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Warning that row over boulders used to block motorhomes could threaten beach Blue Flag

09 Jun 2021 4 minutes Read
Cllr Carwyn Jones at Llanddona Beach on Anglesey.

Gareth Williams, local democracy reporter

An ongoing beach access row needs to be sorted amid fears the stretch of sandy coast could lose its prestigious Blue Flag rating, a councilor has warned.

Llanddona is one of six island beaches to retain its Blue Flag, which is awarded annually by environmental charity Keep Wales Tidy.

But with the beach having hit the headlines recently for the placing – and later removal – of boulders amid concerns over campervans parking on the foreshore, the row needs a long-term solution, says one of the local members.

Cllr Carwyn Jones, who as well as representing the Seiriol ward also holds the authority’s tourism portfolio, welcomed Llanddona’s Blue Flag status for the 23rd year in a row but conceded that it was far from a certainty this time out and urged the Welsh Government to look at the growing popularity of wild camping.

“Keep Wales Tidy were obviously aware of the much-publicised issues faced in Llanddona and had been under pressure from some to withhold the flag,” he said.

“The Llanddona award was conditional on a site visit, which I attended, and it was agreed that the flag would be awarded but covering a reduced area.

“As a result, the area where all the issues we have seen this year has been taken out of the blue flag area, which now starts from Belan Wen.”

The rocks and boulders that were placed to stop vehicles from parking on a patch of land overlooking Llanddona beach

 

No one has stepped up to take responsibility for the placing of the boulders, but it is widely thought to have been the act of some nearby landowners in March.

It follows acknowledged frustration due to the beach’s popularity with campers, despite the very steep and extremely narrow road leading down to it.

But after a petition was signed by almost 5,000 people calling for the boulders to be taken away, last month saw the forced removal of the huge rocks by an army of tractors and diggers marshalled by local residents and cheered on by around 60 villagers.

‘Common ground’

Cllr Jones went on to say: “A lot has been said and done over the past few months.

“The situation and challenges are not easy and I get so many messages from all sides of the argument.

“There are issues with wild camping, which isn’t exclusive to Llanddona, but is something the Welsh Government needs to tackle as staycations become more popular.

“Anglesey has plenty of caravan parks and sites with hospitality facilities which need the business more than ever after the year they have endured due to covid.

“I know there are issues and strong views on campervans, parking, beach protection, biodiversity, fauna and flora etc.

“We may not agree with others but we must respect each other and the differing views.

“Having said that, I feel there is much more common ground than people realise. Ignoring the issues will not do any good if we want a Blue Flag over Llanddona next year.

“One thing we must be absolutely clear on is that this beach is for everyone and this has been the case for centuries, close to the hearts of everyone in Llanddona and beyond.

“The important factor is Llanddona has retained the Blue Flag.  We will have the seasonal warden, with her cabin base in place, and hopefully the car park will be resurfaced before the summer holidays.”

The other five island beaches to retain their Blue Flag status for 2021 were Benllech, Church Bay, Llanddwyn, Porthdafarch and Trearddur Bay.

As well as meeting environmental standards and tough international bathing water quality targets, Blue Flag beaches are judged to be those offering amenities including toilets and car parking and are also close enough for people to visit local villages and nearby towns.

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