Natural Resources Wales defend plan for 40 tourism cabins in national park after criticism
Natural Resources Wales has defended a partnership with a holiday company that will see 40 cabins sited in the Brecon Beacons national park.
Despite not yet being built yet, guests can already book the Forest Holiday cabins that will be built near the Garwnant visitor centre, with a week’s stay costing as much as £7000 in December.
Garwnant Visitor Centre sits in the heart of the Coed Taf Fawr forest on the edge of the Brecon Beacons near Merthyr Tydfil.
Last week Natural Resources Wales hailed the “exciting new development” which was “in partnership” with Forest Holidays.
But Efan ap Ifor, who lives nearby and often walks in Garwnant with his family, said the plan was “outrageous” saying that there was “no chance a local resident would get planning permission on their own land in this area”.
“This isn’t sustainable development, this is the destruction of pure natural green land,” he said.
“This destructive development will destroy habitat and fundamentally change the entire essence and feel of the location.”
He questioned why Natural Resources Wales, which manages the forest for the Welsh Government, was allowing Forest Holidays to “cash in on the popularity and demand at neighbouring Pen-y-fan”.
Natural Resources Wales however said that the plan would bring valuable jobs, inward investment and economic benefits to the south of Wales.
“We take our role to protect and enhance the Welsh environment very seriously, so any development on land under our management is subject to rigorous scrutiny and our partnership with Forest Holidays and leasing of land at Garwnant is no exception,” they told Nation.Cymru.
“The development at Garwnant is not only sympathetic to the environment and maintains our recreation offer at the site for local communities but will also boost the local economy through job creation and increased visitor footfall both now and in the future.”
Natural Resources Wales said the new location will eventually create up to 60 jobs and will provide an annual £1.5m boost to the local economy.
Forest Holiday Parks has seven sites in England, two in Scotland, and one at Beddgelert in Snowdonia National Park, which opened in July 2018. Six of the other locations are also set within a National Park.
In a statement sent out last week Forest Holidays Chief Executive Bruce McKendrick said: “For anyone who loves the great outdoors, the Brecon Beacons National Park is an incredible place to discover, and we feel privileged to be able to help others enjoy and spend time in this iconic landscape with such rich history.
“We are looking forward to making a valuable and eco-sensitive contribution to the growing tourism economy in south Wales, with the creation of new local jobs, enhancements to the forest environment and the economic benefits our new location will bring to the surrounding area.”
Gavin Bown, Head of Mid Wales Operations for NRW, added: “One of our key roles is to sustainably manage our natural resources in a way that benefits the environment, people and economy of Wales.
“This partnership with Forest Holidays, whose cabin locations are designed to protect and enhance their forest locations, is a fantastic example of this.
“NRW manages around 126,000 hectares of woodland on behalf of the Welsh Government, covering six per cent of the land in Wales. We want to encourage more sustainable commercial opportunities that benefit the Welsh environment for people and for nature now and into the future.
“This exciting project is a great example of how we are realising our ambition to support the right development in the right places.”
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