ASBESTOS has been found at the Abermule Business Park where Powys County Council, (PCC) wants to build a Bulking Recycle Facility.

Councillors on the Planning Committee heard arguments for and against a “non-material amendment” application to change the wording of conditions that were placed on the outline planning permission.

PCC as applicants wanted to change the wording of conditions so that the site does not qualify under legislation as contaminated land.

This would allow work on the site to start before the contaminated land is sorted out.

Abermule and Llandyssil Community Councillor, Martin Aymes, argued against  the changes.

He said: “The original conditions were included for the primary reason of protecting people and the natural environment from potential exposure to harmful contamination.”

PCC engineer, Simon Kendrick, who made the application, responded: “This application is purely to allow a contractor to prepare a remediation strategy before any works. This material is on the extremity of the site.

“From what I understand it’s buried material from years ago which includes some asbestos.

“It’s not on the main construction site and allows the contractor to cordon off that area off.”

Cllr Elwyn Vaughan (Plaid Cymru – Glantwymyn) said:  “It never ceases to amaze me how politically naive we seem to be on the messages we send out when we present applications in our own right.

“Changing conditions willy nilly to to get its developments through easier sends the wrong message out.”

Cllr Vaughan moved to refuse the application and was backed by Cllr Francesca Jump (Liberal Democrat – Welshpool Gungrog).

Cllr Les George (Conservative – Caersws) asked if other parts of the site could be contaminated?

PCC senior contaminated land officer, David Jones, who believes the site is “low risk”, said: “The presence of the asbestos is very limited, in reality you could find it elsewhere on the site.

“But the actual development itself will make safe any of those issues and can be managed quite easily by an asbestos management plan.”

Cllr Gwilym Williams (Conservative – Disserth and Trecoed) said: “I would have thought before the original application came forward there would have been some excavations to see if it was contaminated and to what extent.

“There could be more in other places, so we don’t know how much is there?”

“I would feel to be fair to everybody and other developers a more extensive report and more of an examination of the site is done.

“My concern is that it’s not clear what quantity of asbestos is there? I’m not happy with it as it stands.”

Mr Jones replied: “You’re never going to find everything.”

“I would not recommend them going back to do more investigation, that seems to me to be a waste of time and resources.”

Planning development manager, Peter Morris, said the principle of development there had been agreed and that PCC were “tripping over” conditions that were “not helpful” in allowing the development to happen.

Cllr Vaughan changed his recommendation from refusal to deferring the application, to allow time for more information to be received by the committee. But his motion was voted down.

Cllr Kathryn Silk (Liberal – Democrat – Bwlch) proposed to go along with the officers’ recommendations to approve and was backed by Cllr Hywel Lewis (Independent – Llangunllo).

This application was approved by nine votes to five against and two abstentions.

In August 2018, planning permission was given for the £4 million scheme.

In May the PCC cabinet voted unanimously in favour of going ahead with it.

PCC has stressed  that the facility is to help the authority deal with hitting the Welsh Government recycling targets of 70 per cent by 2024/25.

It believes the recycling bulking facility is “essential to maximise the efficiency” of the collection vehicles and is “ideally located between the two main population centres of North Powys.”