Public support key to future of Llanishen Reservoir

August 12, 2011 16 Comments »
Public support key to future of Llanishen Reservoir

Sailing at Llanishen Reservoir back in 1985

Campaigners fighting to save Llanishen Reservoir are appealing for public support to prove to an inquiry it has a future.

The supporters plan to dispute claims from owner Western Power Distribution that the 60-acre site could never be used for sailing again as restoring the facilities would be too expensive.

Western Power is understood to be using this argument to support their application to build 324 homes on the listed Victorian reservoir.

But when the public inquiry restarts next week, after a break of nearly a month, the Echo-backed campaigners hope to prove the US-owned electricity giant wrong.

The campaign, which has been fighting the development for a decade, has the support of Cardiff council and has received offers of help from people with the expertise to help rebuild the sailing facilities.

Baroness Jenny Randerson is now leading a bid to enlist more support.

She said: “I would urge the many people who feel strongly about this issue, and I know there are many thousands who do, to offer your help in kind and in expertise.

“That would be immensely helpful in showing that the community and the council are continuing to co-operate strongly to support sailing at Llanishen Reservoir as they have done throughout this campaign.”

Cardiff council’s operational manager, Simon Howell, has also written a letter which will be submitted to the inquiry underlining the local authority’s determination to support sailing at the reservoir.

He wrote: “I can confirm that the council’s intention remains to resume sailing activities at the reservoir as soon as water levels return to an appropriate level.

“The campaigners believe sailing could restart safely within four years, although it will not be full for around eight years.”

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  1. Dr. Christopher Wood August 12, 2011 at 1:05 pm - Reply

    An earth embankment dam reservoir with 2 million tons of water burst about a few years ago in Indonesia: “Indonesian Dam Burst floods hundreds of homes, with 150 people killed or missing”. The earth dam started to leak and quickly failed.

    The Llanishen reservoir is an earth embankment reservoir and is rated at 1.5 million tons and is at 45 metres elevation (about 49 yards elevation).

    There are hundreds of houses and a primary/junior school located on the downward facing side of Llanishen reservoir. RAG has recognized that there is a risk of the earth dam at Llanishen reservoir failing if it is refilled. More specifically, RAG previously stated that there is considerable risk of the earth embankment creating fissures as it dries out should the reservoir be drained.

    Llanishen reservoir has been drained and RAG now want it refilled even though it will take years to refill and parts of the embankment will undoubtedly dry out risking fissures, and should there by a rapid structural failure there would undoubtedly be serious risk of many fatalities and serious injuries among residents and anyone on the streets downstream of the reservoir.

    • Vonk August 16, 2011 at 12:48 pm - Reply

      Obviously has shares in Western Power!

    • Martyn W August 19, 2011 at 9:29 am - Reply

      So what. That dam was not engineered in the same way and earlier damage from previous year had not been addressed. Downriver flooding engorged that reservoir, its simply not comparable.

      The reservoir has been in existence for 122 years as has its neighbour and in times of drought these levels have dropped with no risk to anybody. Years have to pass for there to be a problem and just a couple of meters of water in the bowl will do the trick of enforcing the clay core and the glorious welsh weather will deliver the goods!

      An structural engineering report presented as evidence at the public enquiry states that the dam would not require any kind of remedial work for the next 50 to 60 years once refilled.

  2. carregbica August 12, 2011 at 2:23 pm - Reply

    Shameful scaremongering Dr Wood. Do you have any connection with Western Power?

  3. Dr. Christopher Wood August 12, 2011 at 3:54 pm - Reply

    Acutally, prior to the actual draining of the reservoir, the reservoir action group (RAG) obtained the services of "one of the most experienced and qualified water engineers in the country, Mr. Chris Binnie, to prepare a review of the situation".

    Mr. Chris Binnie wrote in his report that there would be likely structural damage to the clay core of the (Llanishen reservoir) dam if it was left empty for a long period, as clay must be kept wet. Fissures or cracks would develop, and in those circumstances it would be easy for a leak to spring.

  4. Phil Savage August 13, 2011 at 11:21 am - Reply

    To quote the Environment Agency's Environment Permitting decision document 233 08 SD50 Section 5.2 … ‘WPD’s appointed panel engineer has stated; [Reservoirs] can be expected to be substantially drawn — even to the extent of being virtually empty — during the course of the year without detriment to the integrity of the embankments. We have no concern about this reservoir standing empty for two or three years, particularly since any refilling would be under controlled conditions and the embankments would be monitored regularly during the operation.’
    Dr Andrew Hughes’s 2008 Reservoirs Act report called for only a temporary drain down to carry out survey work. WPDI ltd, produced a detailed report (June 2011) presented to the July Public Inquiry. In it Dr Andrew Hughes dismisses any concerns about dehydration of the listed clay cores of the dams, even if the reservoir were to remain empty for an extended period. Hughes's report declares the reservoir dam to be "in a generally sound condition" as did the two previous reports in 2004 and 1994.

  5. Phil Savage August 13, 2011 at 11:21 am - Reply

    Help save Llanishen Reservoir from this greedy multinational developer! Join our fundraising challenge walk 3rd Sept 2011 See for details.

