OPC responds to Pembrokeshire councillor concerns


Press Release, 29 April 2019

The One Planet Council is a voluntary organisation which supports and promotes the One Planet Development (OPD) policy. For clarification, we have no role in assessing or monitoring applications: this falls to the local government planning department, committees and their delegates.

Like Pembrokeshire Councillor Huw George, we consider the monitoring of developments to be extremely important, and note that failure to submit annual monitoring reports is a breach of planning condition. The monitoring reports provide robust evidence of the success of OPD in improving land productivity, job creation, combating climate change and improving biodiversity, all of which are local and national priorities; councils should therefore celebrate and support these achievements.

We note that the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act itself contains a provision for all of Wales to reduce its environmental footprint to a “one planet” level within a generation. If this is to be achieved, pioneers must be supported.

At its heart, the One Planet Development policy is a scheme for rural diversification, which is open to existing farmers just as much as to new entrant smallholders. In fact, existing farms have a head start, in that they already have a demonstrated land-based business, and so their planning application might focus on the other important criteria: zero carbon buildings, and a low ecological footprint.

There is a continuing and inaccurate stereotype that OPD houses are “hobbit houses” built by “incomers”. Many One Planet Development homes (though not all) look very normal in appearance, and many (though not all) are built by local Welsh-speaking Welsh people in or returning to their local area. We wish to stress that OPD housing is about ‘zero carbon over its lifetime’ performance, not appearance, which is a matter of taste and conversation between practitioners, planners, and Building Control.

With climate change and ecological disruption currently high on the political agenda, and clearly a matter of urgency, we hope to see more One Planet Development applications. Councillor George’s call for a “moratorium” is unnecessary: to address his concerns, what we need is clearer guidance about monitoring, supported by the Welsh Government.

The One Planet Council (www.oneplanetcouncil.org.uk) offers professional training for planners and assessors who deal with OPD planning applications or monitoring, which has been taken up in the past by officers from councils across Wales. We have also conducted an in-house training session previously for the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority which received excellent feedback, and we are happy to discuss similar training with other local authorities by request (info@oneplanetcouncil.org.uk).