A High Court battle to stop a giant wind turbine being built opposite poet Dylan Thomas’ famous boathouse was launched by outraged campaigners today.
A judge heard the 147ft turbine was given planning permission by councillors who failed to view it from the celebrated writer’s famous home visited by tourists from around the world.
The towering turbine on farmland opposite the Welsh poet’s writing shed was approved against the advice of a senior council officer who said it would ruin the “iconic view”.
The writing shed in the picturesque village of Laugharne, West Wales, is where Thomas sat looking across the Taf estuary and penned some of his most celebrated poems including Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night.
A judicial review into the decision by Carmarthenshire council was told councillors did not visit the boathouse before rejecting their own conservation officer’s report advice to save the celebrated view.
Annabel Graham Paul, representing a campaign group of locals, said: “The National Trust described the landscape as of international cultural significance.
“The council’s own conservation officer described it as a historic landscape of exceptional sensitivity. Others in the report have called it an iconic view.”
Miss Graham Paul said the councillors decided to grant planning permission “against strong officers advice” that it would make a “significant visual impact” on the landscape.
She said the group failed to give any clear reasons why they rejected the report and granted permission.
Miss Paul Graham said: “They had a lack of ability to form their own view from Laugharne because they didn’t leave enough time to visit the site.
“They said there were inconsistencies in the council officer’s recommendation to reject planning permission but no inconsistencies were identified in the meeting minutes.
“There is no other comparable view of cultural significance in Carmarthenshire.
“There needs to be a rational basis for why they disagree with their officers and they needs to explain why they are taking a different view.
“No reason was given for rejecting the officer’s advice.”
Richard Ground, representing Carmarthenshire council, said national guidelines supported renewable energy developments “provided they don’t cause significant adverse impact”.
Mr Ground the wind turbine would be built 2km away from Thomas’ boathouse, would not “dominate” the view from writing shed and would be painted “off white” to blend in with the sky.
He told the hearing of the High Court in Cardiff that the turbine would create an “apparent but minor view point change” which the councillors were made aware of by artists impressions when they reached their decision.
Mr Ground said: “The operational phase of a wind turbine is 25 years so the visual harm is not absolute. After 25 years there is provision for it to be taken down.”
Landowner Carolyn Morris, 63, admitted the wind turbine would be “highly visible” from the writing shed and boathouse in Laugharne.
But she added: “I do believe the councillors had all the information they could possibly have to determine for themselves the visual impact.
“Fourteen members voted for this and they had all the information to make their own individual decisions.”
Judge Andrew Gilbart QC told the hearing it was “impossible” to suggest it would not cause a significant impact on the landscape.
He reserved judgement at the end of the hearing and said he would hand down his decision in the next few weeks.
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