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Potential applicant FAQs


1. How many One Planet Developments are there in Wales already?
The current number of known OPDs are on our web site here. This is not a full list – some OPDs prefer not to make themselves public, and there may be more that are not known to us. In addition there are nine plots at the Lammas Eco Village in Glandwr, John Hargrave’s Green Apple in Cosheston, and two plots at Brithdir Mawr, all which were granted planning permission under Pembrokeshire’s groundbreaking low impact policy 52.

2. Do I have to be completely off-grid?
Not completely. A grid connection for electricity is permitted, but only for the purposes of feeding back power – you need to cover all electricity requirements from your own sources. A grid connection for water may also be acceptable if it is shown to be more sustainable than any other option, for example if the connection already exists.

3. Do I have to be completely self-sufficient?
No, you have to produce at least 30% (by value) of your own food on your land and cover a further 35% of your food budget either through producing it on your land or through earning money from a land based business. If you produce 65% of your food or more on your land then there is no need to cover any food costs using land based income.

4. How much money do I need to make to cover my Minimum Income Needs?
This will depend on your own lifestyle and requirements. Minimum Income Needs are clearly defined to include clothing, council tax, telecommunications/IT (phone bill, internet, computers, etc), travel (fuel costs, train tickets, etc), and any additional food as above. For a single person living a frugal lifestyle this might be just a couple of thousand pounds. For a larger family or a more conventional lifestyle, it could be considerably more.

5. What counts as a “land-based” business activity?
Land-based businesses sell produce grown or raised directly on the OPD site. Examples include: vegetables, eggs, meat, cheese, herbs, salad bags, preserves, woolly jumpers, timber-crafts, honey, fruit juice, cut flowers, natural remedies, etc.

6. Can educational courses count towards my land-based income?
Education and consultancy can be counted but must be subsidiary to the main land-based business. For example, you might sell cut flowers and also run flower-arranging courses, but you could not count more land-based income from the courses than directly from the flowers. (Note that this does not stop you earning more from the courses than the flowers – it is only a limit on the amount that you can count in your land-based income).

7. Can accommodation (camping or B&B) count towards my land-based income?
No.

8. I need to travel a lot to see my relatives overseas – will this make my Ecological Footprint too high?
Possibly. One return flight to Australia would be likely to blow your yearly budget, but a train journey within Europe can probably be accommodated. If your Ecological Footprint from travel is high, then your footprint from everything else you do will need to be lower.

9. I need to travel a lot for work – will this make my Ecological Footprint too high?
Ecological Footprints are calculated based only on your personal activities. Anything that you do for work is counted as a footprint of your customers. However the policy requires that you minimise the use of private vehicles, favour low or zero carbon forms of transport such as walking, cycling and car sharing. Therefore it is important to minimise travel as part of you OPD plan.

10. How can I find suitable land?
Estate agents, local newspapers, word of mouth. Identify where you would like to be and talk to people in the area. Land that makes it onto the open market (estate agent web sites) is only there because no one else local wanted it.

11. What sort of land should I look for?
This depends on your business plan. If you want to keep sheep you will need pasture; if you want to make charcoal you will need woodland. Other businesses have equally specific requirements. All OPDs require wood for energy, but short rotation coppice can be planted and yield within 5 years. At least 3 acres will be required for most households, with typical existing developments more like 5-10 acres. Think about potential for renewable energy such as solar, wind or hydro. Reasonable soil along with a good aspect and low altitude will help with food growing. One thing not to compromise on is a good location, ideally close to public transport links and a market for your produce. Check access carefully before buying a plot, since poor road visibility or unsafe access can completely kill a planning application. If access is over a neighbouring piece of land, be sure that you have a right of access at all times and check who is responsible for maintenance costs.

12. How much money do I need to do OPD?
The main expenses are the land, the house, and money to support yourself during the set-up phase. Agricultural land costs between £3,000-£10,000 per acre, so a typical cost for a 5-acre plot would be anywhere from £15 – £50,000. A house may cost as much money as you wish to put into it – at the lower end, houses can be constructed for only a few thousand pounds, using a lot of recycled materials and relying on volunteer labour. The lowest cost houses of existing OPD have built by skilled woodworkers using volunteer labour and mainly recycled materials. Supporting yourself while the project is in the set-up phase should not be forgotten as it may be a considerable expense, depending on how quickly you can ramp up your business and how much time you will be spending on food growing and house construction. In addition to these main costs, there will be a number of smaller items such as: solicitor’s fees for land purchase, third party liability insurance, trackways (this can be a major item depending on existing access arrangements), landscaping, hedge maintenance, purchase of plants or seeds, pond liners, water infrastructure, fencing, etc.

