Dairy jobs trump landscape and heritage in Wales
Public Law and Judicial Review
In a much delayed decision the Welsh Minister for Housing & Regeneration has rejected his Inspector’s recommendation and granted planning permission for a so-called ‘Super Dairy’ (accommodating 1,000 cattle) on land at Lower Leighton Farm, Welshpool, Powys. The Inspector had reported in May 2013 after a 2 week public inquiry that the proposal would have an ‘unacceptable impact’ on what was recognised in LANDMAP to be an ‘outstanding’ landscape and would fail to protect the settings of the Grade I Powis Castle and the Grade II* Holy Trinity Church Leighton and the settings of the Registered Park & Gardens at Powis Castle and the Leighton Hall Estate, and would have a detrimental impact on the setting of Offa’s Dyke. The Inspector did not consider this ‘considerable’ harm was outweighed by the creation of 7 new dairy jobs (net) and the associated investment in establishing the dairy operation. After deliberating for 6 months the Minister disagreed and concluded that the economic benefits were indeed sufficient to ‘override the objections to it in relation to the landscape and heritage assets’. The decision illustrates that the Welsh Government is serious in its declaration in PPW that economic benefits should be given ‘equal consideration’ with social and environmental issues, and that economic factors are perhaps ‘more equal’ than environmental concerns in Wales at present.
Michael Bedford acted for Powys County Council.