West Wales News Review

Economy, environment, sustainability

Archive for the tag “One Planet Development”

Latest One Planet Development Approved in Pembrokeshire

News: Number of One Planet Developments in Wales Continues to Rise

Daniel Badham’s plan for an off-grid One Planet Development (OPD) at Reynalton, for him and his children, was passed unanimously by Pembrokeshire County Council’s planning committee on Tuesday March 10th, although some committee members have continuing concerns about the practicality of the annual reports that OPD residents must submit to prove they are abiding by their business plan and the requirements of the Welsh Government’s OPD legislation. Planning officers are hard-pressed already, and reading, analysing and acting on the reports can be an additional burden.

The location for Mr Badham’s venture is 8.6 acres, including 5.4 acres of woodland, about 100 metres north-east of Reynalton and six miles north-west of the seaside resort of Saundersfoot. The scheme includes a four-bedroom timber-frame house with a polycarbonate roof covered by turf, and a greenhouse at the south wall. There would be a timber store, workshop, barn and two polytunnels, and as well as producing timber and food, the land would be home to chainsaw carving and apple-tree grafting enterprises. The committee heard that Daniel Badham, whose professional expertise is in tree surgery, intends to include the use of a chainsaw powered by solar energy.

In an OPD, the land is supposed to provide for the needs of its occupants within five years. The policy was published by the Welsh Government in 2009, and was followed in 2010 by Technical Advice Note (TAN) 6, ‘Planning for Sustainable Rural Communities’, and in 2012 by detailed guidance for applicants and planners.* The big idea is to live continuously within the resources of planet Earth, thus in a simpler fashion than in countries like Wales, where the levels of material consumption are so high that the planet cannot support them into the future.

This productive holding at Tir y Gafel, Pembrokeshire, given permission under Policy 52, predates the One Planet Policy and operates to even more stringent criteria.

The volunteer-run One Planet Council reports that by winter 2019, Wales had at least 27 successful OPD applications, comprising 30 separate holdings, and 12 ventures on three sites in Pembrokeshire, including nine at the well-known Lammas ecovillage, which received permission under Pembrokeshire’s earlier pioneering Policy 52. Two-thirds of the total of known OPDs are in Pembrokeshire, with most of the rest elsewhere in West, South and Mid Wales, and as yet scarcely any in North Wales.

The One Planet Council organises an annual Open Week, in 2020 from Monday July 27th to Sunday August 2nd, when people curious about OPDs can visit several and ask the occupants about their lifestyles and businesses. Details will be on http://www.oneplanetcouncil.org.uk/open-week-2020/ in due course, and on the One Planet Council’s Facebook page.

The One Planet policy is unique to Wales, and although organisations such as the Ecological Land Cooperative have long lobbied for one, there is no equivalent policy for low-impact living in England.


* One Planet Development Practice Guidance, October 2012, prepared for the Welsh Assembly Government by Land Use Consultants and the Positive Development Trust.




News: One Planet Smallholding Plan Divides Local Opinion

A One Planet Development application for Penybanc, Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire, has drawn criticism from some local residents, as well as warm support from several others who back the project for many reasons such as being ‘forward thinking”, “carefully considered” and “in harmony with our environment”.

Looking south-east over part of the application site, backed by mature woodland.


Manordeilo and Salem Community Council “strongly objects” to the application by Claire and Matthew Denney-Price of Llangadog, Carmarthenshire. The community council cites 11 reasons including worries about water availability, siting of solar panels, lack of public transport, and over-optimism in the business plan.

These concerns were repeated in other objections. For example, if the family’s four children cycled to school they would have to negotiate single-track lanes without paths, and cross the A40 Llandeilo bypass. The distances are not huge – 1.7 miles to primary school and 2.3 miles to comprehensive school – but there are no cycle paths from Penybanc to Llandeilo, and along the lanes, lacking speed limits, vehicles were observed this week travelling too fast to stop quickly in an emergency. The barriers to eco-friendly travel highlight the difficulties of trying to live an environmentally sound lifestyle safely in a mechanised world where roads – even twisty lanes dating from the before the Industrial Revolution – are regarded as existing principally for motor vehicles.

The family has now been assured that their children will be taken to their schools by bus from Penybanc, and so will not need to cross the A40. This removes one of the objections..

The pony in the background will be one of two working on the land and supplying manure briquettes for heating. 


