Sunday, 26 March 2017

Pentrebane Farm, Barn Owls and the Great Crested Newt

Barn Owls and Great Crested Newts Threatened by Plasdwr
Steve Andrews and Michael Deem at Pentrebane Farm

The Plasdwr housing development plan threatens to destroy green belt countryside on the outskirts of Pentrebane, St Fagans and Radyr in the west of Cardiff. Rare species, such as the barn owl (Tyto alba) and the great crested newt (Triturus cristatus) live and breed in this area. Pentrebane Farm is one place they can be found and if those behind Plasdwr and Redrow Homes, who are doing the building, have their way, this historic farmhouse will be converted into a pub and the fields will be built all over.

TV presenter and naturalist Iolo Williams has called the Plasdwr proposal “sheer madness” and has pointed out that it threatens many species, including the great crested newt, the barn owl and the lesser horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus hipposideros). Williams is not only very concerned about the destruction of the habitats of these species, but also explains that the building of some 6,000 houses will mean a lot more traffic on the already overburdened roads in and out of this side of Cardiff.

A visit to Pentrebane Farm

Sue Caldwell and Michael Deem

I went along to Pentrebane Farm with my friends Sue Caldwell and Michael Deem. Michael, by the way, is a councillor for Radyr and Morganstown Community Council and South Wales Central Regional Assembly Candidate at Plaid Cymru. Along with Neil McEvoy, Assembly Member for South Wales Central at Y Senedd, he has been campaigning ardently against Plasdwr.
Michael Deem makes a new friend

My first impression of Pentrebane Farm was what an amazing place it is, and this impression was to be confirmed and to grow. The farm is a still-surviving example of an old-style farm with a muddy farmyard, barns full of hay, cowsheds, cows out in the fields, several friendly sheepdogs, and a stables for the horses.

Pentrebane Farm

There are plenty of green fields, hedges, trees and large pond with a stream. Pentrebane Farmhouse is a Grade II Listed Building in St Fagans. It dates back to the 18th century and has a largely unaltered Victorian character. The views are wonderful in this very rural setting.

Barns and Barn Owls

Pentrebane Farm Barn

Amongst its attractions are its barns. Barn owls nest in these in the special boxes placed there for them. There are two pairs using the farm as a place to live and hunt from. These owls are having problems throughout the UK and a home for them such as this is vital for their survival and wellbeing.

Inside the Barn

It would be a real tragedy to think that this majestic barn could one day just become part of a modern public house, if the planners get their way. The barn owls would no longer have this wonderful home, and if somehow they managed to adapt, they would have to hunt over houses and streets, instead of the fields and countryside.

Pentrebane Farm Pond

 Pentrebane Farm Pond

We went to have a look at the pond too. It was very muddy but we all had ‘wellies’ on and I went wading about in the shallow. Sue’s dog Cleo jumped in and made the water even muddier. I didn’t see any newts but could see that it would be a great place for them. Newts don’t mind a lot of mud! The experience took me back to my childhood when I used to spend a lot of time wading around in ponds, as can be read in previous blogs about ponds and newts.

Redrow Homes have already started

Redrow Homes Danger Sign

Right next to Radyr, Redrow have already been given the go ahead and have begun work. They have fenced off fields that are all ploughed up. Hedges have been felled, bulldozers, ‘Keep Out,’ and warning notices complete the depressing picture. It is too late here but, hopefully, not for Pentrebane Farm and other parts included in the Plasdwr plan.

The Solution


Iolo Williams explained on a video presentation, in which he talks about the problem of Plasdwr, that a solution exists. Obviously houses need to be built somewhere but there are brownfield sites in the Cardiff area that could be utilised without any need to destroy the beautiful countryside threatened by the plans. Concerned residents are urged to contact their AMs and local MPs and voice their worries. Let’s Say NO to Plasdwr, and Save Our Green Fields!

Contact: Twitter: @MichaelDeemPC  

Saturday, 4 March 2017

TV presenter Iolo Williams speaks out against the Plasdwr housing plan

Plasdwr threatens the Great Crested Newt and other wildlife

Popular TV presenter and naturalist Iolo Williams has spoken out against the Plasdwr housing development proposal that threatens to destroy countryside in the green belt area of Cardiff northwest. Plasdwr is being promoted as “Cardiff’s garden city” but Williams calls the plan “sheer madness.”

He points out that already endangered wildlife species, including the great crested newt (Triturus cristatus), the barn owl (Tyto alba) and the lesser horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus hipposideros) all have populations that depend on habitats that exist on land scheduled for use, if the building of 6,000 new houses goes ahead.

Great Crested Newt (Photo: Public Domain)

The plan of Redrow Homes is to build all over countryside bordering on St Fagans, Fairwater (Pentrebane), Danescourt and Radyr, all on the outskirts of the north-west of Cardiff. There are large ponds in the fields and farmland affected by the housing development proposals, ponds, such as the Pentrebane Cottage Ponds, that are known to be used by the great crested newt, an amphibian that has been declining fast in the UK and is protected by law.

Barn Owl (Photo: Public Domain/Pixabay)

The barn owl is another British species of wildlife that has been dropping in numbers throughout the UK and is the subject of conservation schemes set up to protect this beautiful nocturnal bird of prey. Williams has pointed out that this magnificent bird is found in the area threatened by the development of the land.

The lesser horseshoe bat is one of the smallest mammals in the world. It roosts in colonies and in the UK, Wales is one the parts it is found. This bat is absent from Scotland. Threats to its survival include disturbance and destruction of roosting locations and the loss of suitable habitats in which it can forage for its prey, which are small insects and spiders. This bat flies low over the ground and will grab small creatures it can eat off of rocks and bushes.

Lesser Horseshoe Bat (Photo: Falcoperegrinus/Matthieu Gauvain)

Cardiff Council and the Local Development Plan (LDP)

Cardiff Council are favouring developers over the wishes of residents of the city when it comes to its LDP.  A report by Ruth Mosalski for WalesOnline points out that Cardiff’s Civic Society has claimed that Cardiff Council “ignores the public.” Many residents of the city are worried about these development plans and have voiced their concerns. It is not only because of the threatened destruction of the countryside and the wildlife it is a home to that is causing worries, but also because of the very real problem of traffic. Roads into and out of the west of Cardiff are already experiencing traffic chaos and adding another 6,000 houses and a potential 10,000 more cars can only acerbate the problem turning it into an absolute nightmare. Cardiff simply does not have the roads in place to cope with the increased traffic.

Increased traffic causes increased air pollution too. At present, the growth of lichen and mosses on tree trunks and walls throughout the city shows that the air quality has improved, but a dramatic increase in the number of vehicles using Cardiff’s overburdened roads will halt and reverse this, as well as being a known cause of ill-health for people.

There is a solution

There is no denying that people need somewhere to live and that more housing should be built. However, none of the problems the Plasdwr development will create have to exist because a viable solution already exists. As Williams points out in the video, there are brownfield sites in Cardiff where houses can be built instead. Also there are empty buildings that could be used to provide housing. He asks concerned residents to get in touch with their AMs and local MPs and to put in their complaints.

Councillor for Radyr & Morganstown Community Council and Plaid Cymru candidate for Radyr and Morganstown, Michael Deem, is campaigning against the destruction of the green belt, and so is Neil McEvoy, who is Assembly Member For South Wales Central at Y Senedd and County Councillor for Fairwater.

Contact: Twitter: @MichaelDeemPC  

Say NO to Plasdwr, Save Our Green Fields!