The English company which is planning to fell 27 acres of ancient woodland within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) on Ynys Môn in order to build a holiday park, want to relocate the popular nature reserve to a toxic dumping ground instead.  

Land and Lakes, a company based in Cumbria, secured planning permission from the council for the construction of 500 holiday chalets at Penrhos Coastal Park near Holyhead. A conservation area, parts of Penrhos are a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Parts of the woodland date back to 1700.

The site - which has been an AONB since 1967 - is full of a variety of flora, fauna and wildlife. Red squirrels, bats, badgers, foxes and insects have made the area their home, among many other native species.

Additionally, Penrhos is popular with local residents and visitors to the area.

Ynys Môn County Council granted planning permission to Land and Lakes six years ago, subject to the signing of Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

Section 106 commits Land and Lakes to make good for any loss or damage caused as they develop the holiday village.

In April of last year, Land and Lakes submitted three new planning applications to the council seeking a discharge from the conditions attached to the 106 agreement.

As defined by the Senedd: ‘S106 agreements are intended to mitigate the negative impacts of a development to make it acceptable in planning terms. They require developers to meet specified planning obligations when implementing planning permissions and are the result of negotiations on these matters between the parties. An agreement may be entered into to prescribe the nature of development, secure a contribution from a developer to compensate for any loss or damage caused by a development, or mitigate a development’s wider impact’.

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In an interview with our sister title, Corgi Cymru, Ynys Môn Council's Planning Manager, Rhys Lloyd Jones, said Land and Lakes had agreed to create a new "nature reserve" in Holyhead. In accordance with the condition imposed upon the developer under Section 106, the company would build the reserve in the Cae Glas area of ​​Holyhead. This, according to Mr Jones, would "mitigate the impact" of demolishing the Penrhos site and turning it into a holiday village.

According to Mr Lloyd Jones: "At the moment Cae Glas is not open to the public (though Penrhos is), so the intention is that this mitigates the impact of Penrhos by opening up 38 acres of land at Cae Glas."

A map showing the proximity of Cae Glas to Penrhos, which is set to be developed to make way for a holiday village. Image: Land and LakesA map depicting the proximity of the toxic Cae Glas site to the nature reserve at Penrhos. Photo: Land and Lakes

In response, Hilary Paterson-Jones, who heads up the Save Penrhos Coastal Park Holyhead campaign, said: "There is a toxic heap where they want to build a nature reserve. Cae Glas has been closed to the public for many years. There are signs prohibiting people from going there.”

According to Ms Paterson-Jones, there are many reasons why the Cae Glas site is so contaminated.

A map showing the proximity of Cae Glas to Penrhos, which is set to be developed to make way for a holiday village. Image: Land and LakesThe former aluminium works of Anglesey Aluminium. Photo: Ian Capper CC BY-SA 2.0

"The site was originally used as a dump by the County Council in the 1960s," she said.

"The site was then purchased by Anglesey Aluminum for the dumping of the toxic waste created by burning and producing aluminium over the years. That's why the place has been closed to the public for 50 years.

“Now they are going to create a nature reserve? God forbid.”

A map showing the proximity of Cae Glas to Penrhos, which is set to be developed to make way for a holiday village. Image: Land and LakesThe stack of the former Anglesey Aluminium is a familiar sight. Photo: Colin Potter

Ms Paterson-Jones was curious, she said: "Why don't they put their lodges in Cae Glas and keep the forest and nature reserve that everyone loves in Penrhos? Keep the local community happy.”

Land and Lakes has been asked exactly that question. But a reply has not yet been forthcoming.

Meanwhile, Ynys Môn Council's Planning Manager argues that the local campaigners who oppose the company's plans are mistaken in believing they can stop the planning application.

According to Mr Lloyd Jones, Land and Lakes’ solicitors are confident the planning permission to build up to 500 holiday cabins on the Penrhos site is sound.

“There is a lot of misinterpretation locally… but at the end of the day, in their opinion (Land and Lakes) and their solicitors, they have permission. Therefore under Section 56 of the Town and Country Planning Act, the permission is protected. ”

What do Ynys Môn Council solicitors think about this? "We have no opinion on it - no one has asked us," said Mr Lloyd Jones, before moving on to his next point.

“People who oppose the application think this (Section 106 conditions) is a way to stop the application. But they have implemented the permission – it’s what we call 'safeguarded'. It’s important to remember that permission has been granted.”

A map showing the proximity of Cae Glas to Penrhos, which is set to be developed to make way for a holiday village. Image: Land and LakesAn artist's impression of the development from 2016. Image: Land and Lakes

The imposition of conditions in a planning context means that the council is happy the developer meets the requirements imposed as part of the planning permission.

In planning language, the word 'condition' is a little misleading - they are not really 'conditions', Mr Lloyd Jones said.

“They are not conditions but provisions within Section 106. There are three planning applications in place to discharge the conditions attached to a 106 agreement. Land and Lakes has to put in place strategies. As part of the permission we've said: you have to this and that before we can move forward.”

But Land and Lakes, according to Mr Lloyd Jones, "is not in a hurry to develop the site - they just want to release these conditions going forward".

The fact that the company is in no hurry is not a surprise to Ms Paterson-Jones, who argues that Land and Lakes is still trying to secure funding for the development.

“I'll tell you why Land and Lakes is happy to wait - they don't have the money. They’re still looking for the £105 million funding in order to build. It's ridiculous - Land and Lakes has never entered discussions with the local community - not once. ”

Another reason why the process is taking so long, argues Mr Lloyd Jones, Planning Manager, is because there is so much opposition to the scheme.

"With the (Penrhos) application we received 580 objections, and obviously there was a lot of work going through them and trying to write a report for a committee."

So how does the council’s Planning Manager feel about Land and Lakes' plan to fell up to 27 acres of ancient woodland in order to build a holiday village at Penrhos?

"I've read a lot about cutting 27 acres of trees but I don't know where that really came from," he answers, "so it's hard for me to comment on it.”

So how many acres, or how of woodland or how many ancient trees are under threat?

"I don't know, I'll have to ask the tree and landscape officer,” he said.

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Does Ynys Môn’s Planning Manager not know how many trees will be felled?

"I've only been in post for six months and I can't be (informed) about every planning application ... it's down to experts within the council to give me that information."

According to Mr Lloyd Jones, the latest Land and Lakes planning applications will have to come before Ynys Môn Council's Planning Committee in due course.

Opponents will have the opportunity to have their say and therefore influence the planning process every step of the way, he said.