Funding confirmed for plan to knock down homes on polluted street
News | Saul Cooke-Black - Local Democracy Reporting Service | Published: 17:24, Wednesday June 5th, 2019.
A plan to knock down houses on one of Wales’ most polluted streets has been handed a boost after Welsh Government confirmed extra funding will be made available.
Caerphilly council is consulting on options to improve air quality on the A472 in Hafodrynys after the levels of nitrogen dioxide were recorded as higher than anywhere except central London in 2015 and 2016.
Most people who have responded to the consultation so far say they want the council to buy and demolish houses in the area to reach clean air targets faster.
But senior councillors previously expressed concern the plan could push residents into financial hardship unless extra funding from the Welsh Government is made available.
An alternative ‘do minimum’ approach, which relies on greener vehicles reducing pollution levels over time, is also being considered.
This approach is estimated to make the street compliant with air guidelines by 2025, two years later than the plan which involves knocking down homes.
Cabinet member for environment and public protection, councillor Eluned Stenner, told a full council meeting on Tuesday that Welsh Government has confirmed money will be allocated to ensure residents are not left out of pocket if homes are demolished.
She said: “The Welsh Government has subsequently confirmed that it will make adequate funding available for the purchase and demolition of properties should this prove necessary, including the potential for applying the value of a new similar property as opposed to market value of their house being demolished.
“This would address cabinet’s previous express concern that residents should not be placed in financial hardship.”
Cllr Stenner said the news represented “a positive change in circumstances.”
Following the meeting, a spokesman for Welsh Government said: “We have always made it clear that we are committed to supporting the authority in their delivery of the necessary actions to achieve compliance with statutory nitrogen dioxide levels in the shortest timescale possible.”
Welsh Government previously said the proposed do minimum approach is “not viable” and could be challenged by ministers.
It emailed the council with concerns on the same day cabinet members suggested knocking down homes may not be pursued.
A report on the council’s approach to home evaluations, and the outcomes of the public consultation which closes on Tuesday, June 11, is being drawn up.
A decision on which option to pursue is then due to be made on June 26.