital Region to purchase land in the Brynmenyn and Bryncethin area.

The areas described as “surplus land” are made up of two sites, with one known locally as the clay pits, that features over 43 acres of land, and a second consisting of four acres close to Brynmenyn Industrial Estate.

Cabinet members in attendance at a meeting on March 12, heard how these would be needed for the proposed Hybont Green Hydrogen Project, which have been brought forward by energy developer Marubeni over the last two years.

The plans, if given the go-ahead would include a hydrogen production facility with electrolyses that generate hydrogen from electrical power by splitting water, along with hydrogen storage, and a hydrogen refuelling station on the land.

They have led to an enormous backlash from residents in the area with protests held outside the council’s offices last year, over what they said was a lack of clarity and safety concerns with the facility’s proximity to local housing in the village of Bryncethin.

Hybont Protestors (Pic: Lewis Smith LDR)

Bridgend Council had pulled out of the project last year due to financial restrictions, however, developers at Marubeni Europower Ltd said they would still go ahead with the application, with the report showing that the Cardiff Capital Region was interested in becoming a “key partner.”

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The report read: “Since the withdrawal of BCBC from the project, CCR is now considering being a key partner and investor in the project and is currently applying the rigours of due diligence and reviewing the business case and investment potential.

“CCR’s interest in this green hydrogen project is borne from the likelihood it will be a key part of the energy mix, as they aim to decarbonise the south east Wales industrial economy and it could also provide investment and job creation in the local economy. The project will be subject to several variables being in place such as planning permission and operators licensing and permitting.”

Officers said the site would be sold on the basis that planning permission was granted for the project, potentially fetching a price of over £1 million. It was also revealed that a protocol would be put on the sale meaning if the project was not given permission to go ahead then the land would be sold back to the local authority.

A special meeting is now expected to take place at the end of April, 2024, where Bridgend’s planning authority will decide on whether to approve the controversial plans or not, though it was noted that this decision could still be taken out of the hands of the council if the Welsh Government decided to call it in.

Council leader Huw David said: “Bridgend County Borough Council was previously involved with the Hybont Green Hydrogen Project alongside CJC, Welsh Government and Marubeni Europower Limited, but we withdrew due to a challenging financial outlook and an inability to meet significant financial commitments.

“While we still have a role to play as a local planning authority and as the relevant land owner, it is important to note that our cross-party Development Control committee remains impartial, and makes decisions based purely on planning law and the specific merits of an application.

“At the same time, the cabinet recognises that if it is successful, the Hybont project could support fresh investment and new jobs, and play a key role in helping to decarbonise the south-east Wales industrial economy.

“On this basis, CJC is now considering acting as a key partner and investor in the Hybont project, and our decision to engage in a land transfer with them builds in a number of safeguards that will ensure the land in question remains in public ownership, and cannot be transferred or disposed of to a third party or a private sector organisation.”

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