- Posted by: Joyce Watson MS
- Category: Feature
Mid and West Wales AM, Joyce Watson has called on the Welsh Government to support Carmarthenshire’s cockle pickers and prioritise improvements to Llanelli’s sewage system.
Mrs Watson is a member of the Assembly Petitions Committee that carried out an inquiry into the impact of mass cockle mortalities at Burry Inlet and Carmarthen Bay. The report was in response to a petition calling for a public inquiry into sewage pollution of the Burry Inlet, which collected more than 2,200 signatures.
Speaking in the last Assembly question time before the summer recess (18 July), the Labour AM asked Environment Minister, John Griffiths AM, whether he had considered the committee’s findings. She said:
“I appreciate that you will respond to the recommendations that we have made in due course, but, as we are about to break for recess, you will appreciate that everyone connected with the cockle industry in Carmarthenshire will want reassurances that the Welsh Government is on top of this, particularly in light of the new single body for environmental management, and that it will treat the sewage system in the Llanelli area as a priority.”
Cockle gatherers have witnessed mass cockle mortalities every year since 2002. However, the petitioners claim that significant sewage spills in 2005 made the situation worse.
In response, Mr Griffiths said he was “encouraged” by the work that is underway to deal with sewage problems in the area, but argued that sewage was not the cause of cockle mortality. He said:
“I welcome the final report from the committee and I will be formally responding in due course. We had a recent report on cockle mortality and it did not show a relationship with the sewage issues in that area. However, Dŵr Cymru has announced a considerable programme of work that will deal with many of the issues, building on what it has already done, and I think that will address some of those sewage problems. I visited the area recently and I am encouraged by the amount of work that will go ahead.”