Cardiff barrage safeguards tightened

(First Edition)

THE GOVERNMENT introduced tighter environmental protection requirements last night for the controversial plans to build a barrage across Cardiff Bay.

Gwilym Jones, Under-Secretary at the Welsh Office, told the Commons that new provisions in the Cardiff Bay Barrage Bill would help protect the bay's 'flora and fauna'. He was opening the report stage debate on the measure enabling construction of a multi-million pound barrage across the estuaries of the river Taff and river Ely.

Mr Jones said that last night's move was 'a positive step towards creating new and varied wildlife habitats within the bay'. Under the changes, the Cardiff Bay Development Corporation will be required to 'have regard to the desirability of developing and conserving flora and fauna' and will have to consult the Countryside Council for Wales.

But Ann Clywd, Labour's spokesman on Wales, demanded assurances the Bill's new provisions would stand up to legal scrutiny. She warned that the barrage would destroy the bay's site of special scientific interest. 'This is why the Opposition has called for an independent assessment of the environmental impact ..'

Labour's Ron Davies (Caerphilly) said that it was 'the first time we have had the complete destruction of an SSSI as a direct result of government legislation'.