Judicial review granted after plans agreed for a wind turbine across the estuary from Dylan Thomas’ writing shed
A judicial review into a planning decision to allow a wind turbine at the centre of an iconic view – enjoyed and celebrated by the poet Dylan Thomas – has been granted.
It comes six months after Carmarthenshire’s planning committee voted in favour of the development at Mwche farm, Llansteffan, despite council officers recommending its refusal.
The 45m turbine would be visible across the estuary from Dylan Thomas’ Boathouse and writing shed in Laugharne.
Shadow Welsh Heritage, Culture and Tourism Minister Suzy 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.
She described the decision in June as “daft” and said allowing the turbine at such a celebrated site will ‘stoke resentment against renewable energy’.
It comes a century on from the birth of the poet, and as celebrations of his life are under way.
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 report said: “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.”
In granting the judicial review, Judge Milwyn Jarman QC said the opponents’ claim was ‘arguable’, meaning it will proceed to a full hearing in Cardiff some time in the New Year.
Laugharne residents challenged the council’s decision on a number of grounds, including that the planning committee acted ‘irrationally’ in departing from their officer’s advice on landscape and cultural heritage harm.
The committee had been advised that the turbine would be a “discordant element and an alien intrusion within an historic landscape of exceptional sensitivity”.
The Judge also considered it arguable that the committee took into account an inaccurate statement made by Councillor Daf Davies, who told the committee that the location of the proposed turbine was obscured from the Dylan Thomas Boathouse by woodland. The committee had also refused to conduct a site visit to the Laugharne side of the estuary.
Local residents’ barrister, Anabel Graham Paul, who lives in Llandovery, Carmarthenshire said: “This is a great step forward for the claim as it means that he council’s decision-making process will be given full scrutiny by the High Court at an oral hearing.
“The residents behind the legal action are to be congratulated on getting things off the ground and seeking to take the council to task in respect of this highly controversial decision”.
The council has been asked to comment.
A spokeswoman at Cardiff Civil Justice Centre said: “The application for a judicial review has been before his honour Judge Jarman and permission has been granted. We are looking to schedule that hearing in the New Year, sometime in January or February.”
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