- seeking justice
This page lists the key dates relating to Newport Council's plans to build houses and the new Glan Usk primary school on the Glebelands hazardous waste landfill site situated near St Julians in Newport, south Wales.
Like the rest of our 'Glebelands' web pages, this page is under development.
This means that everyone has an opportunity to contribute to the usefulness of this page. So, if you have a key date that
you think should be included here, please send the details with supporting evidence to:
22 April - Glebelands Alliance complains to the Information Commissioner's Office about the Welsh Government's refusal to disclose legal advice received by Ministers when considering a request for an EIA screening direction. [More . . .]
19 April - Glebelands Alliance delivers presentation to Aberystwyth University entitled 'The Glebelands Campaign'. [Download PowerPoint presentation (caution: 29 MB) . . .]
14 March - Welsh Government maintains its decision not to release (a) the legal advice received by Ministers when the considering the request for a screening direction or (b) details of the measures available to remedy a failure to carry out an environmental impact assessment. [More . . .]
17 February - Glebelands Alliance requests Welsh Government to reconsider its refusal to release the legal advice received by Ministers when the considering request for a screening direction. [More . . .]
1 February - European Commission closes infringement complaint against UK Authorities. [More . . .]
17 January - Welsh Government refuses to release details of the legal advice received by the Welsh Government when considering request for an EIA screening direction. [More . . .]
31 December - Glebelands Alliance writes to European Ombudsman challenging the reasons put forward by the European Commission for not following up alleged infringements of EU law by the UK authorities. [More . . .]
17 December - Glebelands Alliance requests Welsh Government for details of the legal advice received when considering request for a screening direction. [More . . .]
12 December - Letter from Welsh Government to confirm refusal of request for EIA screening direction. [More . . .]
23 November - Carwyn Jones, First Minister of Wales, Welsh Government writes to Jocelyn Davies AM to confirm refusal of request for EIA screening direction. [More . . .]
31 October - Welsh Government writes to Mr G. Clubb, Director, Friends of the Earth Cymru to confirm refusal of request for EIA screening direction. [More . . .]
28 October - Welsh Government writes to Glebelands Alliance to confirm refusal of request for EIA screening direction. [More . . .]
28 October - Welsh Government writes to Pippa Bartolotti to confirm refusal of request for EIA screening direction. . [More . . .]
28 October - Welsh Government writes to Ms J McAnulty to confirm refusal of request for EIA screening direction. [More . . .]
28 October - Welsh Government writes to Lindsay Whittle AM to confirm refusal of request for EIA screening direction. [More . . .]
6 October - Lindsay Whittle AM supports request for EIA screening direction. [More . . .]
5 October - Ms J McAnulty supports request for EIA screening direction. [More . . .]
28 September - Glebelands Alliance requests John Griffiths AM to issue an EIA screening direction for the Glebelands development. [More . . .]
25 August - Jessica Morden MP confirms that, after eight months, she has still not received a reply from Newport council. [More . . .]
12 August - Request for support submitted to Jill Evans MEP over complaint to the European Commission against the UK authorities. [More . . .]
8 August - Further evidence submitted to the European Commission in support of a complaint against the UK authorities. [More . . .]
8 July - Astonishingly, the European Commission announces that it "cannot identify a breach of European environmental legislation" . [More . . .]
26 June - Sadly, John Martin, co-founder and Chairman of the Glebelands Action Group, slips away after a long struggle with bowel cancer. [More . . .]
30 March - European Commission investigates complaint against UK Government.
24 March - Welsh Assembly refuses to revoke planning permission. [More . . .]
7 December - European Ombudsman opens inquiry over alleged maladministration by the European Commission. [More . . .]
11 November - Complaint submitted to European Ombudsman alleging maladministration by the European Commission over the lack of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the Glebelands development.
9 August - Glebelands Alliance submits robust rebuttal over the Welsh Assembly's refusal to revoke planning permission.
This follows a request to revoke planning permission that was sent in October 2009 to Ms J Davidson AM, Minister for the Environment, Sustainability and Housing.
18 June - Countryside Council for Wales confirms that it was not consulted by Newport council about need for EIA. [More . . .]
Following a five month investigation, the Welsh Assembly Government decides not to revoke planning permission. See WAG's Decision Letter to Glebelands Alliance.
Newport Council confirms that it ignored reports of radioactive contamination at the school site prior to granting planning permission. [More . . .]
March - ENDS Report publishes the article : ‘Inquiry reveals Glebelands’ impact assessment failures’.
26 February - Following a six month investigation, the Information Commissioner's Office finds that Newport Council breached Regulations 11 and 14 of the Environmental Information Regulations 2004. [More . . .]
17 February - Complaint submitted to European Commission about lack of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the Glebelands development.
