Village misery as inadequate sewage system at Welsh hotel causes a bit of a stink
Richard Evans, local democracy reporter
A Conwy valley village has been left stinking due to a hotel not having proper sewage connectivity.
The Hilton Garden Hotel in Dolgarrog opened last year, but locals living in the village have had their lives blighted by the smell of raw sewage – for over ten months.
That’s because the four-star hotel isn’t yet connected to the main sewage line. Instead, tankers visit the hotel twice a day to pump away sewage and carry it away.
Welsh Water has work scheduled next week to connect the hotel, but the Local Democracy Reporting Service understands an ongoing land-access dispute means the work is not guaranteed to be carried out.
Andrew Baker is the managing director at the Hilton Garden Hotel and Adventure Park Snowdonia. Mr Baker said he sympathised with villagers, admitting that pumping the sewage away had cost the company £300,000.
“Since the hotel was constructed last year, and it came into operation in May 2021, due to the issue with connecting to the mains of the sewage system, the business has paid to have the sewage tanked and taken away,” he said.
Double edged sword
“Up until the end of February, that has cost the business close to £300,000, and that has seriously affected not only the profitability but the viability of the project.
“We’ve been working tirelessly to get this over the line, and it is due to start on Monday, and I hope that is the case. We are told it is going to be the case. From the business point of view, it is affecting greatly the business, but also, it is straining our relationship with the community, which we are part of.
“Obviously they (the villagers) have been talking to everybody about the tanker being a nuisance. It’s something we don’t want, and it is costing us, so it’s a double-edged sword.
“I’m here most days of the week. Whether I’ve become immune to the smell, I don’t know. I don’t get a bad smell, but I’m not standing outside when the tanker is visiting every day, and you will get an odour when the lid is off and it is pumping out. If the wind is in the right direction, our community in the village will get some of that.”
He added: “As you know, with all the other challenges businesses are facing currently, particularly with energy, we don’t need the issue with the tanker cost.”
“We expected a short period (after construction) in which we would have to tanker, but that would be six to eight weeks. It was never going to be 12 months.”
Barry Smith is also a director at Adventure Park Snowdonia.
“We’ve been in discussion with Welsh Water for some time to connect the network,” he said.
“The work is scheduled to commence on Monday 14 March. There is a scheduled proposal of work.
“We’ve kept a good relationship with the local community. As a business, we’ve been working tirelessly to try and resolve this issue with Welsh Water, which has finally come to fruition, and we thank the locals for their patience.”
Cllr Goronwy Edwards said he had reported the matter to the council’s environmental enforcement team.
“The Dolgarrog hotel has been a problem,” he said.
“It’s been open now for nearly a year, and they still haven’t been able to resolve the situation with the sewage.
“Every time it’s pumped from the surface tanks into the tankers, there’s a foul smell lingering in the village. They keep on promising that the connection will be made. It was part of the planning consent that they would be connected to the main sewers.
“I’ve had the smell in my ward because the tankers come through the Caerhun ward. But for the people living in Dolgarrog, it’s a daily problem.”
He added: “The foul smell is happening every day, twice a day, and it is becoming a real problem. People have accepted it (tanking) as a temporary solution, but obviously, it has gone on for a long time. It is a serious issue. I’ve reported it to the council’s enforcement department. But after all this time, as you can imagine, it is pretty intolerable.”
A spokesman for Welsh Water commented: “We are aware that the Hilton Garden Inn is not yet connected to the mains sewerage system. When the planning application for the hotel was made, we advised that the local network didn’t have the capacity to accept the additional flows from the hotel without it having a negative impact on the services to our existing customers in the area.
“The developers of the hotel proceeded with its construction aware of this, and we have been liaising with them to keep them updated on when we will be able to permit them to connect to the network.
“The work needed to be undertaken to connect them has been delayed due to unforeseen circumstances with land that needed to be crossed; however, the work is now set to begin this Monday.”
Conwy County Council was contacted for a comment.
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