The granddaughter of non-conformist Welsh poet Dylan Thomas has said she has “no words to describe” the decision by a vote by local councillors to allow a wind turbine to "decimate" the view from the Carmarthenshire boathouse where he wrote some of his most famous works.
To the dismay of Hannah Ellis, who is also president of the Dylan Thomas Society, planning permission has been granted for the 45m turbine on the hillside opposite the Dylan Thomas Boathouse in Laugharne, where the poet is thought to have written “Do Not Go Gentle”, “Poem on His Birthday” and “Over Sir John’s Hill” as well as the famous play “Under Milk Wood”, inspired in part by the people of the town.
The poet lived at the property for the last four years of his short live before his death in 1953 and it is now a tearoom and art gallery operated by the local council, which approved the wind turbine despite local objections and its own planning advice to the contrary.
“There are no words to describe it. The only two that spring to mind are shock and dismay. Of course I was aware of the proposal, but I never dreamed the local council would allow it,” said his granddaughter, 35, who has memories of travelling there as a child with her mother. “I would have thought that they’d want to preserve what is a beautiful and historic view, that was the inspiration for so many of his most important works, such as 'Poem on His Birthday'.”
The poem, which describes “herons spire and spear” in the “mustardseed sun” by “full tilt river and switchback sea”, hints at the area’s vibrant bird-life, which many local residents fear will be affected by the planned turbine.
In a "cruel blow" for the poet's fans, the decision came in the centenary year of his birth, which is being celebrated in the town and across Wales. His connection to Laugharne goes back to 1934 when he lived nearby until until the outbreak of the Second World War, before he returned to rent the boathouse in 1949. He died aged 39 after leaving the Boathouse for New York in 1953.
Staff at the boathouse refused to comment today, but one council insider was critical of the decision. They told The Independent that the decision was a “disaster” and would “decimate” a view that had survived untouched for generations.
One of those who opposed the decision was Laugharne community leader John Bradshaw.
”That view is probably why Dylan Thomas came to Laugharne and it goes back much further than Dylan as well,” he told BBC Wales. “There was such strong feeling against it [the turbine] from both sides of the river. I am just flummoxed to think they have passed it.”
Across the river, where the 250kw turbine is to be located at Mwche farm, the owners of the property made no comment, but previous reports in local press show they insist the impact of the turbine will be minimal.
A spokesperson for the council confirmed that the application has been approved and that planning officers will bring it back to the committee “with detailed reasons for approving the scheme.”