A Carmarthenshire conservation project has won a national award for planning excellence at an awards ceremony in London.
The Caeau Mynydd Mawr Special Area of Conservation-Supplementary Planning Guidance and Marsh Fritillary Project won in its category for ‘Excellence in planning for the Natural Environment’ at this year’s National Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) Awards.
The project based in the Cross Hands Economic Growth Area, was submitted by Carmarthenshire County Council’s Planning Services, Rural Conservation Section.
Since it began in 2013 the project has been successful in mitigating the impacts of development in the Cross Hands area on the protected Marsh Fritillary butterfly and the habitat which supports it.
Funded exclusively by contributions from developers, the project is essential to the delivery of Carmarthenshire County Council’s Local Development Plan, securing sufficient habitat to support the butterfly in the area.
There are currently 24 sites in management, a total area of over 125 hectares, of which 42ha is owned by the project. The remaining area is in management agreements with other organisations and private landowners.
The project provides funding for work which improves the habitat for the butterfly such as mowing rank areas of grassland and reduction of scrub encroachment, as well as fencing and provision of water when reintroducing grazing to neglected sites. Devil’s bit scabious (the only larval food plant of the Marsh fritillary) has also been planted in several sites.
Although the focus is on improving habitat for the Marsh Fritillary butterfly, the project has much wider benefits, supporting a range of other species and providing a network of natural spaces amongst areas of development.
Speaking about the project, the judges’ said: “This is a down to earth, practical project that had substantial planning input and used innovative tools to deliver positive outcomes. Not only does it manage and create areas of suitable habitat for the protected marsh fritillary butterfly, but also enables economic development to a flourishing strategic economic growth area, providing opportunities for the wider community.”
Carmarthenshire County Council executive board member for strategic planning Cllr Mair Stephens, said: “Congratulations to the team behind the Caeau Mynydd Mawr Project for winning this national award, it’s another great achievement for the project which was also highly commended in the Wales Planning Award 2017.”