Development rules could hit Welsh economy

The Welsh countryside could stagnate if a new planning framework subjects the whole of Wales to tough development regulations.

A designation similar to the Area of Outstanding National Beauty (AONB) already in place in parts of Wales could be widely implemented, warned Sue Evans, CLA Wales policy director.

“This could be very destructive, we could see an ANOB on the whole of Wales if we are not careful,” she warned at the Royal Welsh Winter Fair in Builth Wells on Monday (28 November).

Although CLA Wales believes there is much in the Planning Bill that has merit, it is concerned it will create greater restriction on rural businesses.

“Most of Wales has great beauty and all of us want to protect it but we don’t want to preserve it in aspic and not make a living from it,” said Ms Evans.

Parts of Wales, in particular the Brecon Beacons National Park, already had tough planning laws, she added. She cited an example of planning permission for an agricultural building being turned down because it was within sight of an AONB.

Among her concerns is that the positioning of individual wind turbines on farms could be restricted.

Half of all enquiries from CLA Wales members related to planning, she added.

The association also has concerns about plans to merge the work of the Environment Agency, the Countryside Council for Wales and the Forestry Commission, although it does broadly support the move.

Director Ben Underwood said integration would save money but he stressed that the new environmental body should promote policies that recognise the need for a balanced approach to sustainable development.

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