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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 April, 2004, 11:54 GMT 12:54 UK
Picket ends to save eco-house
Protest to save the Brithdir Mawr roundhouse
Around 100 protestors marched through Haverfordwest on Tuesday
Protesters trying to save an eco house in west Wales from demolition have ended their picket outside the headquarters of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority.

They want the authority to back down over its demands that the turf-covered roundhouse at Brithdir Mawr is demolished because it breaks planning rules.

A group of around 100 protestors marched on the park authority's headquarters in Haverfordwest on Tuesday.

But the park has now confirmed that they decided to leave after it agreed to consider plans for a public meeting over the issue.

Campaigners keen to see the wood and earth-built dwelling preserved, converged on the Brithdir Mawr community on Saturday and persuaded Tony Wrench, who built the home in 1997, to continue fighting his planning battle.

Mr Wrench said: "This has been going on for years - we've had hundreds of letters of support. Masses of people supporting us. It's lovely."

I don't want to break the law but on the other hand I am most reluctant to pull it down at the moment
Tony Wrench

Mr Wrench and partner Jane Faith have fought a long legal battle since building the solar-powered roundhouse without planning permission on park authority land.

The authority has repeatedly turned down retrospective planning permission for the house.

The wood and earth-built dwelling stands at Brithdir Mawr - a community of about 20 people which aims to work towards self-sufficiency and sustainability.

On Friday, Mr Wrench and Ms Faith decided to end the dispute and said they would pull the house down over the Easter weekend with the help of volunteers.

But protesters determined to see the roundhouse survive converged at the dwelling on Saturday and refused to leave over the Easter weekend.

Set up camp

They had camped on Friday night in Newport and marched to Brithdir Mawr to occupy the house.

Many decided to squat in the roundhouse, and Mr Wrench has said he had no plans to move them.

"I don't want to break the law," he said, "but, on the other hand, I am most reluctant to pull it down at the moment."

Others set up camp at the ancient hill fort Castell Henllys, near Newport.

The park authority said it had been necessary to close the fort over the Easter weekend due to its occupation by 30 protesters.

A spokesman said: "This inevitably caused inconvenience and disappointment to many visitors and local people who had planned a visit over the holiday weekend, particular children whose Iron Age activities events had to be cancelled."

The solar-powered house was constructed without planning permission in 1997.

Pembrokeshire National Park Authority - on whose land the house lies - has demanded its demolition since it became aware of it in 1998.
The roundhouse, Brithdir Mawr
The roundhouse was built without planning permission

In a statement, the Pembrokeshire National Park Authority said the matter had gone through proper planning procedure and had been discussed exhaustively.

Following a prosecution in January by the park authority in which Mr Wrench and three other roundhouse owners were ordered to pay a fine totalling 1,000, it was decided to pull down the roundhouse.

The park authority has always maintained that although it was committed to the environment, the roundhouse contravened its planning policy.

It insisted that a dwelling could not be built in the park unless there is a real need, because it could open the floodgates to other developments.

Eco house owner gives up fight
17 Feb 04  |  South West Wales
Battle lost for eco-house
19 Sep 02  |  Wales

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