Campaigners hit by new blow in battle to block homes bid
CAMPAIGNERS against controversial plans to build hundreds of new homes in Llanelli have been dealt another blow.
Proposals for two major housing developments in Llanelli have been on hold after cockle pickers voiced fears it could damage the environment of the Burry estuary — killing off large numbers of cockles due to excess sewage.
Residents near the Stradey Park site have also been trying to block the plans due to concerns over air pollution and flooding.
But on Thursday the group had its appeal for a judicial review into the plans — which would see 355 new homes at Stradey Park and 205 at Machynys West — rejected at the Court of Appeal. Cockler Thomas Hughes, 68, left the court in disgust following the judge's decision.
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Mr Hughes of Llanrhidian, who has been picking cockles for 40 years, took legal action in the High Court against decisions by Carmarthenshire Council to back the plans.
Lawyers for Mr Hughes claimed the projects won approval without full investigation of the possible environmental impact of large amounts of sewage flowing into the bay.
However, in January this year a High Court judge rejected his case, prompting Mr Hughes's latest challenge at the Court of Appeal in London.
Lawyers for the council insisted current evidence suggested the developments would have little impact on the water quality in Carmarthen Bay.
Mr Hughes's lawyers said he was not exclusively concerned with "cockle mortality", but with "water quality generally".
However, after several hours of intricate legal argument, Lord Justice Sullivan rejected the appeal.
The judge, sitting with Lord Justice Patten and Sir David Keene, said there was "no substance" to claims the county council failed to properly consider all potential "adverse impacts" before granting permission.
After the judgment, Mr Hughes said he believed, "there'll be a lot more sewage going into the bay now". His lawyers said the only option now open to him was to appeal to the highest court in the land, the Supreme Court.
A council spokesman said: "The authority welcomes the decision as a further endorsement by judges that the authority handled the process correctly.
"Whilst it is important to have checks and balances in the system they can often lead to lengthy delays, which in this instance date back to a decision made by Welsh Ministers in 2007.
"It is gratifying to see that the Court of Appeal saw no failure by the authority in its consideration of the developments."