The saga of the Dylan Thomas Memorial Wind Turbine at Mwche Farm in Llansteffan has taken a new twist. Cllr Daff Davies vigorously supported the application (W/29387 which went to judicial review) and praised the environmental credentials of the applicant. However, it seems that rather less importance has been attached down on Mwche Farm to planning regulations and Carmarthenshire’s archaeological assets.
In 2010 the landowner was granted planning permission (W/21375) to erect a cattle shed on part of his land. One of the conditions attached to the permission was that an archaeologist must be present when any groundworks were undertaken.
Forward to August 2013, and the landowner decides to increase the size of the shed by more than 50%. The trouble is he forgets to apply for the necessary planning permission to do this.
In 2014 an enforcement officer is made aware of this breach, and in October the landowner (presumably on the advice of the officer) puts in a retrospective application for the extension (W/31560).
It’s not until 10th February 2015 that the application is validated by the planning department. On the 19th February the officer receives a reply to his inquiries from the Dyfed Archaeological Trust stating that no watching brief was undertaken by them on the original works as per condition 6 of the original permission, or for that matter on the subsequent extension. So the site of a “significant early-medieval chapelry” could have been totally destroyed.
The judicial review did not cost the landowner a penny. Had it gone in the Council’s favour, he would have benefited from a significant annual income from the turbine. So far it has cost the council/tax payer £21,275 plus its own legal bill. They fought for the option of an appeal, so there will already be additional legal costs for the consideration of this and the potential for more if they do decide to appeal.
Purely by coincidence the retrospective application was not validated until the judgement of the judicial review was due to be made public. It would not have looked very good for the council to be spending thousands supporting the application of a landowner who had breached planning regulations and perhaps destroyed some of the county's significant archaeological assets in doing so.
Coming soon: Mr James's Budget
I’m sure the CCC press office would have absolutely no trouble putting a positive spin on this.
Councillor Daff Davies has expressed a personal interest in a number of applications by this farmer as a close friend and business associate. Expressing an interest meaning perhaps that he is very interested in making sure that his friend and business associate gets what he wants regardless of 'codes of conduct and protocol' and general and specific requirements being fulfilled as part of the planning permission being granted. There is also the incident of the three storey agricultural worker's bungalow/mansion. The officers cited a great many reasons why this planning application should be refused - and yet despite the recommendations of the professional planning officers - the luxury farm worker's accommodation was passed (with no sensible or rational reason for so doing). Another classic example of CCC cronyism perhaps? Also against guidelines such a building should NOT be taken over by the farmer himself. It has been built outside the boundaries of the farm complex (as stipulated in regulations for NOT building in open countryside). Again councillor Daff Davies was involved in the planning procedure at the time. I expect retrospective planning was approved to regularise the situation - yet if some poor ordinary mortal put up a shed in the wrong place - or perhaps a wall, the council enforcement officers would quite likely be there hot foot and insist on the offending matter being removed.
How many other incidents of defying the rules go on in the rest of the county?
How many turbines applied for by SEREN have been refused by Carmarthenshire County Council. I think we should be told.
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