CONTROVERSIAL plans for clay pigeon shooting and other rural pursuits on land in Carmarthenshire have been approved by an inspector because the council didn’t make a decision in time.
The council’s planning committee had discussed the proposals for the five-hectare site near Pantgwyn Farm, Whitemill, near Carmarthen, at a meeting in August 2021. Planning officers recommended approval, but councillors deferred a decision in favour of a site visit to help them ascertain the impact of live gun firing in the area.
But no decision was ultimately made, prompting appeals by the applicants, Mr and Mrs Light, for non-determination. A Welsh Government-appointed planning inspector has now ruled in favour of the couple.
There were two planning applications for the council to determine: one to retain clay pigeon traps and shooting positions, and another a change of use of land and buildings for a corporate events venue to host clay pigeon shooting, fishing and deer management activities.
A planning statement on behalf of Mr and Mrs Light said clay pigeon and fishing activities on five lakes had been taking place on a commercial basis for years, but only within 14 and 28 day per year limits respectively. It said deer theory courses would cover stalking, biology and carcass management, but that deer which lived on the land would not be shot by paying customers.
The proposals led to 67 objections from residents and further ones from Abergwili Community Council and ward councillor Dorian Williams. They raised multiple noise, rights of way, biodiversity, highway, and other concerns. The monitoring of activities was also questioned.
One objection said: “Residents should not need to feel confined to the interior of their own homes for two days of every week to satisfy the needs of a new business venture.”
There were three letters of support, and the applicants said they’d been overwhelmed by the level of interest in their venture to date. Their planning application said no two events would take place on the same day, and that no more than 75 days of clay pigeon shooting activities would take place per year – and not on weekends.
Mr and Mrs Light also said employees would be at either end of a public footpath which crossed the land during shoots and would sound an air horn or whistle when a walker was seen.
The planning inspector has concluded that the proposals would not cause significant harm to the living of conditions of nearby residents, partly because only low-noise Hushpower shotguns and cartridges would be used.
The inspector also said proposed safety measures should improve protection for walkers on the footpath, but added: “While more shooting days may make this route a less desirable option for some walkers, shooting activities are not un-typical in rural locations.”
The planning consent comes with several conditions, including that no more than eight people took part in clay pigeon shoots on a given day, that shoots didn’t occur on more than two days a week with none at weekends or bank holidays.
Clay pigeon shooting, fishing and deer management courses can happen on no more than 150 days per year. Of this total, no more than 75 days of clay pigeon shooting can take place.