One Planet Council respond to Carmarthenshire Councillor’s call for a review of OPD


Press Release: Monday 12 October, 2020

The One Planet Council is pleased to support Councillor Lenny’s call for a review of the One Planet Development policy and looks forward to showcasing the success stories of OPDs in Carmarthenshire and beyond.  We welcome the suggestion to incorporate aspects of One Planet thinking into other planning decisions, consistent with Carmarthenshire’s declaration of a climate emergency and net-zero ambitions, and with the requirements of the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act. We are disappointed, however, to see that the motion proposed by Carmarthenshire Councillor Alun Lenny (Chair of the Planning Committee) for Wednesday’s full council meeting, proposes some form of “moratorium” on new OPD applications.

In planning policy terms, One Planet Development is relatively young. Adopted by the Welsh Government in 2010, it took until 2013 for the first OPD (in Caerphilly) to be approved. Even now there are just under 40 approved OPD smallholdings, comprising a mere 300 acres in total across the whole of Wales. To halt such a ground breaking, forward thinking policy which puts genuine sustainability above all else, would be irresponsible and a huge missed opportunity at this time of climate emergency, Covid-19 and Brexit. Instead we must be looking to support and enable low impact / high benefit policies which focus on zero carbon building, food resilience, rural enterprise, renewable energy and responsible waste management even more accessible to the people of Wales and beyond.

The One Planet Council is aware that people from around the world are looking at OPD as one possible solution to taking greater responsibility for how we consume and live. Wales is seen beyond our borders as a world leader and inspiration in taking the initiative for positive change. In the UK, Dartmoor and Cornwall are using the OPD framework to put in place similar initiatives, and other nations (Ireland, New Zealand) are exploring it.

If the policy is “commendable” but “problematic”, then it is imperative that we work towards a solution to the problems.  Here we address Cllr Lenny’s three concerns:

1. We acknowledge that there does exist a small minority of “resentment by rural residents”, and that this is important and should be addressed, but resentment is not a material planning consideration.  One Planet Development is national policy and as such it is considered with equal weight to the Local Development Plan.  We note that One Planet Development is open to all comers, regardless of background.  We would like to encourage those who are “resentful” of the opportunity to take advantage of it themselves by preparing One Planet Development applications where previous unsustainable proposals may have been rejected.  We also note that TAN6 makes provision for “Rural Enterprise Dwellings” (4.3), “New Dwellings on Established Rural Enterprises” (4.4), “Second Dwellings on Established Farms” (4.5) and “New Dwellings on New Enterprises” (4.6) in addition to the policy of One Planet Development (4.15).  Those policies all need to be supported and promoted as contributors to a sustainable rural economy and housing provision which works for everyone.

2.  The policies of Rural Enterprise Dwelling and OPD are different.  The prospective nature of One Planet Development permission is the reason for the annual monitoring report in the first 5 years and the reason for the provision of an Exit Strategy within the management plan.  In the event that an OPD fails to reach its targets, the Exit Strategy would be implemented.  One Planet Developments are being granted under much greater restriction than any other form of new development.

3. We understand that LPAs are struggling with monitoring arrangements and that standard agricultural assessments are inappropriate for One Planet Development.  The One Planet Council is hosting a training session for planning officers and other professionals on 30th October and we have invited Carmarthenshire planners to attend.  We also recognise that the burden of monitoring requires support and we call upon the Welsh government to offer that support to local authorities in the form of financial assistance either to develop in-house capability or to bring in the services of qualified consultants with relevant expertise in sustainability, ecology and/or horticulture.

We note that the very next motion to be debated by the Council on Wednesday, following this one, is a vote of thanks to “recognise the vital contribution small businesses, the farming industry and rural enterprise has made from the onset of the Covid-19 crisis in Carmarthenshire”.  We are proud to say that One Planet Developments have been in the forefront of this community response.  OPDs in Carmarthenshire have scaled up production of food in 2020 to meet increased demand for local, seasonal, sustainable produce, and have been working around the clock delivering produce to those who are vulnerable and shielding as well as to local shops and businesses.

James and Clare Adamson live on a One Planet Development in Carmarthenshire (pictured):
“We run an organic vegetable enterprise from our OPD site in Carmarthenshire supplying four local retailers and a regional wholesaler. During early stages of the covid-19 crisis, demand for our produce increased dramatically. As a small business we were able to respond and adapt quickly and scaled up our production by 150%. We have been delighted to be able to supply local retailers as they supported local people through this challenging time. OPD enterprises have the potential to help create rural resilience in the face of climate change, resource and health crises.”

As we aim to “build back better” from this challenging time, we need policies that boost the Carmarthenshire economy with tangible increases in rural opportunities, support local communities by keeping young families in the area, and rise to the immense challenges of the climate and ecological emergency. One Planet Development is one such policy. We urge Carmarthenshire Council, and the Welsh Government, to get behind it.

One Planet Council, Monday 12 October, 2020