Solva Business Group – Newgale Shingle Bank

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Solva Business Group

 Solva Business Group response to the Newgale Shingle Bank

Vulnerability Assessment from Pembrokeshire County Council

Solva Business Group represents more than 65 businesses locally, all of them largely dependant on tourism. We are extremely concerned about the future of the A487 through Newgale.

We have held a well attended meeting ourselves, compiled questionnaires and have bought the matter up at meetings with Stephen Crabb, Pembrokeshire Tourism and Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority.

The importance of this road to the peninsular cannot be underestimated. A Pembrokeshire Visitor Survey (2011-2012) indicated that 38% of all visitors to Pembrokeshire visit St David’s. Our own questionnaires suggests that 80-90% of our visitors use the A487 through Newgale and many indicated they would have been deterred by a longer inland route.

Businesses rely on repeat visitors, whilst some of those questioned indicated they would still have made the journey, a large proportion questioned whether they would make the journey again if the route was substantially altered.

Of all the information centres, St David’s TIC  is by far the most visited, with nearly 150,000 people through their doors.  Bearing in mind that tourism is worth £550,000 to Pembrokeshire, it seems reasonable to suggest that not having a coastal ‘A’ road would be an economic disaster, not only for the tourism businesses but for all the attendant businesses that rely on the wealth and job creation associated with them. This would not just effect the St David’s peninsular, most of the visitors are day trippers, this will effect the whole of Pembrokeshire and beyond.

Talking to our customers reveals that the view approaching Newgale is iconic, and one of the few places in Pembrokeshire that the sea can be viewed from a coach. For many, it is a highlight of their visit to the peninsula and they would not consider a trip if the route was inland. Whilst it may not be possible to put a monetary value on a view, the shear volume of visitors commenting that the view is something that will stick in their minds must be taken into account.

We strongly urge that PCC should investigate the cost benefits of maintaining and reinforcing the sea defences to keep the road in its present location. If this turns out not to be possible then members agreed that in their opinion the best option for visitors and residents would be to relocate the road in a position that maintains the view and runs as close to the existing route as is practical, certainly within sight of Newgale Beach. Further more it was felt that a well designed causeway could in fact enhance the visitor experience to Pembrokeshire.

It has been hinted that an alternative would be to use the existing road network directing much of the traffic towards the northern Fishguard to St Davids A487. This would be wholly unacceptable to the businesses in Solva, taking away all passing trade. It would be equally unacceptable if nothing is done before the road at Newgale becomes unusable. Members feel strongly that an alternative must be put in place before the road is lost, one or more seasons without the road would be financially disastrous for all  those in businesses.

Members also expressed concern, given the potential seriousness of the matter, about the current consultation process and the limited period open for responses. The consultation has hardly been publicised, there has only been one public meeting, most of those who will be affected are still unaware of the potential impact and therefore unable to enter into the consultation process. This gives the impression that the road is unimportant to PCC. If the number responding is seen as fairly small compared to the number using the road please do not take this as an indication that the road is unimportant us.

We believe everyone living and working on the peninsula would be unanimous in supporting either a further review of the feasibility and then the reinforcing of the sea defences or if this remains untenable then the preferred alternative route – a causeway across the valley. Surely the most cost effective and obvious route from an implementation point of view involving only approx 1km of new road. All other options would result in the dramatic decline of the Pembrokeshire economy.

We have attached a summary compiled after the Solva Business Group Meeting, and would be very happy to have a meeting to discuss the summary and the questionnaire.

Our members have a number of questions we would be grateful if you could answer.

What and when is the next stage of this process?

  1. What figures are you using to estimate the value of the A478 Newgale road to the  economy of the St Davids peninsular?
  2. What timescale are you working to in order to devise and implement a solution?
  3. After this initial consultation is the funding now in place to continue to the next stage?
  4. How do you intend to keep the public informed about this ongoing process?

We look forward to hearing from you,

Bella Prickett

Solva Business Group