At last – Welsh govt welcome eco-home

It nearly didn't happen, but local pols overruled
It nearly didn’t happen, but local pols overruled
Wales has been saying for years that it wants more environemntally freindly buildings – trouble is they keep on rejecting the planning applictions made for such homes.

Now a Welsh Government Minister has finally give=n the green light to a farmer’s new eco-home. The state-of-the-art farmhouse got the stamp of approval by the Minister for Natural Resources and Food, Alun Davies. It had been initially opposed by Caerphilly council, but they were forced to go ahead by the Welsh national government.

Farmer Arthur Davies (no relation) and his family, are moving into Maes Yr Onn, Manmoel.He has “taken our dream of living at the farm and transformed it into reality,” he said.

“I would like to thank all of our family and friends who have kept us going over the past 15 months of living in a caravan,” he added. “We have had an eventful year and are just as thrilled that we can now take on the opportunities and challenges of living off-the-grid.”

The property is completely sustainable and located on a totally off-the-grid site and is therefore required to be self-sufficient in its energy use. The house features a number of sustainable technologies including photovoltaic panels, rainwater harvesting, a biomass boiler and thermal stores and innovative skirting board heating.

Speaking at the farm, the Minister said: “At a time when household incomes are being squeezed and the cost of energy continues to rise, it is good to see an increase in the uptake of renewable technologies here in Wales.

It was back in 2011 that the family gained outline planning permission to build this fantastic farmhouse. After facing the many challenges of building in a location with no access to mains electricity, gas, water or sewerage services.

The property is the product of a multi-agency partnership team, who interfered with almost every aspect and caused great additional cost to the family as they designed and built their dream home, a modern farmhouse in stunning surroundings in the style of a traditional Welsh longhouse.

Caerphilly County Borough Council’s RDP Sustainable Development Team almost stopped the project in its tracks but a partnerships with the Building Research Establishment gave the family additional leverage.

Andy Sutton, Associate Director of BRE, said, “Arthur and Sue’s house gave a great opportunity to develop a modern reinterpretation of Welsh rural living drawing on the traditional building forms and materials. “ Jo Horrigan, SSE National Development Director (Wales), came up with the usual mix of doublespeak and jargon expected of quango bureaucrats, “This exciting project will showcase the benefits of using sustainable, renewable technology in the home. It will also provide insight into how the technologies interact, as well as how the user adapts their behaviour to the challenges of living off-grid.”

The family are now settled into living life off-the-grid and have been monitoring their energy usage since moving into the property. An energy monitoring scheme by Constructing Excellence Wales and the RDP team will now be in place over the next three years, helping the family to live as sustainably as possible and learning best practice for future projects.

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