A Crymych member of Cymdeithas yr Iaith joined a 24 hour hunger strike calling on the Welsh Government to make planning law changes in order to strengthen the language at a community level.
Iolo Selyf has been a part of a vigil and other protests as part of Cymdeithas yr Iaith's campaign to call on the Government to do six specific things to maintain the Welsh language.
Iolo said: "I've joined other people throughout Wales in the fast so that the Government gets the message that the planning system has to put communities and people first. Does the Government in Cardiff know what young people in Crymych want for the area? We need to see the county developed, but not for the Government to give a figure of houses for the Council to build and that they then have to find somewhere to build them.”
The hunger strike is to draw attention to the fact that the Welsh Government's draft Planning Bill does not contain a single reference to the Welsh language. That is despite the government’s own consultation on the state of the language following the publication of the Census results - the Cynhadledd Fawr (Big Conversation) - recommending changes to planning law. In his statement earlier in the month about his language policy, the First Minister gave no commitment to amending the draft Planning Bill to include clauses about the Welsh language.
Cen Llwyd, sustainable communities spokesperson for Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg added: “We’re very grateful to everyone who’s willing to take this action to make the case for planning changes which are crucial for our language and communities’ vitality. We want a Planning Bill which puts the interests of communities first in order to tackle poverty as well as problems which face the language and the environment. The Welsh Government has the chance to show they’re serious about ensuring a future for Welsh speaking communities and people’s ability to live in Welsh. It’s essential the Welsh language is made a statutory consideration in planning, so the language thrives over the years to come.”
The hunger-strikers are calling for planning legislation which would base the system on local needs rather than nationally-set housing targets, ensure the impact of developments on the Welsh language are assessed, and give legal power to councillors to approve or reject planning applications based on their impact on the language.
The 2011 Census results show a decline in the number of Welsh speakers accross Wales. As part of its response to this Cymdeithas yr Iaith is holding a series of public meetings to discuss its reccommendations for the planning system and included a recent meeting in Haverfordwest where local issues were flagged up.