A decision on the development of Pembroke Port has been deferred by Pembrokeshire County Council, with its progress through the planning approval stage hinging on a site visit by local councillors.

The Port of Milford Haven’s ambitious plans have seen some opposition from local heritage campaigners, with the “most contentious issue” being the size of two proposed buildings which the project's critics say would impact adversely the landscape.

Concerns have also been raised by heritage campaigners who have said the planned reconstruction of the port as  “terminal damage” to the area, with the loss of buildings an elements of the dockyard that have signifificant heritage value.

Pembrokeshire County Council’s planning committee heard this week from some detractors, that the application contravened planning policy in terms of “significant harm” and impact on the historic environment, as well as visual impacts.

A notice from Welsh Government has been issued stating that planning permissions cannot be issued – but can be determined – without prior authorisation of Welsh Government ministers.

At the planning committee meeting, Tim James, head of commercial and energy at the Port of Milford Haven called the project a “once in a generation opportunity to improve Pembrokeshire’s economy for years to come”.  The employment and  economic benefits were also highlighted in a a planning report presented to the council.

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In response to questions about the need for the 40 metre-high buildings as part of the development, Mr James said the size had been determined in discussion with boat builders and renewable energy companies, and their requirements for facilities.

Cllr Guy Manning, Pembroke Dock's mayor, said that although jobs were welcomed the buildings would be an “unsightly blot on the land and sea space.”

The Port of Milford Haven has submitted one planning application, three listed building applications, and one conservation area application, all related to its masterplan for the haven waterway.

Separate listed building applications have been submitted for infilling the dockyard’s timber pond and graving dock, both of which have significant heritage value.

Supporting documents  stated that the two historic sites will be covered with a protective layer of sand before 'granular fill' is put in and a new building located partially on top.

The plans include the creation of a single large slipway, the demolition of buildings in a conservation area, large areas of hard-standing where buildings would be constructed  for manufacturing, storage and other businesses.

The council's planning committee will now visit the site to to see for themselves the heritage issues and to investigate further the visual impact the proposed development will have to the landscape.

Approval for the works to begin at Pembroke Port are necessary, says the project's supporters, to create the infrastructure needed to support the creation of a world-class renewable energy and engineering hub.

Andy Jones, CEO at the Port of Milford Haven, has described the project as "creating the foundations on which communities and businesses can thrive.

“This transformational development will play an important role in the region’s post-Covid economic recovery as well as making a positive contribution to Wales and UK net zero decarbonisation targets."

The Pembroke Dock Infrastructure project has been part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government, together with private investment by the Port of Milford Haven.

The works also form part of the wider £60m Swansea Bay City Deal-funded Pembroke Dock Marine project. If approved the works would start this year.