19 January - Newport council's Planning Committee allegedly discharges unlawfully Condition 07 to the original planning permission, despite objections. [More . . .]
5 January - Newport council allegedly allows Glan Usk School to be occupied unlawfully. [More . . .]
October - ENDS Report publishes the article: ‘Battle over school plan for toxic site intensifies’.
26 October - Glebelands Alliance submits request to revoke planning permission to Ms J Davidson AM, Minister for the Environment, Sustainability and Housing, Welsh Assembly Government.
Complaint submitted to Information Commissioner's Office that details of EIA screening opinion have not been provided by Newport Council.
26 July - Glebelands Alliance submits request to revoke planning permission to Newport City Council.
May - ENDS Report publishes the article: ‘Agency confirms it was not consulted on EIA’.
27 March - Request for details of EIA screening opinion submitted to Newport Council.
13 March - Environment Agency Wales stated that it was "not formally consulted as to whether an EIA was required".
This conflicts with Newport council's version of events when, on 11 October 2006, Newport council wrote to Ms J Morden MP as follows: "Following consultation with statutory consultees such as the Environment Agency and the Countryside Council for Wales (CCW) it was decided that an Environmental Impact Assessment was not required."
For more details, see Section 4.9.1 of the Glebelands Alliance 'Comments and Observations' document.
18 November - Letter sent by Newport Council to the developer which confirmed the alleged unlawful amendment to planning permission, allowing the single-phase development to become a two-phase development. This change had the effect of excluding Lotery's Reen - the main contamination pathway to controlled waters - from the remediation works. Newport council had, in effect, undermined the approved remediation strategy and ensured that any construction on the site would not be authorised by planning permission.
For more details, see our short paper 'Unlawful amendment to planning permission in 2008?'.
September - The ENDS Report (the leading source of environmental news and analysis) publishes the first of several articles spotlighting Newport Council's doubtful actions and decisions surrounding the Glebelands development: ‘School set for former PCB landfill site without EIA’.
11 August - Amid obvious signs that remediation work on the site of the new school does not comply with the approved remediation strategy, the Glebelands Alliance makes a renewed plea for an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) to be carried out for the development. The South Wales Argus reports: ‘Stop work on new 'toxic' school site’.
VINCI plc announces 'Newport Schools PFI Project'
Newport City Council and Newport School Solutions Limited (a VINCI Investments joint venture company) announce signing of PFI contract for the new Glan Usk Primary School. Norwest Holst’s Bristol Office gets a £14.9 million contract to design and construct the school. Building & Facilities Division of Crispin & Borst gets an £8.1 million contract to fit-out and provide support services at the school for 25 years. A year later, in April 2009, VINCI also reported that its Civil Engineering division undertook a £4 million contract to remediate the site prior to the commencement of construction.
At some time between March and November 2008, Newport Council made a 'behind closed doors' arrangement with the developer that allowed the single-phase development to become a two-phase development. This private arrangement had the effect of making, allegedly, an unlawful amendment to the planning permission. For more details, see Paragraph 3.3 of the maladministration complaint submitted to the European Ombudsman.
17 March - Newport council Press Release announces 'Contracts signed for Glan Usk Primary'
Although Newport Council had previously insisted that the school could not go ahead without a residential housing element to the project, the project eventually went ahead without the housing element when Charles Church Developments Ltd withdrew from the scheme. This is not the first time that the Council's earlier statements and justification for developing the site turn out to be nothing more than misinformation.
5 February - The South Wales Argus reports: ‘Work to start on controversial site for new school’
7 September - David Thorndell local resident and campaign spokesman for the Glebelands Action Group died suddenly during a St Julians Neighbourhood Committee meeting at St Julians Methodist Church.
17 February - The South Wales Argus reports: ‘New fury over site for school’
According to the article, "Officials insisted last night the contaminated ground beneath the site would be cleared and guaranteed safe for 25 years".
Not for the first time, this statement amounted to nothing more than misinformation and broken promises. The contaminated ground beneath the site has still not been cleared, and no one knows what will happen once the safety guarantee expires in 2035.
January - Remediation Strategy released: Planning Support – Enhanced Ground Contamination Risk Assessment and Remediation Strategy: Land at Glebelands, Newport – Application No. 00/0768, Reference: E3803/GO/PSS-RemStrat/JAN06/V2
The document makes no mention of how the radioactive contamination will be dealt with [Note 1], or how the full range of potential airborne contaminants should be monitored during remediation works [Note 2].
[Note 1] Even though some initial radiation measurements were above background levels, no detailed assessment of radioactivity was ever carried out and no action was taken to find the source of the elevated radiation measurements.
