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Nuclear cloud lifted over former military site; TRECWN: Fresh hope for jobs.

Byline: CERI JONES

A FORMER munitions depot, which has been at the centre of a nuclear storage controversy, is to be sold.

Following a court case last week, Trecwn in Pembrokeshire is to have a new owner.

The decision will mean that the nuclear threat, which has hung over the area for the past few years, is likely to be lifted and the site could be developed to create much-needed jobs.

A number of prospective purchasers of the site are already lined up and could take over within months.

Anglo-Irish consortium Omega Pacific bought the site from the MoD for pounds 329,000 in 1998 and promised to help revive Pembrokeshire's ailing economy through a multi-million pound investment creating 400 aeroengine jobs.

However, its plan was thrown off course by a tightening of European noise controls and the site later became the centre of controversy after the consortium earmarked its extensive underground caverns for the storage of nuclear waste.

A dispute between the two parties of the consortium - WR Trust and Dublin-based Omega Air - stalled any other development and the site has remained deserted.

At a county court hearing in Manchester last week the dispute was finally resolved and the two parties ordered to sell the site. If they cannot agree who is to sell it within five weeks then a judge will decide.

Alan Parker of WR Trust said yesterday that a buyer had already been found and contracts were being drawn up. He estimated the sale would take 16 to 20 weeks to finalise. Although he would not name the prospective buyer, he described the company as ``very, very big'' and said it would lease Trecwn off for industrial space. The company had first shown an interest in the site a year ago and had been waiting for the court case to be resolved.

``I think you will see Trecwn come alive again. I hope it goes through. It will be jobs for people in the area. All this nuclear stuff has gone.''

However, Ulick McEvaddy of Omega Air, which disassociated itself from the nuclear plan a year ago, said there were a number of prospective buyers including the possibility that Omega might buy out the other share.

``The site will be sold. I would have liked to have done something constructive with it. It has tremendous potential,'' he said.

Preseli Pembrokeshire MP Jackie Lawrence said she was very pleased that the site would be sold.

Sheila La Croix of the Pembrokeshire anti nuclear group, Pana, said a sale would be the best thing that could happen. ``Provided that whoever takes over does not give us a repeat performance of what we have had over the last few years,'' she said.

The new buyer will take over almost 1,200 acres of land, 250,000 sq ft of industrial buildings, 18 miles of railway and 58 storage caverns.

Timeline

u 1938 - Trecwn built in a remote rural valley near Fishguard to manufacture and store munitions for the war effort. Never discovered by Luftwaffe bombers. At its peak during the war and Cold War days, it employed hundreds of men and women; u 1995 - End of the Cold War signals the end of Trecwn and it is closed with the loss of 500 jobs; u 1995 - MoD agrees sale to PAS/Otto which plans to use the depot for document storage. The sale is later abandoned after it is revealed MoD failed to follow Crichel Down rules, whereby former MoD land must first be offered to the original owners; u 1997 - MoD agrees sale to Alexmatic of London, which wants to transform the depot into an industrial estate. Sale is again abandoned; u 1998 - Sale agreed to Omega Pacific, which plans to use the site to re-engineer jet planes; u 2000 - Omega Pacific announces that the site will be promoted for storage of low-to-medium nuclear waste.
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jun 14, 2002
Words:647
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