The Bala Lake Railway Trust (BLRT) is working on a new planning application for its proposed extension into the centre of the town in Gwynedd, Wales, addressing the seven issues which the planning authority raised when refusing the initial application in April.
On July 20, BLRT Trustees met Eleanor Carpenter, Historic Environment Planning Officer of Snowdonia/ Eryri National Park, and Howard Jones from consultants Caulmert Ltd at the site of the future station, and discussed details of the new planning application.
BLRT Chair Julian Birley said that the discussion agreed a defined way forward, and commented that, “We received excellent guidance and advice from Eleanor Carpenter who has also agreed to keep engaged with us as the application is prepared. There is still the issue of the phosphates in the river, but the additional points of refusal I am confident we can now resolve.”
Then in August, Natural Resources Wales issued a phosphate permit for the Bala Wastewater Treatment Works. This means that the Railway now knows how much phosphate entering the water at Bala is safe for the river. One of the main reasons for the refusal of planning permission was concern that increased numbers of tourists visiting Bala and using the railway might contravene Welsh Government legislation by causing additional phosphates to be discharged into the River Dee.
Welsh Water (Dŵr Cymru) will respond to the phosphate permit, which will reveal whether the Treatment Works will be able to keep phosphate levels within the legal requirements when the Railway extension creates new sewer connections. Even if it can not do so now, Dŵr Cymru's upgrade plans, which include a phosphate stripping capacity, provide a way forward.
Bureau Veritas engineers from Derby and Manchester visited the railway at the end of August to carry out survey work and prepare a detailed report on the noise and vibration impact the locomotives will have on the town. They found that the impact would be minimal. The £2,500 cost of the survey and report shows the detail that is needed ensure that the Trust's plans will have no adverse effects.
Meanwhile, the Trust continues to raise funds for the project, and has now passed the halfway mark of its £100,000 target for the ‘fighting fund' to meet the cost of the new planning application.
Volunteer Jenny Smith and other members of the Bala Lake Railway Society organised a cream tea garden party and craft sale in Bala on Saturday 19 August, which raised more than £500.
Clwb Badminton y Bala (Bala Badminton Club) made a significant contribution after it held a fundraising 24-hour Spin Cycle on the shore of the lake on Saturday 26 August. Club members and friends took turns on the bikes, aiming to ride the equivalent of 500 miles, the distance from Bala to Paris. They actually rode more than 900 miles, which would have got them to Paris and back to Dover! The club raised £10,712.43, with the help of a raffle of prizes donated by local businesses.
You can donate to the fighting fund here.
Julian Birley said, “I cannot think of another heritage railway anywhere that has had such incredible independent local support, such is the belief of the community in the future success of the BLR and local economy with trains coming into the town. To say thank you is simply inadequate, but my command of the English language cannot express our gratitude enough.”