Dairy farmer prosecuted for breaching planning conditions
A Whitland dairy farmer will pay almost £5,000 for breaching planning conditions placed on development of his land.
Evan Davies, of Henllan Farm, will pay two fines of £500, plus costs and a victim surcharge, totalling £4,908, after failing to comply with planning conditions on retrospective permission for a dairy complex at his farm.
After lengthy legal arguments, Davies accepted his breach and pleaded guilty to the offences in a prosecution brought by Carmarthenshire County Council.
Llanelli Magistrates Court heard that Davies was granted retrospective planning permission for the dairy complex in February 2018, with evidence showing building work had already been completed ‘some time’ previously.
A number of planning conditions were attached to that permission, including works to improve the road junction and surface and foul water drainage systems, and for details about the farm’s slurry capacity to be submitted to the council.
However, later visits by planning enforcement officers found the conditions had not been complied with.
A Breach of Condition Notice was then served, requiring the farmer to take immediate action or else risk prosecution.
The case was taken to court after his failure to act, despite further time being given for compliance with the notice.
At court, Davies’s legal team accepted he had breached the conditions but argued that the conditions were not actually in effect because the retrospective planning permission was never implemented by their client – therefore rendering the notice void.
The council successfully put to magistrates that as a retrospective application, the permission came in to immediate effect on the day it was granted.
It was also noted that Davies had not appealed the planning permission, or the conditions attached to it, despite having the right to do so.
In concluding that the Breach of Condition Notice was legally enforceable, District Judge Christopher James told the court: “He (Davies) clearly did implement the permission by continuing to use the farm premises as it had been used before - as a dairy farm. The position is simply there has been non-compliance with the conditions he did not wish to comply with.”
Cllr Philip Hughes, the council’s Executive Board Member for planning enforcement, said: “Despite repeated warnings from the council’s planning officers, Davies failed to action any of the conditions imposed on his retrospective permission and we had no option but to prosecute.
“Planning conditions are attached to permissions for a purpose, to ensure developments are safe and proper. As this case has proven, they are not optional. There is a clear message here - any developer who deliberately ignores or breaches their planning conditions should expect to face the consequences.”