Plans for the proposed slurry lagoon in Hermon raise a number of issues.

Firstly, as a professionally qualified planner, I find the view that whether an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is needed is a ‘technical issue’, rather worrying.

The purpose of an EIA is to improve project design (considering pollution issues and alternatives), improve public participation, lead to informed decision making, and reduce environmental impact, all of which should be desirable outcomes for all parties involved.

Secondly, the withdrawn report failed to refer to the statutory duty of the local planning authority to ‘encourage sustainable development’ as required under the 2004 Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act, section 39, subsection 2. This duty is relevant as there is a strong argument that recourse to a slurry lagoon is symptomatic of unsustainable development and overly intensive and industrialised farming.

A concern about the trend towards intensive farming has led the Welsh Assembly Government to express a desire for ‘sustainable intensification’.

Perhaps, over the next few weeks, Pembrokeshire County Council will give these matters the serious consideration they deserve.

Finally, slurry lagoons are a national as well as local issue and the Assembly government needs to resolve the current contradiction between its policy to give grants of up to £30,000 for slurry lagoon construction and its policy objective to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 3% per annum.

Methane from slurry is a potent greenhouse gas that can be captured in an anaerobic digester and thereby help achieve this target. In addition, an anaerobic digester provides heat, energy and a fertiliser, as well as an income, for farmers, and the enthusiastic adoption of this technology nationwide would also help alleviate the concerns of communities and environmentalists.

C. Mason Dip TP, M Litt, MSc.