The 8.9-acre application site is at grid reference SN618245, between Cwmwern and Caegroes farms, north of Penybanc hamlet. The land, part pasture and part deciduous woodland, slopes southwards to the Nant Gurrey Fach, which flows into the Tywi north of Llandeilo. The management plan states that rain will be a main water source, there will be a composting toilet, two ponies will be used for work around the holding to avoid compacting the soil and because they will not consume fossil fuels. In addition, their manure will be compacted into briquettes for heating. Other sources of income and self-sufficiency include honey, point-of-lay pullets, eggs, herbs, fruit, vegetables, and salads.

Commenting on the criticisms, Claire Denney-Price said: “I’m in the process of composing a supporting document addressing some concerns raised by local residents. We have a lot of support, including from the One Planet Council and One Planet Centre, which is very heartening.”

Single carriageway lane bordering the site near Penybanc: on routes like this fast motor vehicles can create problems for other road users. 

 One Planet applications must be accompanied by detailed financial projections showing how at least 65% of basic household needs will be supplied from the land after no more than five years. “We’ve had great feedback which all helps our cause,” said Claire.








News: Councillors Keen to Learn More About One Planet Developments

Wales’ One Planet Development policy for environmentally beneficial farms and smallholdings is almost a decade old, and thanks largely to supporters including the voluntary One Planet Council, has become an important part of rural regeneration especially in West Wales.

One of the latest applications, by Brendan and Ludka Powell, drew questions from Carmarthenshire County Council’s planning committee when they considered it on October 17th. The committee approved the project, with no votes against and only two abstentions, but Cllr Joseph Davies (Manordeilo & Salem, Independent) wondered about the feasibility of the Powells’ business plan. He wondered if he had “wasted my life really” working on the land, when the business plan indicated that six acres could support a family of two adults and three children. “Who is looking at these figures?” he asked, referring to the predicted over £2,000 a year from honey bees, £1,000 from selling fermented vegetables, and £4,000 from selling vegetables.  “Where can they get all this produce from?” he wondered.

He was assured that an agricultural adviser had examined the figures and reckoned they could be sustainable, although there would be some risks.

Cllr Carys Jones (Llansteffan, Plaid Cymru) said she would like to see an up-and-running One Planet Development, and asked about an exit strategy if the enterprise failed to meet the criteria (a minimum of 65% of basic household needs from the land within five years). Planning officer Charlotte Greves replied that the Powells have an exit strategy in their management plan, and that newly constructed buildings could be removed if the project ended.

Llangeler’s Cllr Ken Howell (Plaid Cymru), also keen to see an OPD in operation, said he would like to be able to advise potential applicants in his ward about One Planet Developments.

Committee chair Cllr Alun Lenny (Carmarthen Town South, Plaid Cymru) agreed that it would be a good idea for the committee to learn more about the One Planet policy in operation, and commented that OPDs accord with the council’s own ambition to be carbon-neutral by 2030.

The Powells’ application, on former smallholding land at Parc y Rhodyn, Hebron, Whitland, is for horticultural and silvicultural enterprises requiring a tree nursery, herb garden, vegetable-growing area, an existing and two new polytunnels, a workshop, processing unit and office, and an extended shed, as well as a house. The buildings would be timber-framed and larch-clad.


News: Open Week is Chance to See One Planet Development in Action

In the week starting Monday July 22nd 2019, to Sunday July 28th, a selection of One Planet Developments in Wales will open up to visitors.

In 2018 a similar Open Week familiarised members of the public with One Planet Development, a policy of the Welsh Government.  Although a decade old, the policy still draws criticism from some as a back-door way of building a new home in the countryside.

One Planet Developments (OPDs) are smallholdings from which the occupants have to draw at least 65% of their basic household needs. The policy, explained in One Wales: One Planet – the sustainable development scheme of the Welsh Government, published in 2009, superseded the earlier and even more stringent Policy 52 of Pembrokeshire County Council and the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park.  The nine smallholdings in the televised Lammas eco village at Tir y Gafel, Glandŵr, Pembrokeshire, were given permission under Policy 52.

By late May 2019, Wales had more than 40 smallholdings given planning permission under either Policy 52 or One Planet Development.  The majority are in Pembrokeshire, with rising numbers in Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire and a scattering elsewhere in Wales.

One Planet Developments like this one in Pembrokeshire benefit biodiversity and generally improve the soil, so that fertility increases year on year. 

