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Biodiversity concerns raised over plans for new Cardiff railway station and business park

13 Jul 2023 4 minute read
Cardiff Parkway. Photo Wilkinson Eyre

Ted Peskett, local democracy reporter

Concerns have been raised about biodiversity at an area of land in Cardiff which has been earmarked as a potential site for a new railway station and business park.

On the final day of discussions during the Welsh Government’s call-in hearing of the Cardiff Parkway development, Friends of the Gwent Levels laid out its objections to the scheme being build on a site of special scientific interest (SSSI).

It is hoped the business park and railway station, proposed for land to the south of St Mellons Business Park, can attract investment into the area and improve connectivity between east and west Cardiff.

Cardiff Council ward member for Trowbridge, Councillor Michael Michael, called the development a “once-in-a-lifetime chance” and said the change it could bring to the east of the city “cannot be understated”.

Sustainable transport

Although in favour of a train station to encourage sustainable transport, the friends group argued that the business park should be built elsewhere.

Speaking at the hearing on Wednesday, July 12, Dr Catherine Linstrum of Friends of the Gwent Levels said: “We believe it is possible to avoid building on this SSSI… it can be avoided.”

The Rumney and Peterstone SSSI includes reeds and field ditches which host a wide range of plants and wildlife, including some rare species.

As part of a proposed mitigation for the area, the developer, Cardiff Parkway Developments Ltd, has offered an area of land in compensation for any loss to the SSSI.

Friends of the Gwent Levels was sceptical as to whether or not this would result in a net gain in biodiversity.

Dr Diana Callaghan of the group said: “The approach which is taken in this application is to focus on species listed as endangered or threatened. This whole site is an ecosystem.”

Dr Callaghan later added: “We don’t see how the compensation scheme ensures the resilience of this whole ecosystem.

“There is going to be a lot of human activity where there isn’t at the moment. There are a lot of assumptions here [that] the plans will resolve the resilience issues.”

A map of the proposed Cardiff Parkway development Picture: Arup

Plans for the Cardiff Parkway development were approved by Cardiff Council in April 2022 before being called in by the Welsh Government in October for being a development of national significance.

When the scheme was initially approved, the developer laid out a number of measures, which it said would minimise the impact of the development on biodiversity.

These include offering 4.4km of field ditches to the south of the railway development to replace the 3.96km of field ditches, which will be filled in if the project is given the all-clear by the Planning and Environment Decisions Wales (Pedw) inspector.

Diversity

An ecologist at Arup, Dr Pippa Wood, said the field ditches which are being lost on the site are either dry or ephemeral and the conditions on the proposed compensation land are “there to improve that diversity”.

She added: “You can always enhance an ecosystem.”

Town planner at Arup, David Brown said: “Habitats will be provided before the impact is had.”

Speaking on behalf of a number of Cardiff Council members representing wards in the east of the city, Cllr Michael said the Parkway development could transform one of the poorest areas of Wales.

He said: “This is a chance for Wales to lead in sustainable job and travel creation, let’s not let our future generations down by inward thinking.”

On ecological concerns in relation to the development, Cllr Michael said: “The sustainable urban drainage and the way meadows would be allowed to flood in the wet season and allow different species to flourish is to be commended in my view”

The Welsh Government said a final decision will be made on the development later this year.


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Cathy Jones
Cathy Jones
9 months ago

if companies could replace an “area of land in compensation for any loss to the SSSI” then we wouldn’t be facing global extinction (including us) because we could replace all of the irreplaceable lands we have lost to the kind of twisted and voracious scumbags that run companies like “Cardiff Parkway Developments Ltd”. My advice: Get someone to investigate links between any member of any counsellor’s family with Cardiff Parkway Developments Ltd. There WILL be a connection somewhere…and from there you will inevitably uncover which one of your own council has sold you out for a brown envelop with the… Read more »

Riki
Riki
9 months ago

Oh wow, what a shocker! More nonsense designed to keep Wales in the early 20th century. In terms of infrastructure that is!

John Hammond
John Hammond
9 months ago

I would never trust any property developer to meet any commitment or promise they have made in respect of environmental or cultural aspects.

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