Brithdir Mawr 24.12
Roundhouse residents could face
By Camilla Horrox
Residents of the Brithdir Mawr grass-roofed straw bale huts could face imprisonment if the High Court grants the injunction against them by the Pembrokeshire National Park early in the new-year.
Emma Orbach, is facing an injunction order by the National Parks to vacate her recently-built four straw bale huts and Tony Wrench is also facing a possible injunction for his earlier roundhouse after failing to be granted retrospective planning permission this year.
At the inquiry Phil Brown, the Community Planning Advisor, said that the site of the roundhouses, if anything, has enhanced the natural environment having far less impact than agricultural farmland.
“There is a need in Newport for non-conventional sustainable houses. All social needs need to be assessed and not marginalized, taking on board specific needs of communities such as Brithdir Mawr,” he said.
Emma Orbach told the County Echo that her way of life is infused by her spiritual and philosophical beliefs regarding the environment and the natural world.
“I can’t and won’t live any other way, my philosophical belief is to live as lightly and simply on earth, with as little visual and physical impact on the environment as possible.
“We have a lot of support and are currently engaged in peaceful non-violent guerrilla war,” she said.
Tony Wrench spoke to the County Echo saying that their main line of defence against the injunction and threat of imprisonment, which, he sai, was a very real one, is a House of Lords Human Rights law called Proportionality.
This law states that the level of damage caused by the eviction of peoples from their home, should be proportional to the damage they are causing to the economy and the environment.
“It is obvious that to demolish and evict us from our homes, would be catastrophic to our lives and spiritual beliefs, so what, proportionally, are we doing that is so catastrophic to the local economy and environment!” said Tony.
“Rhodri Morgan AM First Minister for Wales is quoted as saying in the Welsh Assembly’s Sustainable Action Plan 2004 - 2007 that ‘sustainable development is not an option that will go away – it is the only way forward’.
“Another quote in the action plan says “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.’ I feel these quotes speak for themselves,” said Mr Wrench.
He went on to say that much of the particulars of the National Parks claim are erroneous and that much of the time at the inquiry was taken by correcting the records.
“Ms Milner, chief Development Control Officer of PCNP, has spent three days at the appeal yet made no subsequent attempt to rectify the errors in these documents and has blithely sent them off anyway. This in my opinion goes beyond negligence and wastes court time,” he said.
AM Tamsin Dunwoody Kneafsey who has recently visited the huts told the County Echo:
“I have always admired Tony Wrench's innovative and sustainable house at Brithdir Mawr.
“They have demonstrated that affordable housing does not have to be made of concrete and bricks. The ethos of their home is one of environmental sustainability with as little lasting impact on the natural environment as possible.“
Tamsin went on to say that she believes we should have room in our planning systems to allow for such innovation and sustainability.
“Emma Orbach and Tony Wrench’s homes are examples of sustainable living they should be proud of, and make an enormous impact on anyone who has seen them or been inside,” she said.
Pembrokeshire National Park released a statement to the County Echo saying: “Papers have been served on all interested parties at Brithdir Mawr in connection with the court injunction over the roundhouse. No dates have been given for the hearing.”
The public Planning Inquiry into the Enforcement Notices served by the National Park Authority on four further unauthorized buildings at Brithdir Mawr and refusal of planning permission took place in early December.
The report by the independent inspector appointed by the Welsh Assembly Government is expected early in the New Year.
Tony Wrench and Emma Orbach outside Emma Orbach’s main straw bale hut.
Ken Evans sitting outside the oldest of the huts, which they are confident will be given a Certificate of Lawful Use, as it has been there for four years without any objections.