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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 February 2006, 09:38 GMT
Fish bait farm splits community
Ragworm
The company sells ragworm to anglers in the UK as bait
Councillors in Carmarthenshire visited the site of a proposed shrimp and fishing bait farm on Tuesday that could bring up to 70 jobs to west Wales.

Port Talbot-based Dragon Baits Ltd aims to create 270 ragworm ponds over 112 acres on Laugharne's west marsh.

The company was given planning consent in 2002 but land issues hit its plans.

The farm has divided local opinion with some people welcoming the jobs while others have objected, raising environmental concerns.

Dragon Baits Ltd supplies ragworm to the angling industry in Wales and the West Country but said by expanding its business in Laugharne, it would provide feed for the shrimp farming industry.

Pro-development protest in 2002
We need the jobs for our young people if they are to stay here
Jack Done

In its planning application to the council it has indicated the development would create up to 70 full-time jobs.

During a site visit in 2002, supporters waving placards lobbied councillors to approve the farm.

Jack Done, chairman of the Llanmiloe Community Association, said: "We are still supporting it, and a lot of people are of that view.

"We are a rural area and we need the jobs for our young people if they are to stay here.

"There's a lot of people letter writing to protest against it but these are mainly retired people who have come into the area and are worried it's going to affect their view.

"There's a lot of misunderstanding - the ponds will be a metre high and landscaped - when people look over it all they will see will be an expanse of water."

But a 283-signature petition on behalf of a local group called Friends of the Local Environment, opposing the development, has been submitted.

Tourism fears

Spokesman John Gilbert said they had a variety of concerns including potential disturbances and smells at nearby properties.

"It's just not in the right place," he said.

Mr Gilbert claimed the farm could hit trade at neighbouring hotels and caravan parks and questioned the number of jobs that would be created.

"There is already planning consent for an adjacent farm and we fail to see how the planners can allow two side-by-side on the burrows," he added.

The Countryside Council for Wales and Royal Society for the Protection of Birds have raised concerns while the Environment Agency said more information was needed before a decision could be made.

Carmarthenshire's head of planning, Eifion Bowen, said councillors had deferred voting at a previous meeting until they had viewed the site.

"The committee felt that it was necessary to visit the site in order to determine what impact the proposal would have on the surrounding area," he said.

They are expected to rule on the application on 9 February.


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