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  

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