A Welsh dairy farmer could be forced to demolish a huge shed built to house hundreds of cows because National Park planners have blocked his expansion plans.
Daniel Harries, who farms in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, had built housing and associated infrastructure at Velindre Farm, St Nicholas, to increase cow numbers to 860, but the Park Authority has refused to grant him planning permission.
Mr Harries, who now faces the prospect of having to pull the shed down, says he only pushed ahead with the development because hearings to consider his application had been repeatedly deferred.
“The Park Authority seems to want to keep everything cocooned as it was back in the 1950s. They like the idea of a 50-cow dairy with cows out on pasture. But farmers can’t make a living with that approach any longer.”
A meeting of the planning committee in October appeared to support his application and, faced with the prospect of a winter without housing for replacement heifers, he pressed on and built the 2,552sq m shed.
Mr Harries, who is 32, described the meeting at which the application was refused as a “pantomime’’. The application was refused on the grounds that it represented “an inappropriate and harmful form of development” in open countryside and that the slurry lagoon would have an adverse effect on neighbours.
“Every time a member of the committee tried to speak up for us they were greeted with jeers and heckled all the way through,’’ said Mr Harries.
“We were shocked and disappointed with the outcome because we had jumped through all the hoops that the planning officers had asked of us.’’
Mr Harries currently milks 550 cows, but his development would eventually allow him to expand the herd to 860.
He insists that for farms to remain economically viable, efficiency is key. “The Park Authority seems to want to keep everything cocooned as it was back in the 1950s. They like the idea of a 50-cow dairy with cows out on pasture. But farmers can’t make a living with that approach any longer and that is why we have gone down the route of expansion.’’
A National Park Authority spokesman said Mr Harries would be contacted by post.
“The applicant will be given a reasonable timescale in which to assess his options before any enforcement action, if necessary, is taken,’’ said the spokesman.