In response to Mr O’Brien’s opinion piece, I understand that Tree is an emotive subject and that both objectors and supporters have strongly-held views.
He mentions that Tree is being ‘forced on a hostile public’ and that ‘most people in the village strongly disagree’ and object to Tree.
Seventy-nine individuals wrote letters of support for Tree, 95 wrote letters of objection, 41 of those came from people living in Borth/Ynyslas.
A total of 1,399 people live in the parish (census 2011), so less than three per cent wrote in objection. Even Mr O’Brien would recognise that this isn’t ‘most people’. Most aren’t bothered either way.
He says ‘Mr Davies is the only person on the planet who knows where the forest remains begin and end’.
In fact, Natural Resources Wales has indicated where the forest begins and ends and it covers well over 500,000m2. The houses and roads of the village sit upon and within the forest, so every new development in Borth/Ynyslas will encounter it.
Tree will be disturbing between 6 and 8m2, 0.001 per cent. And before any work can start we will agree a methodology with the council, and scientist Dr Martin Bates, who has done more research on this beach than any other, will be analysing samples as the work evolves. This will give us valuable knowledge of the history of the coastline (hitherto little known).
Mr O’Brien also mentions the ‘magnificent stretch of beach, wild, peaceful and incapable of improvement’. Whilst I agree with him that it’s a magnificent place, it’s not wild at all. This part of the beach wouldn’t exist if humankind hadn’t completely managed it over the last 200 years.
The river Leri was redirected in 1824, the railway completed in 1863 and the golf course in 1855. These interventions have helped create the landscape he describes.
He says I’m ‘not one to bow before the fusty voice of democracy’. The way I understand democracy is that we elect people to create, implement and enforce laws. Planning law is very detailed and specific. Permission is only given to projects that can be justified under policy.
In my case all eight professional statutory consultees, including NRW, supported my application. The planning officer of Ceredigion supported the application. These organisations are tasked with protecting communities from unmerited development.
When decisions are carefully balanced like this, the planning process protects us all by allowing appeals and asking an expert to make a judgement.
In this process experts were tasked with responding and the foremost expert of all (the completely independent planning inspector appointed by the Welsh Government) gave his ruling to uphold my appeal, after weighing up all the evidence.
Robert Davies, Taliesin.