THE spirit of the Save Our Sands (SOS) campaign which 50 years ago prevented the Pembrey Peninsula being turned into a gunnery range is being revived.
The new threat is not from the Ministry of Defence and guns but from Carmarthenshire council’s leisure section which seems intent of restricting access along the only road allowing free passage to the Blue Flag beach of Cefn Sidan.
The two-year long campaign in the early 1970s resulted in a Public Inquiry following international outrage at the threat of Pembrey becoming a garrison town and all access to eight-miles of Cefn Sidan denied to the public via Pembrey Burrrows around the southern perimeter of the former Royal Ordnance Factory (ROF).
Victory for the campaigners resulted in the creation of Pembrey Country Park in 1974 but the perimeter road has remained open allowing free motorised access to the beach which parking charges were imposed at the park.
Today’s battle is with the county council as plans have been aired via a public notice in a newspaper, which aim to seal off any form of free entry from the sands whatsoever. The move has angered local residents, the equine community, former members of the SOS campaign group and the local MP Nia Griffith.
Speaking to Llanelli Online former press officer with the county council and a former press officer of nine fighting committees set up around the south Glamorgan, Gower, the then Dyfed coast, Ron Cant, said: “The fear is traffic measures being proposed are a first step to stopping up vehicular access to the beach around the perimeter of the Pembrey Country Park.
“Evidence gathered for the SOS public inquiry revealed as many as 700 vehicles a weekend used the perimeter road to the beach with no issues. It is almost obscene to see this roadway now decorated with miles of garish double yellow lines.”
Llanelli MP Nia Griffith told Llanelli Online
“The council have announced that some of the double yellow lines put down on roads leading to car parks near Pembrey Country Park and Cefn Sidan beach are to be removed.”
On their website the council state: “The lines were painted as part of an experimental order to minimise parking obstructions and damage to verges being caused by a growing number of vehicles using the area.
“During the summer upwards of 50 cars have been observed parking on the verges there, causing concern for the Ramsar area of the estuary, which is designated as a Wetlands of International Importance, and the dunes structure, which are designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
“Although the majority of the lines will stay for the remainder of the 12-month experimental period, some of those laid at an area known as Fisherman’s car park – a small parking area with direct access to the beach – are to be removed following a contractor error.
“This area will instead be designated as a pay and display car park.
“Following feedback, an area on Factory Road – the main road way leading to Pembrey Country Park – will be provided to allow for horse boxes to be parked there.”
The Experimental Order prohibits parking on the roadway from the railway bridge in Pembrey down to the entrance to Pembrey Country Park and from the small car park down the single track road to the sand dunes.
Ian Jones, Head of Leisure, said: “There are a number of reasons why we have taken this course of action, but most important is to protect the environment from the growing number of vehicles that are parking on the verges. This is an Experimental Order with opportunity for people to make representations if they object.”
The Experimental Order can be inspected at the council’s Customer Service Centres, at 3 Spilman Street, Carmarthen, and at The Hub Stepney Street, Llanelli. It is also available to view online. After an initial 12-month period the council will consider whether the provisions of the Order are to be continued in force indefinitely.
Anyone who wants to object to the making of a permanent Order, on the terms of the Experimental Order, should send the grounds for their objection in writing to the Head of Administration and Law at Carmarthenshire County Council, County Hall, Carmarthen, SA31 1JP, by January 18, 2019.