The Dylan Thomas Memorial Wind Turbine (published by Y Cneifiwr)
A decision by Carmarthenshire County Council’s planning committee earlier this year (see previous posts here and here) to grant permission for a wind turbine at Mwche Farm in Llansteffan is to be challenged in court in a judicial review which will be heard in the New Year.The turbine will be visible from Dylan Thomas’s Boathouse and writing shed in Laugharne, and residents argue that the planning committee acted irrationally in rejecting advice from planning officers that the turbine would be a “discordant element and an alien intrusion within an historic landscape of exceptional sensitivity”.The High Court also considered it grounds for a review that the Committee took into account an inaccurate statement made by Councillor Daff Davies at the planning meeting, who told the Committee that the location of the proposed turbine was obscured from the Dylan Thomas Boathouse by woodland. The Committee refused to conduct a site visit to the Laugharne side of the estuary.
This once again throws the spotlight on Cllr Daff Davies, who is Chair of Council and in effect the “first citizen” of Carmarthenshire, representing the county and its people to the wider world, although his local community council decided that he was not fit to chair their meetings. Whether he is fit to chair the County Council is something you will be able to decided for yourselves when you can see him in action at today’s meeting of the full council.
In siding with the applicant, who happens to be a personal friend, and going against the clear wishes of the people he was elected to represent, Cllr Davies was acting in the veritable traditions of the county’s “Independent” group – a world of funny handshakes and often murky business interests.
Of wider concern is that the legal challenge is likely to cause other councillors on the planning committee to get cold feet when it comes to rejecting planning officers’ recommendations in more deserving cases.
It is still relatively rare for councillors to reject the advice of planning officers, and on a number of occasions when they have rebelled, behind-the-scenes arm twisting has ensured that decisions on controversial schemes (e.g. housing developments at Penybanc and Waungilwen) have been reversed.
Sadly, Elmer’s legacy is likely to be hang like a cloud of slurry fumes over communities across Carmarthenshire for years to come.