Friday, 22 April 2011

An intelligent use for Rhosgoch.

The disused Shell site at Rhosgoch: time to put it to good use.
Its great to hear that a consortium of ten community and town councils in northern Ynys Môn have put forward proposals to convert the disused 198 acre Shell Site at Rhosgoch into a 'Centre Parcs' type attraction. The proposal is for Wylfa B developers Horizon to build accommodation for their workers on the site, which could then be converted into an adventure holiday destination following the completion of the new reactor.

This proposal would effectively kill two birds with one stone. Firstly a new and dedicated estate for housing workers would ensure that a large proportion of the Island's tourist accommodation is not displaced during Wylfa B's construction – it would be difficult to grow our tourism industry if all the existing tourist accommodation was taken up by Wylfa workers. Secondly it finally finds a fantastic dual-purpose use for the Rhosgoch site, which has remained as wasteland ever since it was donated to the Island by Shell back in the 1980s. The influx of holiday makers to such an attraction would also provide an invaluable long-term boost in the arm to the economy of Amlwch and its surrounding area.

Its worth pointing out that a suggestion to convert the Rhosgoch site into exactly this kind of attraction was included in the crowd-sourced 'People's Manifesto for Ynys Môn', created by contributors to this blog last July:

'The Council should consider promoting the creation of a unique, big attraction somewhere on the Island which combines Anglesey’s strengths (its suitability as a water sports venue coupled with its proximity to the Snowdonia National Park) and has the potential to attract new visitors from Liverpool, Manchester, the Midlands and elsewhere in North Wales - without cannibalising existing businesses in the way, for example, a retail park would. One suggestion would be something like a ‘Centre Parc’ crossed with the ‘Eden Project’ crossed with the ‘Coed y Brenin’ Mountain Biking Centre. Such an attraction could offer visitors boating, walking, riding, various cycling paths, swimming pools with slides and waves, etc. - and all within a short distance from other activities in Snowdonia National Park. The facility would also offer tiered accommodation and a network of shops and restaurants. The council’s role would be to identify a suitable site, provide access roads, car parks, drainage, and then find a suitable private company to build and operate the site. The old Shell site at Rhosgoch might be a suitable location for this attraction - it belongs to the council, has remained unused for 20 years, is fairly tranquil and is close to the sea."

Read the whole thing here.


kp said...

Ah ha, now I see you are in favour of subsidising the nuclear industry once again, but this time with rate payers money.

And just who is it that is going to derive benefit from this plan, the ratepayers?

Photon said...

An interesting idea, but one that needs careful social considerations - as Horizon have been careful to hint at already.

One can imagine the kind of problems sticking hundreds if not thousands of construction workers together in one place might bring. Hard drinking to offset boredom etc, etc.

I wonder how the contaminated areas of land will be dealt with? Not like Northamptonshire Council did it, I hope:

Paul Williams said...

KP - Ynys Môn's rate payers will benefit a lot more through the wasted 198 acres at Rhosgoch being put to productive use, especially if it helps attracts large numbers of holidaymakers who would then spend their tourist-pounds throughout Anglesey.

kp said...

If a holiday park was going to be successful on this island one would have been built many years, decades ago. And by private enterprise.

Now you seriously expect the council to be able to run such an enterprise. Or do you mean the council plus a few of their entrepreneurial buddies, using up yet more council funds, grant, subsidies and loans until we can formally declare the business yet another disastrous (and expensive) failure!

Have we learnt nothing since Wylva A? Have we learnt nothing about the incompetence and duplicity of some of our councillors?

It would seem not.

Paul Williams said...

KP - Nobody is suggesting it should be run by the council. Read what it said in the Manifesto:

"The council’s role would be to identify a suitable site, provide access roads, car parks, drainage, and then find a suitable private company to build and operate the site."

kp said...

Paul, I'd happily go along with it under the following proviso:

The councillors at the time are ultimately and collectively responsible for each and every penny of ratepayers/taxpayers money that is associated with the project.

If the project fails, for whatever reason, and it costs the council money, that monetary deficit is made good by each and every councillor.

If the project succeeds, all well and good, the councillors were doing what we elected them to do.

We need to treat projects like this just like any other private enterprise. If there are losses to be made someone has to pay for those losses.

Now tell me you are still happy to proceed.

Anonymous said...

Another cash cow ready for the milking by the Taffia that rule and control this Island for their own financial gain.

I wouldn't let any of the Taffia near the place, as long as their dirty hands control grants and funding, it would be best for a Company from outside the area to come in to create this project.

Groundhog Day said...
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Llwydiarth said...

I think it's important we be positive - and not dismissive of new ideas - as I'm afraid too many people are.