[Note 2] Although Newport Council’s Head of Education Services (Resources & Planning) wrote: "The method being used for monitoring for the presence of asbestos fibres on a weekly basis has been approved by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) and is commonly used on remediation sites", this was later proved to be untrue.
25 November - Once again, BBC News reports the concerns of the Glebelands Action Group.
See BBC News article: ‘Toxic clean-up at school site’
According to the report, "the developers said that after extensive testing of the ground, work to make the area safe would include filling it with clean material and laying down a clay cap before any building work commenced".
Not for the first time, this statement amounted to nothing more than misinformation and broken promises: the site has still not been capped with clay, or concrete, or similar impermeable safety barrier.
12 November - The South Wales Argus reports: ‘Council warned on landfill school site’
Even though the Welsh Assembly refused to 'call in' or revoke planning permission for this development, the Assembly appeared to have some ongoing concerns about the Glebelands development. The article quotes an Assembly spokeswoman as saying "The Assembly administration has asked the council to ensure that it considers the matter fully before taking a decision to grant full planning permission."
A spokeswoman for Newport council said "The council would not have gone ahead if it had not been assured by experts that the site can be made completely safe by capping it with concrete."
Not for the first time, this statement amounted to nothing more than Council misinformation and broken promises: the site has still not been capped with concrete.
At some time between June and December 2002, it is alleged that Newport Council unlawfully amended the original outline planning permission by tweaking the original Notice of Decision to the current (amended) Notice of Decision - both dated 31st October 2000.
For more details, see our short paper 'Unlawful amendment to planning permission in 2002?'.
27 March - Even though the Glebelands development now has outline planning permission, there remains significant opposition to the scheme. Accordingly, the South Wales Argus reports: ‘School planners get 594 protest letters - Anger: Action group says council isn't listening to concerns’
22 December - The South Wales Argus reports the views of the Children’s Commissioner for Wales: 'Councillors told: Don't copy North Wales and build on tip'
According to the article, Mr Clarke said that he hoped that Newport councillors would not "let a replacement for Durham Road Schools be built on the Glebelands . . . I would urge Newport council not to go ahead with their plans and I hope that they take a different decision."
28 November - The South Wales Argus reports how the Children’s Commissioner for Wales was snubbed by Newport Council. See South Wales Argus article: 'Don't listen to this talk, planners told'
In November 2001, Mr Clarke, Children’s Commissioner for Wales took the trouble to come to Newport to present his views concerning building schools on landfill sites at a full cabinet meeting. However, Newport Council was so determined to push this development through that the leader of the Council instructed councillors who were members of the planning committee to leave the chamber on the grounds that they might be influenced by what was said. It is doubtful that such exclusion was in the public interest, or ensured the best possible outcome in terms of risk management, environmental protection or safeguarding public health.
24 November - The South Wales Argus reports contaminated soil being found at the Glebelands, at the location of the proposed new school. See South Wales Argus article: Workers find drums of suspicious liquid'
Regarding the proposed school development, the article quotes a Council spokeswoman as saying "Strict planning conditions have also been imposed on the development, and the Environment Agency, Countryside Council for Wales and other independent organisations will monitor work on site."
As things turned out, this statement amounted to nothing more than Council misinformation and broken promises. The planning conditions were not strictly applied, and the work carried out on site was not monitored by the Environment Agency, the Countryside Council for Wales or any other independent organisation.
16 October - Briefing meeting held for the Children’s Commissioner for Wales on 'Building schools on former Landfill Sites'
This is an important paper that discusses issues affecting 'difficult' sites - many of which apply in the case of the Glebelands development, including:
- lack of engagement from the Environment Agency;
- that the Welsh Assembly very rarely agrees to 'call in' a planning application;
- that local authorities may have trouble separating their planning role from other local authority functions; and,
- that there are no effective routes for aggrieved persons to complain about a planning decision.
11 October - Mr Peter Clarke, Children’s Commissioner for Wales prepares important report entitled 'Building Schools on Former Landfill Sites'
Referring to the Glebelands development (and another development in north Wales), Mr Clarke wrote: "It is therefore my view that these schemes should not proceed in their present form, and that the Local Authorities in question pursue other means to achieve their admirable desire to improve the educational environment of the children in their area."
29 August - South Wales Argus reports a heated meeting at a St Julians Neighbourhood Committee meeting because councillors were unable to answer residents' questions. See South Wales Argus article: ‘School protesters fume at councillors’
28 August - BBC News reports the concerns of the Glebelands Action Group and others.
See BBC News article: ‘Parents voice landfill school worries’
16 August - Department of Health issues News Release: ‘Largest ever study into health of populations around landfill sites published’. This is a summary of the Small Area Health Statistics Unit (SAHSU) study published in the British Medical Journal.
