A COUNTY Councillor has called for a scheme which allows eco-friendly houses to be built in the open countryside to be stopped.

The One Planet Development scheme is unique to Wales and allows zero-carbon buildings to get planning permission.

There are strict rules including that residents must demonstrate the land can be used to provide food, income, energy and waste assimilation.

But Pembrokeshire county councillor Huw George said he does not believe the developments are being monitored enough to make sure the rules are stuck to.

"My concern is that the OPD policy is so wide that it is very difficult to monitor,” said Cllr George, whose ward in Maenclochog has seen five OPD applications.

"At the moment, there are some in this area where the monitoring is so weak that we are two years in and we've had no reports and no response.

"There has to be a moratorium on this policy now, to enable us to look, with Welsh Government to see if it's working," he added.

The OPD planning scheme was used to help save a north Pembrokeshire roundhouse, often described as a Hobbit house, from demolition in 2015.

Cllr George raised concerns about farmers who were unable to build cottages for their children on their land, while eco-houses were being given permission.

There has been a total of 24 OPD applications approved in Wales since the scheme started in 2010.

Out of the 13 applications in Pembrokeshire, five have were approved and three were granted permission on appeal.

In other areas of Wales there have been less of the OPD applications, with four in Ceredigion, three in Carmarthenshire and two in Powys.

Cabinet member for planning Phil Baker said PCC was concerned about the amount of work being given to officers due to the applications.

"I totally understand concerns from communities, particularly in the more Welsh speaking parts of the county," he said.

Stephen Crabb MP said he had spoken to many constituents who did not feel as if there was a level playing field for normal developments and OPD applications.

“It cannot be right that people, sometimes with no connection to Pembrokeshire at all, can build so-called eco-homes without having to clear the same planning hurdles,” said Mr Crabb.

The One Planet Council is a voluntary organisation which promotes the One Planet Development programme and provides support to people making applications.

A spokesman for the OPC said it hoped to see more of the applications in the future, due to the effects of climate change and ecological disruption.

"Like Pembrokeshire Councillor Huw George, we consider the monitoring of developments to be extremely important, and note that failure to submit annual monitoring reports is a breach of planning condition," said the spokesman.

"There is a continuing and inaccurate stereotype that OPD houses are 'hobbit houses' built by 'incomers'. Many One Planet Development homes (though not all) look very normal in appearance, and many (though not all) are built by local Welsh-speaking Welsh people in or returning to their local area," he added.

"We wish to stress that OPD housing is about ‘zero carbon over its lifetime’ performance, not appearance, which is a matter of taste and conversation between practitioners, planners, and Building Control."

Editor's note: this article was updated on 10/05/19 to include comment from the OPC.

The full statement from the One Planet Council can be found here.