Press statement from Shell Island
13 April 2017
Snowdonia Aerospace LLP limits emergency services access to Shell Island
Future of much-loved campsite thrown into doubt
The owners of Shell Island in Gwynedd have been advised by their agents that the tenant of Llanbedr Airfield, Snowdonia Aerospace LLP, has withdrawn guaranteed 24-hour emergency services access to its coastal campsite, one of the largest in Europe.
The main access route to Shell Island is via a causeway which is cut off by the tide twice a day. Emergency vehicles have had high-tide access through Llanbedr Airfield, which is owned by the Welsh Government, for over fifty years. Snowdonia Aerospace LLP has been a tenant of the airfield since 2012.
From April, but only on a temporary basis and at the discretion of the tenant of Llanbedr Airfield, emergency services seeking access to Shell Island during high tides will be obliged to call a mobile number issued by Snowdonia Aerospace LLP. Snowdonia Aerospace LLP say they will open the access gate in an emergency only at times of high tide subject to the availability of their contact, so that the services can be escorted over the airfield.
This follows previous assurances that Snowdonia Aerospace LLP had made that the company would not wish to infringe upon emergency services access in any way.
Snowdonia Aerospace LLP initially proposed on short notice to stop any kind of emergency vehicle access across the airfield by the end of March, which could have forced the closure of Shell Island just as the holiday season was set to commence.
The latest move to allow temporary access for the emergency services follows requests made by Shell Island’s agents, the emergency services, and the directors of Shell Island themselves. There has also been the intervention by the local MP.
The negotiations to make this temporary arrangement more permanent continue, however Snowdonia Aerospace LLP have advised that the current arrangement is ‘temporary’ and Shell Island fears that they may renew their threat to completely withdraw access in the near future.
Richard Workman, director of Shell Island said:
“We do not believe that the course of action chosen by Snowdonia Aerospace LLP is fair or necessary but it is clear to us that it is associated with the company’s ambitions to develop the site as a Spaceport.
“We don’t believe anyone has a right to stop emergency services from reaching people in need and distress and we are urgently seeking to clarify the legality of their decision to block what has been an agreed emergency access route for many decades.
“Our beautiful coastal site has been a much-loved holiday destination for generations of visitors to North Wales, and it provides significant employment for many families in our local community. We are now all facing an uncertain future.
“It’s unthinkable that any form of new development at the airfield could come at the expense of local jobs and long-established family businesses. It troubles us deeply that the recent Economic Impact Assessment for the proposed Spaceport development and access improvements at Llanbedr completely failed to take this into account.”
The Easter bank holiday weekend is one of the busiest periods of the year for Shell Island, which welcomes around 85,000 holidaymakers and day trippers every year. At 450 acres, Shell Island is one of the biggest campsites in Europe, supporting the employment of 87 seasonal employees and 21 full time staff.
Gwynedd Council and the emergency services say they are satisfied that the campsite can continue to receive visitors in the short term, but all visitors must be made aware of the current emergency services situation so that they can make their own decision about risk.
Mr Workman added:
“The well-being and safety of our valued employees and our many loyal visitors is our number one priority. We have first aid provision on site and are advising everyone who comes on to the campsite of the current situation so that they can assess the risks for themselves and decide whether to stay with us.
“In the meantime, we will continue our dialogue with Snowdonia Aerospace LLP, and we will seek to clarify our position with the Welsh Government, who own the Llanbedr Airfield site and who we hope, as owners, will intervene in this matter in the best interests of all concerned.
“We don’t want to even contemplate closure so we very much hope we hope that we can find a constructive way forward.”
Shell Island is inviting anyone who is concerned about the withdrawal of guaranteed permanent emergency services access to sign their petition to Welsh Government at Change.Org