Thursday 19 February 2015

Doh! Duffer Daff's Daft Decision - Updated

News just in that the High Court has quashed Carmarthenshire County Council's controversial decision to approve a wind turbine at Mwche Farm, Llansteffan, overlooking Dylan Thomas's old home in Laugharne.

Readers may recall that the planning committee last year ignored planning officers' advice to reject the application, with local "Independent" county councillor and current Chair of Carmarthenshire County Council, Daff "Elmer Fudd" Davies, playing a key part in persuading the committee to support the turbine on his old friend's farm.

The County Council will now pay the claimants' full costs of £21,275 in addition to its own no doubt considerable legal bill. Not much change out of £50,000, then.

Elmer's disastrous year as Council Chair will come to an end in May, but he will no doubt continue to sit on the Planning Committee until the next local government elections scheduled for 2017. Such is his standing that he is currently vice chair of that august body.

The battle may not be over yet, however, because the High Court decided that the council could appeal the decision. An appeal would be madness, of course, but that has never stopped them before.


The full text of the judgement can be found here.

The principal reason for quashing planning permission was that despite proposals to screen the turbine with trees, the top part of the turbine could still clearly be seen across a wide area, and the decision to grant planning permission therefore flew in the face of legal requirements to take into account the  visual impact on a landscape of historical and cultural significance.

The judge makes short shrift of Daff Davies's contribution:

 The Committee considered the application at its meeting on 3rd June 2014. It was addressed by, among others Councillor D B Davies, who was the local member and had stood down from the Committee for the purposes of considering the application after declaring a personal interest. He made representations on the application, including a representation that the hill and application site were obscured from the boathouse by woodland. It is quite plain from looking at the photographs that his representation could carry no weight. The Committee could not have been misled, because the photomontage demonstrating the visual impact was exhibited at the Committee Meeting.

Or to put it another way, Daff Davies was spouting rubbish, as would have been obvious to anyone who examined the documents. In Carmarthenshire it would however be wrong to assume that all members of the planning committee actually go to the trouble of reading the reports or looking at the evidence before them.

The planning officers do not get off lightly either:

There is at best, some considerable confusion in the thinking of the Officer. It is not possible to read his words that "it will not give rise to any adverse environmental impact upon the surrounding area" in the context of his report which had taken great care to set out all of those impacts.

In other words, the officer listed all sorts of reasons why the proposals did not meet planning policy before concluding the exact opposite.

This is known to aficionados as a Carmarthenshire planning department handbrake turn.   


Anonymous said...

Voters take note! Vote wisely!

Jac o' the North, said...

A perfect example of what happens in rural areas where the 'Independent' / landowner clique has power.

Anonymous said...

"...the High Court decided that the council could appeal the decision. An appeal would be madness, of course, but that has never stopped them before."

Had the court not allowed leave to appeal then the outcome could have been even more disastrous. But I agree, any appeal may well be ill-advised and likely unsuccessful. However, and as you say, it has never stopped them before.

Lets hope linda 'law' rees jones understands the futility and advises that the matter is now put to rest.

Blodwen said...

I'm a bit surprised that the Council let the proceedings get as far as the High Court because when the Judge in Cardiff High Court agreed a few years ago that there were grounds for a Judicial Review of their decision to close St Catherine Street to traffic, the council quickly backed down and the street has remained open.

Perhaps later, more famous, successes in the High Court have coloured their views of litigation and given them a false sense that they are inviolate?

Unknown said...

If the council had put this money into solar panels for the new school (there are 8 panels for hot water!!!!) then that would have earned income/cut costs and benefited the budget instead of them squandering vast sums of money on legal costs that benefits no-one. Their continued arrogance is just astonishing. Every councillor should take the time to study the turbine issue and if they did their research properly they would find that this method of energy generation is ineffective and the carbon cost prohibitive (that is just getting the structure in place) - alternative energy is vital, but it has to be considered holistically. £53 million was paid out to landowners to turn off the turbines due to over-supply. There are nearly 1000 square miles of industrial roofs in the UK that could be used for the installation of solar panels. In such places the infrastructure is already in place to bring electricity in to the industries, therefore it is in place to take surplus away without the need for more hideous pylons that already blight our beautiful Welsh countryside. Before any more turbine applications are considered every councillor and AM needs to do some serious research about the efficacy of such monstrous structures and the way that they benefit the landowner at a cost to us all through the subsidies that are paid for out of our energy bills. Enough is enough - get the facts about damage to health, wild-life, visual pollution - etc.etc. If the planning committee had done their job properly and done research themselves then they would have had no alternative other than turning down the application right in the beginning.

Anonymous said...

You have to ask yourself if this application would have ever been approved without the enthusiastic representations and support of Cllr Davies. At least his fellow community councillors in Llansteffan and Llanybri had the balls to pass a motion of no confidence in him for his conduct in this matter.

Anonymous said...

Let's hope that CCC lay this wind turbine madness to rest now. These turbines are nothing but a money making scam!