It is surprising to me however that there is no mention of the Menai Straits in the People's Manifesto. It is a sailing and boating venue without parallel in the UK. Yet the contribution it can made to jobs and tourism is being restricted and frustrated by the legal powers assumed (wrongly in my view) by a relatively recent incomer - the mussel-dredging industry. The powers assumed by these operators have trumped those of the Crown Estates Commission , the Welsh Assembly Government and the IoACC.

Richard Sletzer said...

RHOS GOCH : "Not so hasty if you please" said Lady Catherine de Bourgh in "Pride an Prejudice".

Maybe there's just a chance of Rhos Goch being reverted to its original purpose - along with the jobs that went with it.

I am old enough to remember Shell building that massive pipeline across Anglesey from Rhos Goch down to Fryars Bay and on to the Stanlow refinery. OK, Shell closed the pipeline years ago and got crude supplies in via Tranmere instead from but the pipe it's still there.

Now guess what? Stanlow has just been sold - to an indian company
Essar Energy in a deal worth $1.3bn.

It might be worth a phone call to check if Essar might like to re-open Rhos Goch .

kp said...

Sure, that is sensible thinking, just what politicians ought to be thinking.

And I'd be happy to pay for the call.

Over to you Paul.

The Red Flag said...

I am going to go outside and kill myself.

I find myself in agreement with KP and Richard Selzer.

Anonymous said...

The only reason they killed off the tank farm was the cheap price of crude oil, now it's going sky high again, maybe they will re-use the pipeline.... I don't think so.sorry, but those days are well gone, it costs 4 barrels of oil to get 1 barrel of oil out of the ground, we won't be able to afford petrol soon, the best use for the tank farm, would be a rickshaw factory, or as they are now Indian owners tuck tucks.

not only but also said...

For detailed report on workers accomodation for Wylfa B see

Anonymous said...

"If a holiday park was going to be successful on this island one would have been built many years, decades ago."

What a silly thing to say.

I don't know if kp has noticed, but not even the private sector can work the miracle of doing everything they want to, everywhere they want to, all at the same time.

Apart from anything else, in the current circumstances there's the small matter of finance to think about (or not, as there isn't any, but let's put that to one side as Vince Cable is going to fix it isn't he, and if he doesn't the Millionare's Cabinet can cover the shortfall with pocket money).

So just because Anglesey hasn't got (say) a Centre Parcs today doesn't mean it won't happen in two years time, just the same as Anglesey didn't have a Waitrose (or whatever) two years ago, and now it does.

That being said, there's a long way between "can happen" and "will happen".

The Red Flag said...

anon, The market high-end produce little income for a local area. They are expensive - but that goes to a company that is as a rule not in Wales. They do not have a high volume of guests and what they do have tends to stay on-site. They employ few employees most of which are in support - cleaners, security etc (low paid). Most of the contracted maintenance is contracted to companies that can support their UK-wide operations (hence why you see poeple from Northhampton fixing things in nationel outlets in Holyhead).

I'm afraid for this to work you are going to have to go for volume - something along the lines of Haven's Hafan Y Mor. Actually I support that and Newborough/Aberffraw would be ideal for it - probably Maltraeth. Shallow sandy beaches, clear water, clement weather as a rule for at least 6 months of the year.

the outsider said...

the tourism industry has endured on this island for centuries and outlived many of the other industries that have come and gone and left devestation in their wake. I'm not at all anti-big industry but when the factories close down and abruptly leave the island, they also leave unemployment and contamination of land, and hundreds of families find themselves without a decent income. Tourism by comparision can provide work in big, small and micro type businesses. It provides work for the self-employed, young and old. The island has an abundance of qualities to offer the tourist, from the character of the historic buildings and settings, to the stunning beauty of the land and seascapes, the fun of water and mountain sports, and the relaxation of quiet pursuits. Anglesey has always benefitted from its natural environment, and providing it is careful not to destroy the character of its natural environment, tourism will continue to be the most important industry on the island. Richard Sletzer can call the indian owned Essan Energy, but it is a fact that the Lairds site was abandoned many years ago and has been empty of industry and derelict since. The houses that were built for the workers at Llanfaes are now occupied by far too many unemployed local people. Llwydiarth @17.59, maybe Fryars Bay could be the home for a new Marina and Hotel?
My only concern is that the County Council and our elected politicians don't destroy the natural and historic attraction of the island by allowing massive windfarms all over the place like the 100metre high turbines that are being proposed for the site just off the A5025 at Cae Isaf, between Menai Bridge and Pentraeth. These turbines would be nearly 4 times the height of The Marquess of Anglesey's Column, and stand on higher ground. They will be seen for miles around and from the other side of the Menai Strait. I'll leave the discussion about how ineffective, expensive and unreliable wind power is for another day, but if IoACC want to kill off the one enduring industry there is on this island they can simply allow massive industrial turbines to pop up all over the place, that will put off the tourists alright.

