A planning decision to allow a 45m wind turbine at the centre of an iconic view – enjoyed and celebrated by the poet Dylan Thomas – has prompted anger among campaigners.
Carmarthenshire planning committee voted in favour of the development at Mwche farm, Llansteffan, despite officers recommending its refusal.
It will mean a dramatic addition the view from poet’s boat house across the estuary in Laugharne, something which opponents said could damage tourism.
Shadow Welsh Heritage, Culture and Tourism Minister Suzy Davies described the decision as ‘daft’ and said allowing the turbine at such a celebrated site will ‘stoke resentment against renewable energy’.
A spokesman for Carmarthenshire Council said planners felt the decision was ‘consistent with other decisions on similar developments in the county.’
Mrs Davies was among almost 500 people to lodge objections to the plans within sight of Laugharne Castle and the celebrated boathouse where Dylan wrote much of his work.
It comes a century on from the birth of the poet, and when a festival celebrating his life is under way in the town which inspired him.
Opponents say the turbine will blight a view that has attracted international tourists and Dylan fans for decades.
It was one of the issues identified by council officers in a report to the committee, which said: “Tourism within the county is a key economic driver, therefore the impact on tourism is said to be significant.”
It added that due to the centenary celebrations, Laugharne is the focus of ‘intensive promotion and publicity.’
“The proposed turbine would not have a direct impact on Laugharne itself, however would be sited within the vista from Dylan’s walk and may affect visitor’s perception of the attraction.”
Mrs Davies, who is a Welsh Conservative Regional AM for South Wales West, said: “Installing a wind turbine across the estuary at Laugharne is no way to celebrate the centenary of the birth of Dylan Thomas. Individual turbines have their place. Overlooking a special site of unique cultural importance and beauty isn’t such a place. Daft decisions like this will stoke resentment against renewable energy as a whole, risking support for more sensible plans.”
A design study into the turbine written by Leicestershire-based Hallmark Power Limited on behalf of the applicant – Griff Morris of Mwche Farm – said residents would not be affected by noise or shadow flicker from the blades.
It also concluded the volume of traffic that would be generated during construction of the turbine would not be more than the usual agricultural traffic at the farm.
In a statement members of the Taff Estuary Action Group described the decision is a ‘devastating blow’ to the local area and its economy that is so heavily reliant on tourism.
“There were nearly 500 objections to this proposal, yet Carmarthenshire councillors have over-ruled the council’s planning department to vote in favour of the 45m commercial wind turbine that will be a permanent blight over a site that is of historic and global importance.”
Laugharne Community councillor John Bradshaw, who opposed the application, said he was shocked and disappointed by the decision.
“That view is probably why Dylan Thomas came to Laugharne and it goes back much further than Dylan as well.”
A spokesman for Carmarthenshire council said planning officers would bring the application back to the committee giving detailed reasons for approving the scheme.
“The council’s head of planning has also been granted powers to set conditions on the application,” he added.
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