- Posted by: Joyce Watson MS
- Category: Feature
Joyce Watson AM has written to the Welsh Minister with responsibility for planning, John Griffiths asking him to investigate Powys Council’s decision to give controversial plans for a ‘mega dairy’ near Welshpool the go-ahead.
I understand that the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) and several other UK charities have submitted a joint request asking you to call-in planning application P/2011/0156, pertaining to the extension of the dairy unit at Lower Leighton Farm, Welshpool, which was approved by Powys County Council on Tuesday, 1st November 2011.
You will have already read the particulars of the case so I will not duplicate them here. I have, however, attached a briefing note for your convenience. The evidence it sets out convinces me of the need to review the application.
The crux of the matter, as you will know, is that Powys Council’s Planning Officer recommended that planning approval should be refused, with the advice that the scale, location and impact of the development ‘fundamentally conflicts’ with at least 9 policies of the Powys Unitary Development Plan (formed from the Planning Policy Wales document). Such a departure from the Development Plan does, in my opinion, warrant Ministerial consideration.
I would therefore be grateful if you would consider the request to call in planning application P/2011/0156 as a matter of importance and urgency.
I look forward to your response,
Joyce Watson AM/AC
The organisations Not in my Cuppa, Soil Association, Compassion in World Farming (Compassion) and The Campaign for Real Farming have joined forces to ask the Welsh Assembly to overturn the decision to allow a 1,000 cow mega-dairy to be built at Lower Leighton Farm, Welshpool.
The groups say they are supporting the local villagers most affected by the proposed industrial 1000-cow unit – Campaign Against Leighton Farm Expansion (CALFe) – which will be right next door to the village primary school.
Addressing members of the Welsh Assembly and MPs at an event in Cardiff last month, World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) Chief Executive Mike Baker said:
“It concerns us that just six councillors could in effect make such a decision; the ripples caused by this will go far beyond Welshpool. If developers feel they can build a mega-dairy in rural Wales, which has some of the best pasture in Britain, then this is a worrying precedent to set.”
The development is opposed by the Countryside Council for Wales, the historic monuments agency Cadw, Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales (CPRW), the National Trust and Powys Teaching Health Board, who are concerned about the air quality of the farm and its proximity to Leighton primary school.
CALFe and CPRW have also written to the Welsh Assembly asking for the planning application to be called in.
The key issue for the Welsh Ministers is whether or not the application raises issues of more than local importance. If it does, then it may be “called in”.
The key issues for “calling in” an application can include:
• Does it conflict with national planning policies, as set out in ‘Planning Policy Wales’ and the relevant Ministerial Interim Planning Policy Statements?
• Could it have wide effects beyond the immediate area?
• Could it give rise to substantial controversy beyond the immediate area?
• Is it likely to significantly affect sites of scientific, nature conservation or historic interest, or areas of landscape importance?
• Does it raise issues of national security?
• Does it raise new planning issues?
An application may be “called in” for other reasons at the Minister’s discretion.
When an application is ‘called-in’, the Minister issues a direction in a letter to the council. A letter is also written to the applicant and any statutory party.