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Bypass alternative for flood-hit village turned down

20 Feb 2024 4 minute read
Newgale. Photo by Diva Sian is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Bruce Sinclair Local Democracy Reporter

A councillor’s call to be able to speak on a potentially cheaper alternative to a bypass for a flood-hit village that has received national attention has been turned down.

At the standards committee meeting, of February 19, Solva County Councillor – and local businessman – Cllr Mark Carter asked for urgent dispensation to be able to speak, but not vote on matters connected with long-term plans for a Newgale road diversion scheme.

Cllr Carter has previously spoken as a local businessman and resident rather than as a county councillor.

David Cameron visit

Newgale was hit hard by flooding following storms in early 2014 storms, and later by Storm Dennis in 2020.

In 2014 it even saw a visit by the-then Prime Minister David Cameron, as part of a tour of the UK to “learn lessons” following storms and flooding that year.

The main A487 road was closed for about 14 days after waves breached pebble defences that year, and a Richards Bros bus was stranded in floodwater after it was hit by a high wave, leading to the rescue of around 10 passengers.

In 2018, Pembrokeshire County Council’s Cabinet backed a recommendation, long-term, for an inland highway link for the A487.

“Freak wave”

In his call for dispensation, Cllr Carter said: “Following an incident with a bus being hit by a freak wave in February 2014, a study was launched into a long-term solution to the threat of the sea defences at Newgale being breached and the connectivity to Solva and beyond alternative roads were considered and a preferred plan was formulated.

“Large sums of money, probably £2m have been spent investigating an alternative but since 2014 there have been no serious incidences,” Cllr Carter, who runs business Gengard Ltd from the village, said.

“Up to now, I have commented in relation to the Newgale scheme purely in my capacity as a business owner, but it is clear that no other residents of Newgale and further out want to change the fabric of Newgale and let it go back to wild.

“Two things have happened recently to change my perspective. Firstly, Pembrokeshire County Council has decided that should a new road be built, the old road would be removed straight away, not in some years to follow as previously planned. This changes the outlook for the village in a far more imminent way should the road scheme go ahead.”

“Secondly a group has been formed with access to a civil engineer and they are submitting a planning application to realign the pebbles in a way that will provide protection to the road and last 50-80 years at a cost of approximately £150,000, compared to the estimates of £30m by Atkins and PCC.”

Shingle bank relocation

Stand Up for Newgale (STUN) recently submitted an application – currently being validated by Pembrokeshire Coast National Park officers – to relocate a 570m section of the shingle bank 10m seaward to protect the local businesses and the A487.

Cllr Carter added: “The group wants me to be involved as the county councillor in negotiations with PCC to get the authority to consider this alternative scheme. It is they that have elected me and as property owners there is an impact, possibly not financial, on us all.

“To be clear, if the new road went ahead and the original road closed, the village would be split in two and Gengard would probably adapt its business.”

Committee members turned down Cllr Carter’s request, with four in favour of refusal, and two abstentions.

Areas of concern raised included a potential public perception that Cllr Carter’s views on the subject could be viewed as biased given his business interests, adding that, as local member, he would still have the opportunity to make any representations to national park planners.

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