by admin on 3 November, 2009
This application which was first lodged in April 2008 was finally heard by Pembrokeshire County Councils Planning Committee on Tuesday 03/11/09. I am a member of that committee so I have been unable to make any public comments until that meeting. The application was given approval with a total of 27 conditions.
I was responsible for drafting 4 of these conditions, with the help of the Officers, although one of them was amended slightly by other committee members. This was condition 2 where the exact machinery to be used was removed.
This application has divided the community and so everyone can be aware of exactly what I said at the meeting, details of my speech are copied below. Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you have any queries.
This application has split opinion within my area. There are those who favour farm diversification, recognising just how difficult it is for farmers at this time. These people in the main do not live very close to or are not affected personally by the application. However 6 letters of support come from within what I consider to be the affected area, which is significant.
There are those who oppose this scheme because it impacts on their Amenity. They are concerned about noise, dust and the possible visual and wildlife impact. These people in the main live adjacent or very close to the site.
There are those who oppose this scheme because they believe it will have a detrimental affect on their business. These are exclusively those who run tourist based operations. These are a Caravan Park and 4 other business’s who run or are in the process of already building holiday cottage accommodation. I believe that there are currently 6 units of accommodation and a further 8 proposed which have current planning permission.
It is clear from reading the complete file yesterday which took me in excess of two hours that this is far from a cut and dried matter. The application would have been recommended for refusal on noise but for a noise survey that was completed by the applicant. The survey has not however measured any background noise at this site currently. This is extremely important and I refer members to page 12 item 3.18. Without the background noise level being recorded we have no baseline data.
It is clear that the maximum noise level would be 67 db during the installation of the bund and the one week per year when crushing was taking place. Many residents are very concerned about the other 51 weeks of the year and as yet there is no figure available to assess the decibel level. The Tourist business’s also want to know exactly when this week of operation will take place, so they can warn potential clients in advance. I personally think it is reasonable to give a minimum of 8 weeks notice.
The noise levels in the report using similar machines to that envisaged in this application show levels up to 93 db. The report then concludes that the bund and the distance to the nearest properties will reduce this to 63 db. This is 4 decibels away from the maximum. This site is not straight forward as several properties affected are in fact higher than the proposed site. Noise here appears to reverberate around the valley and I have no confidence that the agreed sound levels will be achieved. 1 resident also has a studio that she uses to work in, that is much closer to the site than is mapped.
The conditions however do clearly specify the highest level that can be reached and if I was the applicant I would be extremely uneasy based on this report that the agreed levels will be met. The sound level recorded 3 metres away from the machine by the time it reaches affected properties has to have reduced by 28% to meet the minimum requirement.With the wind in the wrong direction – any result could occur!
There is no doubt in my mind that the adjoining residents will lose amenity, the question is just how much. If the noise were just for 7 days in each calendar year then I would have no difficulty with this application. Although the crushing will take place for 7 days other works will carry on for possibly another 51 weeks. If the machinery is limited to a farm tractor outside of this one week then again on balance I feel that is what one can reasonably expect from a farm, provided we have recorded sound levels to back this up. JCB’s however are a very different story and I think it is essential that the machinery proposed by the applicant in this report becomes a condition. Reversing beepers should also be not allowed which is already in the proposed conditions.
I am not concerned at the traffic implications because until recently this farm had a large diary herd and an articulated milk tanker regularly visited. There are proposed conditions for transport which meet all my concerns.
The report on page 14 item 3.32 concerns tourism. Llanychaer has a unique selling point, which is its peace and quiet. The turnover from this proposed application will be less than that generated by the tourist Industry. The applicants stand to gain while 5 other business may lose.
The Village is divided between the National Park and this planning authority by the B4313. If the application had been on the other side of the road then it would not have got this far. The National Park’s view is very clear cut and I do not think this authority has addressed their objections.
So what is my conclusion?
I am prepared to recommend approval with the addition of four new conditions. These are:
The dates of crushing to be agreed 8 weeks in advance and communicated to residents.
After construction of the bund and excluding the 7 days that crushing takes place, only a farm tractor with a 2.5 tonne loading shovel at the front to be used in conjunction with packing. No movements of spoil to take place outside of the week crushing takes place.
That this authority determine the base background noise level before work commences and this plus 10 db is the agreed maximum noise level when crushing is not taking place.
That the applicant arranges for sound levels to be recorded in conjunction with this local authority for the seven days that crushing takes place.
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