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Housing estate plan approved despite methane gas concerns

Some of the many houses already built at Parc Ceirw, Swansea (Pic: Edenstone Homes)

THE FINAL phase of large housing estate at a former quarry and landfill site in Swansea has been given the go-ahead despite concerns about escaping methane.

Two members of Swansea Council’s committee said they wouldn’t live in the 19 houses and flats in question because, according to Natural Resources Wales (NRW), elevated levels of methane have been detected between the former landfill site and the area where the properties are to be built. Welsh Water, meanwhile, raised water supply concerns.

But the committee went on to approve the application for the site in Cwmrhydyceirw after hearing about pre-existing planning controls in place to deal with these issues.

The 19 houses and flats are the final phase of a 300-home development, called Parc Ceirw. Developer Edenstone Homes said two-thirds of the houses were already occupied.

A report before the committee said Edenstone Homes originally planned to build 29 houses and flats on the southern side of the quarry basin but scaled it back to 19. They will all be classed as affordable homes.

The report said NRW did not object to the application but did raise concerns about methane levels. It said: “We (NRW) have been informed that proposals are currently being prepared to investigate ways of controlling the landfill gas migration. If these proposals are accepted, the gas control measures will be trialled to determine whether adequate landfill gas controls can be achieved. If successful the method could then be formally adopted at the site.”

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The work to deal with the methane is being done by the company which holds an environmental permit for the site, rather than Edenstone Homes, in accordance with a condition when outline planning permission for the wider site was granted on appeal in 2018.

The issue will need to be addressed satisfactorily before any of the 19 houses and flats can be built.

NRW and the council also require assurances that landscaping proposed as part of the remaining development does not penetrate the membrane capping the landfill.

Addressing the committee, ward councillor Andrea Lewis said nobody really knows what had been dumped in the landfill site and that she was concerned about the gas levels. “Some confidence is needed about how the methane is dealt with,” she said.

Cllr Sara Keeton said the 19 houses and flats could be “a step too far” in the overall redevelopment of the site.

Cllr Peter Black said: “Frankly I would not live in one of these houses.” He also questioned the proposed method of flaring the methane, suggesting there were less environmentally-damaging ways of disposing of it.

Cllr Mary Jones said she too would not want to live in the properties. “I think there’s going to be problems from drainage, gas, cold and damp,” she said.

A planning officer reiterated the existing planning condition relating to landfill gas, and told the committee there had been no objections on drainage grounds. He added that Welsh Water had powers of its own to ensure that a sufficient water supply was provided. He acknowledged the points raised, but said: “Officers come to the conclusion that there is no clear evidence of harm which can be identified at this stage.”

The committee also heard the applicant had paid various contributions set out in a planning agreement with the authority, including education payments of £750,000.

After further debate the committee voted in favour of the planning department’s recommendation of approval, with 10 in support and no objections or abstentions, although one councillor following proceedings online was unable to vote due to IT problems.

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