BLUESTONE.

NOV 20 2004

There is not much to add as it will be decided in the High Court this week It is basically an issue between the statutory purposes of the park, which are to preserve the natural beauty and promote understanding, against its secondary duty to foster the social and economic well being of its communities. Do people come first ?

The outcome could have major repercussions and might initiate the redrafting of the parks purposes.

On the political front it goes a little deeper as it begins to reveal the rifts and cultural divides in the system between officers and authority membership. Who runs the show ? Because officers do not like the decision of a serious and well intentioned committee it just shows what lengths they will go to to quash it. At the same time the CNP comes under the spot light as a charity. It would not be surprising if the Charity Commissioners do not closely investigate and scrutuinise CNP's activities and involvement in this area, as it is close, if not political.

High Court date for Bluestone challenge

Nov 9 2004

Sion Barry, Western Mail

THE future of the 60m Bluestone holiday village project in West Wales will be decided at a High Court hearing later this month. Despite the plan having planning consent from both Pembrokeshire County Council and Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority, environmental umbrella organisation, the Council for National Parks, has mounted a legal challenge to the development. Leave has been granted for a judicial review against Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority, and a High Court hearing is scheduled to be held in Swansea from November 23-25.

The charitable trust body, of which Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority is a member, believes the Bluestone scheme breaks precedent, as it will be partially sited on national park land. However, Bluestone argues that there are examples of similar developments in other UK national parks, including a holiday village at Longleat.

After a protracted scrutiny, the park authority gave its consent to the project back in January - the local authority had given its support in the summer of 2003. The project, which straddles land under the planning jurisdiction of both bodies, is being spearheaded by local entrepreneur William McNamara. Bluestone promises to create 500 permanent jobs and will feature 340 timber lodges, a waterworld and snowdome. Yesterday it was confirmed that Bluestone has signed up to the Green Dragon environmental management standard. The leisure development at Narberth aims to achieve internationally recognised environmental accreditation through the standard, which has been developed by Wales' environmental consultants Arena Network.

Arena Network business environment adviser for Pembrokeshire, Paul Owen, said, "This is an indication of the very real commitment that Bluestone has to environmental issues and is a great boost to the Green Dragon standard, which aims to certify over 100 companies throughout Pembrokeshire within the next two years. "It is a clear statement by the Bluestone developers about their commitment to the environment and wider sustainability issues," he added. "Coupled with an undertaking to encourage green practices throughout its extensive supply and partnership chain, this will hopefully attract even more companies in Pembrokeshire to sign up."

The standard is a five-step approach to achieving a world-class environmental management system. It establishes a formal system that ensures companies have annually updated environmental policies and that they comply with relevant environmental legislation. Companies also have to demonstrate anti-pollution measures and commit to continuous environmental improvement. Bluestone chief executive Mr McNamara said, "Bluestone is a holiday experience close to nature and this drives the need to develop a facility that benefits its environment. "Sustainability and environ- mental empathy have been central to the Bluestone philosophy from the early design stages through to completion of the environmental impact assessment, our own environmental policy and the management plan. "We take our environmental responsibilities very seriously and signing up for the Green Dragon standard is the next step in demonstrating this commitment."

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

National Park facts
In Sion Barry's article on the proposed Bluestone holiday complex in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park (Western Mail, November 9), it was alleged that "there are examples of similar developments in other UK national parks, including a holiday village at Longleat".

I would like to point out that Longleat is not in a national park; it is in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

National parks are protected against "major developments" (such as Bluestone) in national and local planning policies. By contrast, AONBs were not so strongly protected against major developments until the Government changed its policy four years ago, a number of years after planning permission had been given to the Center Parcs holiday village at Longleat.

Therefore the Center Parcs at Longleat has no bearing whatsoever on this case. There is no similar development in any UK national park.

SYLVIA DAVIES
Senior Policy Officer, Council for National Parks, Mount Stuart Square, Cardiff.

 

COMMENT

Some people think that all national parks should become AONBs. Are the aims and purposes

of much difference ?