Pembrokeshire’s Cllr Huw George called in April[i] for a halt to new One Planet permissions, so that Welsh Government can properly monitor and assess whether the smallholdings are being managed fully in accordance with the requirements of the policy. He felt it unfair that applicants could receive permission for eco homes but farmers could not build homes for their children.

This view is not uncommon. The policy was introduced not to spite farmers but to assist Wales’ transition to a One Planet world. The Welsh Government decided that current levels of resource use and the consequent environmental damage are unsustainable given that there is only one Earth and not multiple others. One Planet Developments are off-grid, produce their own energy and much of their own food, and organise their own water supply and drainage. Vehicle use is restricted. Buildings are constructed of local renewable materials. Running a One Planet venture is hard work, the outputs and inputs have to be carefully recorded and sent off to the local planning authority for annual monitoring.

Monitoring, the concern raised by Cllr George, is difficult for local authorities which have been forced by funding shortfalls to cut services every year since 2010. The Institute for Fiscal Studies warned in September 2016 that departmental expenditure limits in Wales in 2019-20 would be 11.6% lower than in 2010-11. The monitoring of One Planet Developments is a task that did not exist in 2010, and as the number of permissions rises, will become more onerous. Between 2010 and 2020 councils in England and Wales will have lost almost 60p in every £1 previously received from the Westminster government, leaving them increasingly reliant on council tax, business rates, and grants from anywhere and everywhere, as well as monies that councils raise themselves from rents, charges, interest and dividends. So Cllr George has a point – when planning departments have less money, how can they monitor growing numbers of OPDs?

This is just one of the difficulties associated with the policy. In theory, if occupants fail to produce 65% of their basic needs from the land, or otherwise contravene the conditions of their permission, that permission can be withdrawn and they would have to leave. This is a harsh outcome if the failures are due to factors beyond their control, such as terrible weather, flood or drought, illness or accident, or advancing old age, and indicates that the policy still needs several tweaks.

Two more OPDs received permission from Pembrokeshire County Council on May 21st. Both are in the area of Mynachlog-ddu Community Council, which objected to both.  Hywel Vaughan, chair of the community council, was critical of the planning officer’s recommendation to approve the ventures, and he wrote about the second: “Although it is difficult to oppose the application because several specialists representing different organisations support the application, residents of the community are worried about the adverse damage this development will have on the area’s beauty.”

Cllr David Howlett said “the policy is being used to plonk properties in rural areas”, and Cllr Michael Williams called the policy “fundamentally flawed”.  Despite these reservations, one application was approved unanimously and the other by a majority of eight to one.

The first application approved, 18/0934/PA, is on 2.7 hectares (almost 7 acres) at Parc y Dderwen, formerly part of Pencraig Farm, Llangolman, for Lauren Simpson’s and Phil Moore’s fermented foods enterprise. Launched in 2018, the business already supplies 16 shops with foods including sauerkrauts, pickles and kimchi. Michael Ritchie of Bryngolman Farm, Llangolman, representing “a number of objectors”, said the business was already established, so there was no need to live on the land. The proposed site for the house was on top of a ridge, he said, and other buildings were too large and strung out over the site with “all the visual appeal of an urban allotment”. “It’s an elaborate attempt to get a smallholding on the cheap,” he said. But the objection did not succeed.

Parc y Dderwen will include an orchard, market garden, polytunnel, workshop and cold store, with bees, poultry, new woodland, hedgerows and ponds contributing to biodiversity. The house would be a design by Mark Waghorn[ii] of Llandeilo, who specialises in One Planet, ultra-low-impact structures.

Lauren Simpson and Phil Moore have both worked for the Ecological Land Co-operative[iii]. This co-op provides land for smallholdings in England, where demand is high but there is no similar policy to One Planet Development.

The second application approved, 18/1126/PA, by Rory Horton and Etta Happe, was for Baradwys, formerly known as Rhosfach, a larger area of 9 hectares (22 acres) near Llangolman. The original idea for a herd of alpacas was broadened to include Angora rabbits when part of the land was revealed as a habitat for the rare Marsh Fritillary butterfly. This habitat will be managed in co-operation with Natural Resources Wales and cannot be fully utilised for alpacas. Angora rabbits need less space than alpacas and also provide quality fibres for natural textiles.

The land will accommodate two polytunnels, a caravan until a permanent home is built, a barn, studio, and agricultural buildings including one for the rabbits and two field shelters for alpacas.

