‘A wall too far for a road too nar­row’

Caernarfon Herald - - NEWS - An­drew For­grave

FOR cen­turies vis­i­tors have ad­mired views of Llyn Cwellyn, an Ice Age lake near Snow­don that has been cel­e­brated by artists and writ­ers from JM Wil­liam Turner to Ge­orge Bor­row.

Like other lakes in Snow­do­nia, Llyn Cwellyn is open for all to see. It is most ac­ces­si­ble at its north­ern end where it is abut­ted by a road, leav­ing a half-mile long strip of lake­side land that is too nar­row to cul­ti­vate.

Now, how­ever, a row has erupted over a new wall be­ing built along­side the road.

At al­most 6ft high, the slate wall is be­ing erected right on the edge of the nar­row A4085, fu­elling con­cerns for road safety as well as loss of lake ac­cess.

The struc­ture was com­mis­sioned by tech millionaire Lawrence Jones, who hopes to pro­mote lo­cal tourism by cre­at­ing a bou­tique ho­tel at Castell Cidwm, the prop­erty he owns next to Llyn Cwellyn.

Among the wall’s de­trac­tors is Dafydd Jones, chair­man of Eryri Ram­blers, who said it was not just in­ap­pro­pri­ate, it was a dan­ger to road users.

“It is a mon­stros­ity, a blot on the land­scape,” he said.

“I’ve lived in this area all my life and it is a beau­ti­ful part of the world that draws vis­i­tors from all over.

“Many like to visit the lake but now won’t be able to reach its banks to ob­serve the beau­ti­ful views.

“The wall is be­ing built from slate and while I sup­port the use of lo­cal ma­te­ri­als, it is out of keep­ing with the area – all other walls in the val­ley are built from stone.

“More­over, the wall is be­ing built too close to the Tar­mac, en­clos­ing the road on both sides. Walk­ers and cy­clists won’t be able to dodge the traf­fic, rais­ing se­ri­ous ques­tions about road safety.”

Crit­ics have also high­lighted the al­leged dam­age be­ing done to lake­side habi­tats while the wall is be­ing built.

The north eastern side of Llyn Cwellyn is a Spe­cial Area of Con­ser­va­tion and op­po­nents fear the work is com­pro­mis­ing the shore’s un­spoilt and semi wild na­ture.

Nat­u­ral Re­sources Wales (NRW) has is­sued an en­vi­ron­men­tal per­mit for the work. This has a num­ber of clauses, in­clud­ing a ban on cut­ting trees in the bird nest­ing sea­son.

Huw Jones, an NRW team leader, said he was un­aware of any per­mit com­pli­ance is­sues at Llyn Cwellyn.

He added: “This area is im­por­tant for the wildlife that lives here, for fish­ing, re­cre­ation and the tourist econ­omy in an area which lo­cal peo­ple value.

“We will work with the de­vel­oper to en­sure that the right per­mis­sions and con­struc­tion meth­ods are in place to pro­tect the en­vi­ron­ment while this work is car­ried out.”

How­ever it is the high­ways is­sue that has most alarmed some liv­ing in the val­ley.

Orig­i­nally built for horse­back traf­fic, the A4085 nar­rows in some sec­tions along­side the lake, and con­cerns have been ex­pressed about driv­ers of large ve­hi­cles try­ing to pass each other, as well as blind spots for other road users.

One walker, who ask not to be named, said it may pose a threat to users of the nearby Snow­don Ranger youth hos­tel, where park­ing ca­pac­ity was re­cently in­creased to 24 spa­ces.

He said: “For pedes­tri­ans or cy­clists, there will be no strip of grass to es­cape an on­com­ing ve­hi­cle – just a high wall and no sanc­tu­ary.”

Snow­do­nia So­ci­ety and Betws Gar­mon Com­mu­nity Coun­cil are mon­i­tor­ing the sit­u­a­tion, while Gwynedd Coun­cil is keep­ing a watch­ing brief.

A spokesman for the lat­ter said: “We are aware of the mat­ter and the landowner’s in­ten­tion to ex­tend the wall be­yond the bends ap­proach­ing the youth hos­tel on the A4085.

“Of­fi­cers from the coun­cil’s Trans­porta­tion Ser­vice have dis­cussed the pro­posed route of the wall with the landowner to en­sure it does not re­strict the width of the high­way as it ap­proaches these bends.

“We will con­tinue to mon­i­tor the sit­u­a­tion to en­sure the wall does not im­pact on the safety of road users.”

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