Shropshire Star

Chirk Castle boss in war of words over Kronospan factory expansion

The manager of the National Trust's Grade 1 listed Chirk Castle has voiced his fears about the impact of the extension of a nearby factory.

Top: Kronospan. Bottom: Chirk Castle.

Shane Logan has criticised a decision by the planning inspector, who has given the go-ahead for an extension to house a new melamine press at Kronospan, despite Wrexham Council originally refusing permission for the expansion.

Factory bosses say the extension to house a new melamine press is needed to replace dated and inefficient machinery and represents a £20 million investment.

But Mr Logan said investment and job creation shouldn't come at the expense of public health or nearby landscapes.

He said: "We recognise the need for job creation and investment within our communities, but this must not be achieved at the expense of people’s health or the degradation of the associated landscape. Kronospan needs to seriously consider what environmental and corporate responsibility looks like for everyone.

"The National Trust fully supports the opinion – also held by the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Joint Committee – that this has been done within the setting of the protected landscape which impacts the views not only of Chirk Castle and the Site of Special Scientific Interest but also the World Heritage Site, as well as the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley AONB.

"To this end the submitted design access statement has also failed to recognise the relationship between the site and the associated natural and built heritage features which we all treasure. Furthermore, we do not accept that the planning inspector's limited summation that 'incremental growth of the complex might in some circumstances harm visual amenity'. This position does not go far enough and is wholly unacceptable.

"As an organisation we are also increasingly concerned about issues regarding air quality, noise and pollution that particularly affect our local residents, many of whom are also members of the National Trust."

Previously residents said they feared the new press would add to noise and dust issues they claim come from the factory.

Kronospan chairman Mike McKenna said he was "surprised" by the National Trust's stance on the expansion, as it had no direct impact on Chirk Castle and its gardens.

He said: "As far as we are concerned the planning inspector will have considered all the representations made in respect of the application for the melamine faced building before making the decision on our appeal.

"There is no direct impact on the registered park and garden of Chirk Castle other than the closed loop extraction system on top of the building, and the view of this is restricted by the local topography and existing vegetation.

"In the context of the existing industrial development, the development was not considered to significantly increase the impact on the historic environment.

"We have developed a landscape strategy which is currently with Wrexham Council for acceptance. National Trust representatives were involved in the development of this programme, which is intended to build on the successful planting programme that previously took place to screen the factory from view."