Roundhouse, hut etc at Brithdir Mawr

 

Summary of our points so far

 

This is a summary of the points we would have made at the meeting at Llanion Park scheduled for 31.1.07 and cancelled. I present them now to you in the hope that this matter can soon be resolved.

 

  1. Woodland.

We have agreed a contract with the Tir Ysbrydol Trust, two copies of which are attached as ‘Estover Agreement’. This will ensure adequate supplies of wood for fuel and crafts without depleting woodland resources in any way.

  1. Workshop design.

 I attach two copies of amended workshop plans, now designated 3a and 4a, to replace 3 and 4 in the application. Please note that the roof now slopes the other way, and that there are four higher bu

2.    Two new habitats have been created (arable and marginal/swamp). However, it would be impossible to achieve 75% of a livelihood from land-based activities (as demanded by policy 50) without the creation of these habitats.

 

3.    The authority’s ecologist argues that the two new habitats created have a lower ecological value than the habitats they replaced.  This view must stem from the misleading 1995 CCW phase 1 map.  However, photographic evidence given in the ecological report clearly shows that the habitat replaced was continuous bracken (a habitat of very low ecological value).  Therefore the new habitats created have added to the ecological value of the site, particularly the arable habitat which is of value to UKBAP priority listed species such as bullfinch and song thrush.

 

4.    All the species recorded in the marshy grassland in the 1995 CCW survey were recorded again in the 2006 survey (which also includes an additional 23 species).  The area of marshy grassland mapped for the two surveys is broadly of the same magnitude.  From this there doesn’t appear to have been a negative impact on the marshy grassland.

 

5.    The marshy grassland community (broadly equivalent to the National Vegetation Classification (NVC) community M23) requires either grazing or mowing to maintain its status.  Without management it will succeed to woodland.  The marshy grassland has been managed by the occupants of the roundhouse by cutting back and weeding out intruding willows and alders.  Therefore the management has had a beneficial impact on the marshy grassland.

 

6.    It is not my view that the proposals are likely to have an impact on protected species such as dormice and bats (as stated in the planning officer’s report).  The conclusion of the report clearly states that the impact of the development on protected species will be negligible.

 

(Leander Wolstenholme 11th January 2007)

 

I enclose a set of photographs of the site before and during the roundhouse construction. Please note that the site was entirely covered in bracken. We still have, annually to weed bracken from around the house, through all the garden, and around the reed bed. Scrub and bramble are occasionally controlled, and the field is constantly cleared of encroaching willow, bramble, alder and birch, to preserve it as a rich marshy environment. We graze it annually and will this year graze it more intensively in late spring, on the advice of the CCW conservation officer, to maintain it.

No grassland at all has been lost. The roof is approx 120 square metres of mixed grass where once was bracken.

This whole farm is maintained to the highest conservation standards, and the upkeep of our fields in Tir Ysbrydol and here has been used as an example by the ESA scheme. We have also been applauded for our hazel and alder coppicing. This is a once common practice that is now rare except in holdings like this, which helps create an ancient habitat for dormice and invertebrates. We receive visits from environmental courses who find it hard to show students examples of regular coppicing being carried out.

Overall, our positive environmental contribution has been to preserve this field from what could be the ravages of modern agriculture, to respect and conserve habitats, including in the coppiced area, and to enhance biodiversity, especially for bird species such as thrush and bullfinch. As I have already mentioned to you, this holding has been subjected to analysis by Dr Mary Hancock from Oxford Brookes University, who has noted our very low greenhouse gas emissions compared to ‘normal’ houses.

 

I hope these points will convince you that we fulfil all the requisite remaining criteria for acceptance under policy 50. If you are willing to acknowledge this, then we do not need a further meeting. If not, please let me know as soon as possible what any remaining obstacles are, so that you may proceed with this to committee.

 

Thanking you for your thorough treatment of our points, and for your flexibility in considering what is, after all, a challenging and novel planning issue.

Yours sincerely,

Tony Wrench