Four years after Câr-y-Môr registered as a seaweed and shellfish community enterprise operating from its base off St Davids, the company has gained recognition as one of the most innovative and forward-thinking marine businesses in South West Wales.

But eights months ago Câr-y-Môr began a lengthy appeal process against Natural Resources Wales’ decision to grant a paltry five-year marine license for the ocean farm.

Yesterday, (Friday September 15), Câr-y-Môr learnt that its appeal against the NRW's decision had been successful, with the result that its marine licence for its three acre offshore site will now extend to 20 years.

“Commercially, a five-year licence would have been lunacy with negative impacts,” commented Owen Haines who was one of the seven founder members of Câr-y-Môr, back in 2019 .

“We appreciate the inspector’s understanding of the long term negative impacts to sustainable marine development that a five-year marine licence would have produced.”

Throughout the appeal process, Câr-y-Môr argued that the NRW decision was ‘unreasonable' and 'not aligned with the Well-being of Future Generations Act’.

It would also have meant that the company’s plans for any future development would have been virtually impossible to secure.

Throught the process hey continued advocating for a more holistic approach to marine licensing in Wales that supports the underlying ethos of sustainable ocean farming.

The key findings of the inspectorate concluded that:

A five-year-licence would result in a time-wasting reapplication process after the farm would be decomissioned in 2028; 

It cited the NRW as undermining itself by stating that the data from trial farms was insufficient for a full farm. The inspectorate said trial farm data was the best place from which evidence could be obtained;

It stated there is no material difference in a five-year licence to a 20 year licence if a requirement is in place for ongoing monitoring.

Since Câr-y-Môr was set up by seven family members in 2019 it has gained widespread recognition as a strong, community-led project controlled by what Owen describes as ‘a growing group of diverse people' whose active support keeps propelling the society’s growth.

“ The fascinating thing -regardless of whether these people are investors, £1 members, or simply advocates of Câr-Y-Môr – is they’re a growing group who are generating an extraordinary and far- reaching network of tangible support, care and good will," he said.

" This is difficult to define, but each of these people bring their unique ‘hwyl’ to the project. And this appears to have some remarkable powers.

“Now that the 20 year licence has been secured, Câr-y-Môr will beging structuring the way ahead by making the sea farm commercially viable."

One of their proposals is to begin producing seaweed as a bio-stimulant for the land, enabling their sea farming operation to link cohesively with agriculture.

“This will enable a totally linked eco-system and all too often, this is a concept that’s left totally ignored,” said Owen.

“It’s essential that everyone is given the chance to collaborate and work together to achieve the same fundamental goal.

“I’m hopeful that Friday’s decision will now set a precedent for future community-based and nature positive projects as it’s apparent that there is a disconnection between solutions to fighting the climate and biodiversity crisis, and regulatory nature conservation.

“ We look forward to working closely with the Welsh Government and Natural Resource Wales to develop a monitoring regime that will allow future Welsh ocean farms to thrive but we will also use what we've learned from this experience to push for policy, governance, and regulatory frameworks that benefit communities and the planet as a whole.”