5 April - Mr Peter Clarke, Children's Commissioner for Wales writes letter of support to Glebelands Action Group.
31 October - Having failed to comply with the EIA Directive, Newport Council grants itself outline planning permission for the Glebelands development. The Notice of Decision dated 31st October 2000 for Application No. 00/0768 refers.
13 September - National Assembly for Wales responds with its decision letter to the Glebelands Action Group stating why the Glebelands Development will not be 'called in'. The National Assembly seemed happy to ignore the concerns of local residents and leave the planning decision to Newport Council - the very same local authority that:
- had already ignored the views of local residents, despite significant opposition to the development;
- was simultaneously: the Applicant; the site owner; and the local planning authority;
- was clearly biased in favour of the development; and,
- contrary to the EIA Directive, had ignored a specific request to carry out an environmental impact assessment (EIA) screening exercise.
15 August - Local resident Mr T Williams sends letter objection to proposed Glebelands/Herbert Road development to Welsh Assembly, copied to Newport Council. Includes the signatures of 72 residents from Collier Street and Corelli Street, Newport. Largely ignored.
For more details, see Sections 4.5.4 and 4.11 of the Glebelands Alliance 'Comments and Observations' document.
11 August - Newport Council’s Planning Services department sends internal memorandum to the Council’s Development Control department specifically requesting an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) screening exercise for this development. Contrary to the EIA Directive, this request is ignored by the Council’s Development Control department.
For more details, see Paragraphs 3.1.17 to 3.1.19 and 4.3.2 to 4.3.4 of the maladministration complaint submitted to the European Ombudsman.
31 July - Biased and inaccurate letter sent by Newport Council's Director of Education to all Newport councillors in support of Glebelands development. This letter provided feedback to Councillors concerning the flawed Newport Council survey of local views that took place in July 2000. The Council's 'loaded' questionnaire and supporting information (Parent's Newsletter No. 2) excluded the opinions of local residents in general, and failed to present the full range of options. The questionnaire effectively pushed the hapless parents into a corner - which probably explains the high percentage of questionnaires deemed by the Council to have been 'spoilt'.
For more details, see Section 18.104.22.168 of the Glebelands Alliance 'Comments and Observations' document.
7 July - Newport Council applies to itself for planning permission to build primary school and houses on the Glebelands landfill (Application No. 00/0768). Many believe that, right from the start of this project, environmental justice has been severely prejudiced due to Newport Council being, simultaneously:
(a) the local planning authority;
(b) the owner of the Glebelands landfill; and,
(c) the Applicant for planning permission.
7 July - Newport Council sends out notification letter of 'Deemed Consent' planning application No. 00/0768 to St Julians residents. However, it is not clear that any of the 600 notifications claimed to have been sent by Newport Council were received by residents.
For more details, see Sections 4.1 and 4.5.3 of the Glebelands Alliance 'Comments and Observations' document.
7 March - Support for the Save the Glebelands Campaign grows.
See South Wales Argus article: 'They must listen to us!'
19 August - Newport Council gets backing for landfill school from the National Assembly, but parents remain concerned about their choice of site. See Newport News article: ‘Worried parents say polluted land is no place for a school’.
8 August - Lancet article published: 'Risk of congenital anomalies near hazardous-waste landfill sites in Europe: the EUROHAZCON study'.
In summary, the study shows a raised risk of congenital anomaly in babies whose mothers live close to landfill sites that handle hazardous chemical wastes, although there is a need for further investigation of whether the relationship between raised risk of congenital anomaly and residence near landfill sites is a causal relationship.
April - Growing food crops in Newport council allotments on top of the hazardous chemical waste landfill site finally started raising alarm bells. Tests of soil and crops in north Glebelands were undertaken. But Newport council environmental health officers claim that they are using the sampling exercise "to demonstrate the success of the reclaimed site for amenity use". Nevertheless, following some initial soil testing at very shallow depth (six inches), all the allotment holders eventually vacated the site. See Free Press article: 'Tests call suspicion'
March - Concerns about toxins in the soil at the Glebelands start to surface following a report by the Environmental Advisory Unit (EAU) that highlighted hazards associated with disturbing the south Glebelands landfill. The report advised against residential development having garden plots.
See Free Press article: Soil sampling is 'pointless'
The EAU report prompts discussion about carrying out tests in north Glebelands - where, amazingly, Newport Council had permitted up to 103 allotment plots to be developed on top of the toxic landfill.
15 November - Head of Environment and Health at Newport Council states that the Glebelands site is safe for its existing recreation usage. See letter from Newport Council
21 October - 'Save the Glebelands Campaign' protests at plans to sell recreation area and parkland at the Glebelands to pay for Newport Council's controversial, ill conceived and, ultimately, deeply flawed Usk Barrage project.
See South Wales Argus article: ‘Parkland campaign goes on picket duty’