12. What would happen if I became disabled, injured, or too old to work the land?
The One Planet Council are working on a position statement on this subject. Stay tuned!

13. What would happen if I fail to meet the OPD requirements after 5 years?
In the event of continued failure without a clear plan for rectification, the Exit Strategy laid out in the Management Plan would be invoked, and the dwelling house(s) would be removed.



Planning officer FAQs

1. Why is this an exception to the usual policy against new developments in the open countryside?
Wales aspires to become a One Planet nation within a generation, so that we are only consuming our fair share of the world’s resources. In a generation, all new development will have to be One Planet Development (as measured by the Ecological Footprint). This is the first step on the way towards that aspiration. Conventional new development in the open countryside is usually unsustainable due to the high private vehicle usage. OPD is different because the residents will live and work on site, with much reduced vehicle usage, and will meet their own needs locally.

2. What would happen if the applicant fails to meet the requirements after 5 years?
In the event of continued failure without a clear plan for rectification, the Exit Strategy laid out in the Management Plan would be invoked, and the dwelling house(s) would be removed.

3. Where can I find out more about One Planet Development?
The One Planet Council run training courses for professionals. Please contact us if you are interested in booking on the next available course dates.



Public FAQs

1. Why is this an exception to the usual policy against new developments in the open countryside?
Wales aspires to become a One Planet nation within a generation, so that we are only consuming our fair share of the world’s resources. In a generation, all new development will have to be One Planet Development (as measured by the Ecological Footprint). This is the first step on the way towards that aspiration. Conventional new development in the open countryside is usually unsustainable due to the high private vehicle usage. OPD is different because the residents will live and work on site, with much reduced vehicle usage, and will meet their own needs locally.

2. What are the main requirements of One Planet Development?
The main requirements for OPD in the open countryside are for the residents to meet their basic needs from the site in terms of energy, food, income, water and waste assimilation, to stay within a “One Planet” Ecological Footprint, and to build very low-carbon buildings from local, natural materials. Residents of One Planet Developments have to live quite differently (much more sustainably) than is the norm in the 21st century. One Planet Development therefore is not just describing a physical development. It is describing a way of living differently where there is a symbiotic relationship between people and land, making a reduction in environmental impacts possible.

3. Isn’t this just an easy way to get a new eco-mansion in the countryside?
In a word, no. Not unless you consider “easy” growing your own food, managing your own energy, developing a new land-based business, monitoring all your personal spending for the Ecological Footprint, and keeping detailed records of everything for the annual monitoring reports. It is of course easier for some than for others, but the typical developer looking to build a fancy place in the country will not wish to meet these requirements . Note that planning permission is also permanently conditional on continuing to meet the OPD requirements, so you can’t just play at it for 5 years and then change your mind – in that case, the buildings would have to be removed.

4. Lots of farmers are going out of business on hundreds of acres; how can anyone possibly make a living on 5 acres?
First, note that OPD applicants are not required to completely support themselves from the land; only to cover their Minimum Needs. Next, OPD is not the same as “conventional” mechanised agriculture – replacing the usage of machinery and fertilisers, there is a much higher input of human labour per acre. Most OPD produce is processed in some way, adding value to the raw land-based materials. This allows a greater profit to be made from a small area. For more tangible evidence that such businesses can be successful, please see the following documents:
Examples of the Lammas annual monitoring report available on this page. The 70-acre site now supports 9 OPD households, when it had previously been generating approximately £3,000 per year as sheep grazing.
Small is Successful” case studies of land-based businesses on under 10 acre plots, put together by the Ecological Land Cooperative.

5. Will they make a fortune selling the house after 5 years?
No OPD plots have yet been sold so we can’t say how much it would be worth, but the planning condition would still remain. The house could only be sold to someone who would continue to meet all of the OPD requirements.

6. Is One Planet Development only for hippies and eco-warriors?
No, most of us are quite normal : )

7. Can those born or living outside Wales apply for One Planet Development too?
The OPD planning policy currently applies only in Wales, but people of any nationality can apply for planning permission.  Our hope is that One Planet or similar policies will be adopted in England by local councils – see our position statement on this subject.  Contribution to the cultural life of local communities is an important part of One Planet Development which anyone applying should be sensitive to, and in Welsh-speaking areas this should include using the Welsh language (learning if necessary).

8. Could I make a One Planet Development application for a new building on my farm, for a relative?
Yes, absolutely. Please do contact us for advice about making an application.