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Objections raised against ‘relaxing’ Alpaca visitor attraction in mid-Wales

11 Mar 2021 3 minute read
Shwmae! An alpaca

Elgan Hearn, local democracy reporter

Objections have been raised on plans for an “Alpaca Experience” business near Meifod, which could be a flood risk.

Applicant, Helen Cooksley of Maesnewydd, has submitted a planning application to change the use of a barn at her property so that it becomes a classroom, and to build another barn so that she can keep more Alpacas.

But, Meifod Community Council and Welsh Government sponsored environment body Natural Resources Wales (NRW) are both objecting to the proposal.

Gary Owen on behalf of Meifod Community Council said that the body does not support the application.

Mr Owen said: “We have concerns relating to the potential for disturbance and nuisance being caused.

“It was noted that the January 20 floods occurred on the applicant’s land, and Welsh Government expect the frequency and severity of flooding to increase.

“In the application, there are indications of a hoped rise in alpaca numbers from the proposals but there is no business plan.

“We would anticipate one being prepared for this application.”

NRW has written back to PCC to say it has “significant concerns” with the application.

The letter warned that the application site is in a C2 Flood Zone, due to its location, close to the River Vyrnwy.

NRW now says a Flood Consequences Assessment (FCA) should be made by the applicant to “demonstrate the risk and consequences of flooding” can be managed to an acceptable level.


Miss Cooksley, explaining her proposal in a design and access statement, says she has six Alpacas at the smallholding, and hopes to grow a bigger herd.

She said: “The planning application is for a the creation of a small alpaca business which includes the proposed change of use of an old milking barn into a classroom, a new shelter to house the alpacas and their food.

“The business model is based around health and wellbeing to support those with long term issues, pain management, depression and anxiety to experience relaxing and calming with the alpacas in an open spaced natural environment that promotes relaxation and calm.”

Visitors could take them for walks and feed them.

Miss Cooksley said that she would also give weaving as well as yoga and meditation classes as part of the “experience”.

She believes that clothing and soft furnishings produced from Alpaca fleece such as scarves, shawls, cushions and other garments could be sold online.

Alpacas come South America and are distantly related to camels, but are much smaller, adults are usually less than a metre tall.

They are kept in herds that graze on the level heights of the Andes of Southern Pery, Western Bolivia, Ecuador and Northern Chile at an altitude of 3,500 to 5,000 metres above sea level.

They have been bred for their fleeces for around 5,000 years, as it has been found that the fibre is naturally water and fire-resistant.

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