Maes Llwyn said...

Rhosgoch : The site is held in trust for the benefit of Anglesey, by the Anglesey Charitable Trust, (aka The Shell Fund),a body which is subject to the Charities Act, and nothing can be done with it without the approval of the Charity Commissioners, advised by Chartered Surveyor valuers.
Lots of potential in the idea !!
But, there is a whiff of self interest and opportunism coming from certain leading landowners in Amlwch, we know who they are ?

Photon said...
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grumpy young man said...

Why is it always the drive towards Tourism? I'm sick to the back teeth of hearing of plans being dreamed up for the benefit of tourists. Anyone out there got any plans for the benefit of locals that doesn't rely on the handouts from tourists? something that keeps a lot of the money here on the Island?

Anglesey needs permanent, year-round jobs actually 'making' things not selling ice-cream, waitng on tables or servicing chalets for minimum wage. Admittedly we are the wrong end of the A55 but that could actually be a blessing - we've got the space for things like that to happen.

We need our Economic Development unit to encourage large manufacturing companies to set up here instead of them trumpeting every 'one-man-and-his-dog' start-up that employs the owner's wife/son/daughter/aunty or in-law in the local rag every third week.

I don't want to hear of the 'great success' of opening a takeaway in a car park in Holyhead and I don't want to hear pie-in-the-sky Energy Island stories that are never going to materialise. I want to hear that 350 quality jobs will be created in Amlwch in September, that 400 jobs are coming to Holyhead in August 2012 etc etc and that those elected and employed to make this sort of thing happen are actually earning their not insubstantial crust.

We don't want 'schemes' either (for that just brings 'schemers' and Anglesey already has enough of those sitting in the big house in Llangefni) - we want proper jobs with proper pay for the honest, decent people of Anglesey. And none of that specious argument that the pay is "good for 'round here" either. That premise is hogwash - a tin of beans and a pint of milk costs the same in London/Birmingham/Manchester as it does here.

I wonder if any of the crop of candidates will be bold enough to stand up and say they're standing for Anglesey 1st and Toeing the Party line 2nd ...and actually mean it?

Richard Sletzer said...

I agree with GRUMPY YOUNG MAN. We need through-the-year employment....But apart from tourism, and farming, and small factories - what else does Anglesey offer that people want to buy.

Well, for thing, it has copper. So what is happening to Parys Mountain? Anglesey Mining PLC owns 100% of the Parys Mountain zinc-copper-lead deposits with a total historical resource in excess of 7 million tonnes at over 9% combined copper, lead and zinc.

When in full production at 350,000 tons a year the mine is forecast (and there have been many,many forecasts over the years!) to produce 20,000 tonnes of zinc per annum, 8000 tonnes of copper and 7000 tonnes of lead .

Anglesey Mining says "high unemployment means the project is favourably viewed by the local authority and the Welsh Assembly Government which would provide grants towards capital costs"

Given the state of IoACC and the lack of funds of WAG it would be interesting to know if those "grants" are still likely to be forthcoming.

Mr B. Gates said...

Substantial enterprise and investment will NOT be coming to backwater Anglesey any time soon folks, for a variety of good reasons. If you were entrepreneurs and businessmen, you'd understand the reasons why !
No point confusing you here.

Anonymous said...

"That premise is hogwash - a tin of beans and a pint of milk costs the same in London/Birmingham/Manchester as it does here."

No, that's wrong on two points:-

1) The cost of food varies significantly from region to region.

2) What people mean by "good [wage] for round here" is that round here (Anglesey, North Wales, etc) is on the whole far cheaper in terms of cost of living (rent, rates, etc) than say, London, Liverpool, Reading, etc.

The wages in London, Liverpool, Reading etc may be higher, but the cost of living is higher there.

You even may well be better off overall on a lower wage over here than a higher wage there.

The Red Flag said...

Rents are cheaper in the 'dormitory towns' (Bury, Rochdale, Oldham, Heywood etc) around Manchester than here. Access to amenities is easier because everything is compressed distance-wise. Food is cheaper (main retailers use regional pricing to offset the cost of transporting and consumer density), petrol is cheaper, public transport is more freguent and cheaper.

What is more expensive is insurance of all types, council tax, car parking, tradesmen.

Plus they are dirty, noisy, crowded and at times bloody dangerous.

Can't say for Liverpool but certainly Greater Manchester.

the outsider said...

Richard Sletzer does Rio Tinto have any interest in the Copper Mines and land thereabouts?

Richard Sletzer said...

THE OUTSIDER Ummm... well they might. Rio Tinto Zinc is just so enormous Anglesey Mining and Parys Mountain could be gobbled up for small change - but it could also be just too small for them to bother with .