These two enterprises are in their very early stages, but for people keen to visit established OPDs, the Open Week will be a good opportunity. More information about the Open Week, organised through the One Planet Council, will be available before July 22nd.

The One Planet Council / Cyngor Un Blaned, representing enterprises established under the policy, has an informative website at http://www.oneplanetcouncil.org.uk/ and a Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/groups/oneplanetcouncil/.



[i] ‘Put a stop to eco-homes being built, says councillor’, BBC News online, April 29th 2019.

[ii] https://www.mwd.wales/studio

[iii] Ecological Land Cooperative: Our Team https://ecologicalland.coop/contact .

Ffyrdd gefnogi’r Gymraeg fel iaith fyw: ychydig o syniadau

English version follows the Welsh. Yes, there are mistakes!

Ffyrdd gefnogi’r Gymraeg fel iaith fyw: ychydig o syniadau

Bydd y Gymraeg yn cael trafferth i oroesi fel iaith fyw oni bai ei fod yn ganolog ym mywydau pob dydd o’r siaradwyr. Mae’r nod hwn yn dibynnu mwy ar benderfyniadau cynllunio i gefnogi cymunedau drwy bob cyfnod bywyd, nag ar gefnogaeth i’r iaith fel y cyfryw.

Gwnewch TAN 20 yn ystyrlon!

Ar hyn o bryd, mae TAN 20 yn gasgliad o ddyheadau amwys. Mae angen rhoi pwyslais i ganolbwyntio ar ddefnyddio’r system gynllunio i gadw yn iach y cylchred bywyd cymunedol: caniatau datblygu ar gyfer hunan-gyflogaeth a chyflogaeth mewn mentrau cymunedol mewn cymunedau gwledig; gan roi gwerth mwy fawr i hygyrchedd  lleol uwchlaw arbedion maint mewn addysg i 16 oed; drwy annog adeiladau ‘carbon ultra-isel’ ac  ‘dim carbon’; drwy bentrefannau eco ‘Un Blaned’; a chefnogi ffurfio ymddiriedolaethau tir cymunedol i ddarparu cartrefi fforddiadwy ar gyfer aelwydydd sy’n ennill cyflogau lleol nodweddiadol.  Gallai banc buddsoddiad, i gefnogi mentrau lleol, yn gwneud gwahaniaeth mawr.

Mae torwyr cylched yn cynnwys cau ysgolion cynradd gwledig, cau ysgolion uwchradd mewn trefi fach, a’r amharodrwydd i gymeradwyo datblygiadau ‘Un Blaned’. Mae llywodraeth lleol yn gyfarwydd i ‘Fawr yn Dda’ o ran datblygiadau ac i ‘Fyr yn Dda’ o ran gorwel amser.

Mae ardaloedd yn colli poblogaeth a gwasanaethau, gwasanaethau sy’n weddill yn dod yn fwy costus i’w ddarparu y pen o’r boblogaeth, ac felly mae’r cylch negyddol o golli gwasanaethau yn parhau. Er bod manteision o costau llai yn y tymor byr, colli glyniad a colli gwytnwch mewn cymunedau gwledig yw’r canlyniad tymor hwy, ac bydd yr iaith yn perygl ddifrifol.

Ways to support Welsh as a living language: a few ideas

Welsh will struggle to survive as a living language unless it is central in the everyday lives of speakers. ’ This aim depends more on planning decisions to support communities through every life stage, than on supports for the language per se.

Make TAN 20 meaningful!

At present TAN 20 is a collection of vague aspirations. Emphasis needs to change to focus on using the planning system to keep the circle intact – allowing development for self-employment and community enterprise employment in rural communities, placing local accessibility above economies of scale in education to age 16, encouraging ultra-low carbon and zero carbon ‘One Planet’ eco hamlets, and supporting the formation of community land trusts to provide homes affordable for households earning typical local wages. An investment bank for local enterprise could make a big difference.

Circuit breakers include the closure of rural primary and now small-town secondary schools, and planners’ reluctance to approve ‘One Planet’ developments. Local government is attuned to ‘big is good’ in development terms and to ‘short is good’ in time horizon terms. An area loses population and services, remaining services become more costly to provide per head of the population, and so the negative cycle of service loss continues. While there are often short-term cost benefits, the loss of cohesiveness and resilience in rural communities is the problematic longer-term outcome.

by Pat Dodd Racher

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