Once again in last week’s very warm weather local cockle gatherers reported mass cockle mortality….. Something that has happened all too often in recent summers. Whilst the precise cause of the cockle deaths has still not been established, it seems remarkably coincidental that the dead cockles are located close to the sewage outfall.
News of the cockle deaths comes only days after the European Commission issued a ruling giving the UK authorities two months in which to comply with waste water directives in nine places across UK territory including Llanelli and Gowerton. The ruling specifically mentions the excessive spills of waste water into the Burry Inlet waters, a unique area which has special Natura 2000 status for its ecological importance.
Whatever the cause of the cockle deaths, and, even before the European ruling, we should have been cleaning up the Burry Inlet for human safety and to encourage tourism. Let’s make sure Cefn SIdan merits blue flag status, and even though Llanelli beach is not a designated bathing beach, buckets and spades are on sale and children play on the beach, so let’s get it cleaned up.
We have seen concerted efforts by Dwr Cymru and Natural Resources Wales to remove surface water, reduce flooding risks and try to reduce sewage spills into the estuary, but clearly more needs to be done. The work to date is only easing pressure me on the current state of overload on the system, and it is in no way intended to provide additional capacity to allow for further development.
So in the meantime, we should be taking a very cautious approach to development……. Not rashly covering greenfield sites with hundreds of houses, thus often greatly increasing flooding risks to neighbouring properties, and causing more waste water spills into the estuary.