Certainly Anglesey Mining PLC has been struggling for decades to get this mine up and running and the value of its shares rises and falls with the price of copper - At the moment Anglesey Mining is being largely sustained by its Labrador Iron Mine interests. Parys Mountain is just sitting on the books as an undeveloped asset.

Meanwhile metal prices around the world are continuing to rise because of the massive demand from China. In fact a direct bid from China for Parys Mountain couldn't be ruled out I suppose

Darth Sidious said...

Rents are cheaper in the 'dormitory towns' (Bury, Rochdale, Oldham, Heywood etc) around Manchester than here.

I am really surprised at that!

Prometheuswrites said...

"Rents are cheaper in the 'dormitory towns'"

Outside London and other up-market areas, house prices have collapsed - between 40-60% in the North East according to a recent report I heard.

They will possibly come down up here too, along with rents, when the Housing Benefit cuts come in - ostensibly to force local landlords to drop their rents - though as Red Flag has pointed out, it will leave buy-to-let landlords between a rock and a hard place, especially when inflation kicks in, in the mid term, and the banks all raise their interest rates.

The Red Flag said...

Darth Sidious, I could never work out myself how wages were better but housing cheaper on the periphery of Manchester than Anglesey.

All I could think of was that things like council tax and insurances being more expensive skewed the wage levels upwards over there, while living in such a nice place skewed housing costs up over here

Anonymous said...

Build housing for workers? I thought all of these politicians promised the work to local people... If so why do they need housing? Are they all homeless??? The same was promised when Wylfa A came, and 99% of the workers weren't local. Wont be long till they suggested a waste plant be built in Rhosgoch too!

Anonymous said...

One large point I would like to make, if Wylfa B does get built, then they should provide free electricity to Anglesey Schools, Anglesey hospitals and for Ysbyty Gwynedd. Also our street lighting needs to be switched back on!

Darth Sidious said...

Red Flag,

I'm still surprised, but what you say does kind-of make sense to me now.

I used to work in Reading in 2000 - 2001, I had a smallish bed-sit (about 1.5 x the floorspace of a normal living room), £500 a month rent on it, yet it was, to be brutally honest, quite squalid!

Anon 23:23
Yes, I'd go with that, free electric for hospitals and maybe schools.

The Red Flag said...

500 quid Darth? You can rent a 3-4 bed semi with front and rear gardens on theoutskirts of Greater Manchester for that/

If you don't mind a Victorian 2-bed Terrace (a la Coronation Street) in inner Oldham you can buy one for a smaller mortgage payment than that.

Darth Sidious said...

Yes Red Flag, exactly my point! In big cities, you can pay through your nose in rent. That's why I was surprised at the comment of (in a nutshell) "rates being the same on Anglesey as in bigger cities", clearly not the case in my experience of living in Reading. I assumed (wrongly, perhaps) that Northern Towns would be higher in terms of rates than here, albeit not as high as Reading, London, etc.

The Red Flag said...

By rates if you mean Council Tax then yes CT is far higher - I was paying near a grand a year CT for a one-bed flat Band A, with the single persons discount.

I reckon it's all down to desirability - people want to live here, a lot of people actually retire to here. Where as few retire to Greater Manchester from here I think. That makes demand for housing higher here than there and as such drives the prices up.

Similalrly your experiences are of the south and property in the south is a con.

Anonymous said...

"demand for housing" (re RF)

Not disagreeing with your general point, but don't forget that "demand for housing" needs to say what kind of housing. The houses folk want (and developers want to build) in the Cheshire stockbroker belt aren't the same kind of houses wanted/needed in most parts of Anglesey. Same goes for the house price headlines - whatever may have happened to the overall UK average (all market sectors, all locations), all that really matters is prices in the sector that's relevant to you and me in the places where you and me need to live.

"we are the wrong end of the A55" (re grumpy young man)

So how about the things where location doesn't matter so much?

Does the location matter much for something like a call centre ? Some companies have clearly realised that badly run overseas call centres are bad for business. Badly run UK call centres are probably slightly better, but well run UK call centres are better still (just see how well First Direct and Smile do in the customer surveys, for example).

Amazon has a warehouse an hour's drive north of Edinburgh, and another one roughly the same distance from Glasgow. They also have a development centre in what used to laughably be called Silicon Glen (South Queensferry). But nothing on Welsh territory; in particular nothing reasonably close to the massive market in the north of England. How does that work?

Manufacturing jobs, especially skilled ones, would be great. But there are other options too. Howcome Scotland gets them and Wales doesn't yet? Is it anything to do with the SNP?

The Red Flag said...

Just in case any young whipper-snappers aren't sure what Rhisgich was.