Uproar over waste recycling facility at a disused Carmarthenshire quarry
Richard Youle, local democracy reporter
Dozens of people have objected to plans for a waste recycling and processing facility at a disused Carmarthenshire quarry.
They worry that dust and noise from Cilyrychen Quarry, near Llandybie, could blight them and that the area’s ecology could suffer, as well as protected sites nearby.
And they claim that water levels at the quarry lake – known locally as the Blue Lagoon – have dropped noticeably in recent weeks. This has prompted an investigation by environment body Natural Resources Wales (NRW).
A public meeting about the waste recycling and processing plans has been arranged at Llandybie, on September 2.
The application by Dolawen Cyf, which operates a civil engineering contracting business, said up to 50,000 tonnes of construction and demolition waste per year from development firm TRJ Ammanford would be graded at the quarry – with some of it crushed – and then used on construction projects.
Some stone would also be taken from an existing tip area by the quarry lake.
A planning statement accompanying the application said the proposal would not have any significant adverse impacts on the environment, human health, local amenity or the local transport network.
A proposed earth bund, combined with woodland planting would, it said, reduce “many of the visual changes”. It added that that the application was compliant with noise policy criteria.
The planning statement said there would be a loss of “potential sub-optimal dormouse habitat”, but that the planting and the earth bund would offset this in the longer-term.
But objectors, including Llandybie Community Council and Llandybie councillors Dai Nicholas and Anthony Davies, have responded in large numbers.
The community council said most lorries heading to and from the proposed business would pass through Llandybie, which it said had a busy crossroads and a 20mph zone outside the primary school.
Cllr Nicholas said increasing traffic on a narrow trunk with “a history of accidents is totally unacceptable to road users”.
He has asked to address Carmarthenshire Council’s planning committee when the application is determined, if there is a planning officer approval recommendation.
Cllr Davies has called on the council to undertake a full ecology and biodiversity investigation. He also raised concerns about the proposal’s potential impact on a nearby care home.
Resident Julie Morgan said the effect of the waste recycling and processing facility would make her home on Penpound Lane on the other side of the proposed bund, “worthless”.
She said a separately-operated cement plant at the quarry site meant there was already enough industrial activity taking place.
“A recycling plant should be put away from any residential areas,” she said.
Her husband Garry claimed that lorry movements at the quarry site since Dolawen Cyf had acquired it had created a carpet of fine dust earlier this summer.
“When there’s a dry spell, the slightest breeze whips up the dust and drops it here,” he said. “We have complained about it.”
The 62-year-old business owner said he has looked into buying noise and dust monitoring equipment to back up his concerns.
Mr Morgan said it would be “fair enough” if housing or self-contained industrial units were planned at the quarry site.
“There was talk about zip lines going there,” he said.
Ruth Davies, part of whose land borders the quarry, said the proposed seven-days-week operating times – albeit with reduced Sunday hours – would mean no “days off” for Llandybie.
She added that the growth of trees and scrub since quarrying stopped around 20 years ago had effectively extended the habitat of the adjacent Cernydd Carmel Special Area of Conservation.
The public meeting is due to take place at 7.30pm on September 2 at Llandybie’s Memorial Hall.
A spokesman on behalf of Dolawen Cyf said the application was going through the statutory consultation period, and that the concerns of the local community were noted.
He said: “The applicants, via their appointed consultants, will provide a comprehensive response in due course to the issues raised, which will aid the planning authority in its deliberations in the determination of this application.”
NRW is looking into the water level at the quarry lake.
NRW environment team leader Ian Williams said: “We’re been made aware of reports of water levels changing at Cilyrychen Quarry, and our officers are currently investigating.”
Dolawen Cyf declined to comment when asked about the water level.