  6. Dr. Christopher Wood August 13, 2011 at 5:26 pm - Reply

    Phil Savage> but RAG pointed out itself that Dr Hughes was in the dark about Mr. Chris Binnie's findings. Specifically, the Reservoir Action Group (RAG) argued in a "Their report, compiled by independent dams expert Chris Binnie and partly based on original Victorian documentation about the reservoir’s construction which was unavailable to Dr Hughes, warns that the impact of the drain down could be catastrophic."

    Again: RAG's own expert stated very clearly that "…the of the drain down could be catastrophic".

    Also, that there was documentation not available to Dr. Hughes; specifically that "original Victorian documentation about the reservoir’s construction which was unavailable to Dr Hughes".

    On one side RAG argued it would be unsafe to drain and then refill the reservoir and now RAG argues the opposite.

  7. David Cardiff August 14, 2011 at 12:23 pm - Reply

    Dr Wood, your comments would perhaps gain a modicum of credibility if you publicly declared that you're not linked in any way to WPD or any of its affiliates or staff. A wide-ranging debate is to be encouraged, but we all need to be up front. I have no links with WPD and am a member of Llanishen RAG.

  8. carregbica August 14, 2011 at 6:51 pm - Reply

    There is a blog for one Dr Christopher Wood, a lawyer, based in Washington DC but born and raised in Cardiff,Wales.

  9. Dr. Christopher Wood August 15, 2011 at 6:00 pm - Reply

    All it seems RAG supporters can do is make personal comments instead of focusing on the arguments I am presenting to the effect that it makes no rational sense to refill Llanishen Reservoir back up with over one million tons of water when that reservoir is sitting above hundreds of houses and a school. When the reservoir was built the school and many of the houses did not exist, but now there are hundreds of houses and at least one school (in reality there are at least two schools) on the downward facing flank of the reservoir. Llanishen Reservoir was built at about 49 yards (about 45 metres) elevation to supply water to Cardiff by means of gravity assist.

    I am not sure what my background has to do with the rational arguments I am presenting against refilling Llanishen Reservoir, but for the record: I have absolutely nothing at all to do with WPD, not now, not past and certainly not in the future. I am from Cardiff – born in Cardiff, one of my siblings was home birthed in a house in Llanishen, one of my brothers was nearly home birthed in Llanishen but the midwife said it would be a breach birth and so he was born in a hospital in Cardiff; my other two siblings were also born in Cardiff.

  10. Dr. Christopher Wood August 15, 2011 at 7:40 pm - Reply

    Also, I have no bother with the Llanishen Reservoir being turned into a nature park or anything that Cardiffians want. For example, turn the site back to what it was, an open green area and preserve the embankments to the extent they can be preserved, but please please, don't insanely refill the reservoir with 1.4 million tons of water, not with hundreds of houses and at least two schools in the line of fire should the embankment ever be compromised. RAG's own expert used the word "catastrophe".

    PS I attended both Cefn Onn Infant and Junior Schools in Llanishen; I married in Cardiff and had my wedding meal and my first night as a married man in a small hotel on Fidlas Avenue (later demolished to make way for apartments). I love Llanishen, as a child I would sit on a wall outside the church in Llanishen Village and wait for the marriage ceremony to climax (from my wee perspective) into the wedded couple emerging from the Church. I was one of the kids who would run quickly run between adults’ legs scooping up the coins thrown on the pathway and then run as fast as my legs would carry me to the sweet shop in Llanishen Village.

  11. vonk August 16, 2011 at 12:56 pm - Reply

    Western Power whose enviromental vandalism by draining the reservoirs is obviously hoping to inflict as much damage to the core of the reservoir now it's empty. Shame on you. Your company and it's actions are a public relations disaster!

  12. Dr. Christopher Wood August 16, 2011 at 1:47 pm - Reply

    Correction: "… my other two siblings were also born in Cardiff" should have read: "my other sibling was also born in Cardiff." I am one of four siblings all born in Cardiff and one of which was actually born in a house in Llanishen.

    Again: Western Power is not my employer; I don't work and have never worked for them in any capacity whatsoever.

    I would like to see the Llanishen Reservoir site turned into a nature reserve; however, the reservoir should never be refilled with over one million tons on water, not when it is located above hundreds of houses and at least one school.

    Do we really want to risk an Aberfan inside Cardiff for the sake of a few sailors who can sail on any suitable stretch of open water?

  13. cardiff_martian August 18, 2011 at 12:30 pm - Reply

    Please note some details from the current enquiry. Dr Andrew Hughes who actually wrote the Reservoirs Act report in 2008 which lead to the draining of the reservoir confirmed that all the recent inspections of the reservoir found the reservoir to be in good condition and safe to hold water up to top-water level. He added that it would be unlikely to need any remedial works, other than normal maintenance, for 50-60 years! He also confirmed that even if left empty or nearly empty for a number of years, it would not suffer damage to its clay core, and could be safely refilled.

  14. Dr. Christopher Wood August 19, 2011 at 9:24 pm - Reply

    Given that RAG's own expert (and hence RAG itself) argued that refilling the reservoir could be 'catastrophic' and given that there are hundreds of houses and at least one school are on the downward slope leading from the reservoir it makes a lot of sense not to refill the earth embankment reservoir. By all means build a nature park or return the site to its original state prior to building the artificial reservoir, but don't risk the lives of so many people by refilling the reservoir with over one million tons of water at about 49 yards elevation.

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