The biggest hurdle to Bala Lake Railway getting planning permission for an extension has apparently been resolved.
Bala Lake Railway Trust chairman Julian Birley said when the planning application for the extension to the railway was refused in April the main reason was “the serious concern that with the possibility of an increase in visitors to Bala it would overload the Bala wastewater treatment works, resulting in an increase in the phosphates being discharged into the river Dee”.
“Bala treatment works was granted a phosphate permit in July,” Julian explained.
“It determined the phosphate limit permitted for the town.
“Having established that limit it was then down to Dŵr Cymru to determine the headroom between that limit and the current performance of the works.”
Julian said a statement by Dŵr Cymru offers hope for the railway.
The statement, issued on 27 September, said: “I can confirm that an AMP (Asset Management Plan) scheme is due to complete by 2025 which will enable an increase in organic loading and there is currently headroom to accept the additional phosphate loading from your proposed development and still meet the 5mg/l back stop limit.”
Julian said: “The significance of the news cannot be underestimated.
“It really is the breakthrough we have all been striving for.
“However, we are not there yet. There were other reasons cited for refusal but we are confident we can supply the relevant information to satisfy the planning committee.”
Julian added: “Thanks to everyone’s incredible generosity we have been able to commission further surveys.
“The noise and vibration survey has been carried out at a cost of £3,000.
“This demonstrates that a train arriving in Bala will not cause undue disturbance.
“We are about to embark on the Dust and Odour Survey. This, at a cost of £5,000, will assess the air quality surrounding a small steam engine such as the ones we operate.
“The archaeological dig in Bala and Pen y Bont (at a cost of £20,000) has satisfied the concerns that there is nothing of relevance under the ground where the railway will be built.
“This is the level of detail we have to go to and there is further work to do.
“We are confident that we can provide satisfactory answers to the outstanding queries, so with this massive boost to the project please, please continue to donate to help us get the revised application in by Christmas.
“We are within £25,000 of our target.”
The Bala Lake Railway Trust is raising £3.5 million as part of the Red Dragon Project to construct the extension of the Bala Lake Railway into the centre of the town of Bala.
Bala Lake Railway has operated since 1972 between Llanuwchllyn and Bala station, which is currently half a mile out of the town itself.
A new station is planned in Aran Street, Bala, near one end of the High Street, which will benefit the shops and cafés in the town.
The unprecedented support from the people of Bala shows that it is not just the railway that wants these plans to succeed.
To donate, visit www.paypal.com/gb/fundraiser/charity/3218420