Wales

Anglesey Council apology over lighthouse bell replacement 'error'

Penmon lighthouse
Image caption The lighthouse at Penmon was built in 1838

A controversial plan to replace a lighthouse bell was given the go ahead due to "human error", forcing a council to apologise.

A "procedural error" saw Anglesey council's planning officers grant Listed Building Consent for alterations at Penmon's Trwyn Du lighthouse, avoiding scrutiny.

Plans involved replacing the hazard warning bell with a standard foghorn.

Despite the mistake, the council said the decision would stand.

Requests were made by local members to "call in" the item to the planning committee, which should have seen the plans decided by councillors rather than officers, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Trinity House, the authority for lighthouses, said the current system was no longer reliable for mariners and a new device would be "simpler to monitor and maintain", with the fog warning bell to remain in place but unused.

Cadw, the Welsh Government's historic environment service, raised no objection to the plans as they "did not adversely impact upon [the lighthouse's] character".

Image caption The bell on the Penmon lighthouse has rung every 30 seconds since 1922

A planning committee report said while one member had withdrawn their "call-in" request, another - Councillor Carwyn Jones - had refused to do so. This was not spotted until after planning consent was awarded.

The report said the failure to respond to the call-in request was because of "human error".

Officers sought legal advice and said the decision will stand unless challenged and overturned in the courts.

Image copyright Plaid Cymru
Image caption Seiriol councillor Carwyn Jones called nearby Puffin Island "a huge attraction"

Mr Jones described it as "a high-profile and contentious application", saying many people had contacted him about the "negative impact" on tourism.

"With only 11 lighthouses remaining around Wales, and with Trwyn Du being the last to have a bell, it should be left as it is," he added.

Andy Middleton, who runs the "Save the Trwyn Du Lighthouse bell" Facebook group vowed to fight the decision.

A spokesman for Anglesey council apologised, adding: "We are confident that the appropriate considerations were taken into account in determining the application."

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