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Saturday, September 28, 2019

Talks held on Kronospan emission concerns

* From left, town councillor Jackie Allen; Susan Elan Jones MP; Ken Skates AM; county councillor Terry Evans and Kronospan’s environmental manager Keith Baker at Chirk Parish Hall this morning.
Politicians have held 'constructive' talks about concerns over emissions from the Kronospan factory in Chirk.

Clwyd South Assembly Member Ken Skates and Susan Elan Jones MP met with Terry Evans, county councillor for Chirk South and Wrexham Council’s Lead Member for Economy and Regeneration this morning (Friday).

They were joined by Chirk town councillor Jackie Allen, who is also chair of Chirk Environmental Liaison Group, and Kronospan’s Environmental Manager Keith Baker.

Mr Skates said: “I was pleased when Wrexham Council contacted me to arrange this meeting. I know Terry as the local member gets a lot of complaints as the council are currently responsible for monitoring emissions.

“It was a constructive meeting and Susan and I are pleased to be working alongside Terry and Jackie to address residents’ ongoing concerns.”

Ms Jones said: “We know this is a long-standing issue for some of our constituents so this was a welcome opportunity to discuss what the council and company are doing to mitigate their concerns. It’s vital we work together on issues like this which are important to local people, so I'm pleased Cllr Evans from Wrexham County Borough Council and town councillor Allen were able to attend.

“Ken and I have made numerous representations on behalf of our constituents in the Chirk area to Wrexham Council and the company itself over the past few years to convey residents' concerns. Most people say they don’t want the factory closed as it’s one of our area's biggest employers and closure would devastate hundreds of local families. However, I’m strongly of the view that more has to be done to deal with the very legitimate environmental concerns that local residents have.”

Natural Resources Wales (NRW) is set to take over sole responsibility for monitoring emissions from Kronospan next year.

Mr Skates said: “I know there continues to be some confusion and misinformation with regard to Kronospan, which is why the Welsh Government has issued a direction to ensure that the site has a single regulator in the future, which will be NRW.”

Kronospan currently has two environmental permits. One is issued by Wrexham Council, which relates to the wood-related production. The other issued by Natural Resources Wales (NRW), which relates to formaldehyde production. NRW is currently determining an environmental permit application received from Kronospan and is expected to complete this process by early 2020.

A recent letter to Mr Skates from Wrexham Council’s chief planning and regulatory officer, Lawrence Isted, confirmed that the authority is currently responsible for emissions to air, land and water, as well as noise.

Mr Isted said: “Upon receiving complaints on such matters, my officers would consider the likely source of the alleged pollutant and assess the controls implemented by the company against the requirement of the permit.

“Officers would also consider the effect of the pollutant on human health and the environment with reference to relevant environmental standards issued by the World Health Organisation and relevant air quality standards regulations. These standards are used to protect the health and wellbeing of the local population.”

He added: “Recent air quality monitoring indicates that air quality levels within the Chirk area complies with relevant statutory guidelines.” 

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