A TWO-year planning battle with the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park (NP) has been won – and the names of 79 servicemen who died in the Freshwater West maritime disaster will now be on permanent display.
Only three people survived the sinking of two Landing Craft Guns Ls 15 - 16 and the HMS Rosemary in April 1943. In 2000 a simple stone memorial was erected in the car park at Freshwater West to commemorate one of Wales's worst maritime disasters.
For the 70th anniversary of the disaster in 2013, Dai Boswell, District Parade Marshall for Pembroke Dock, commissioned two new plaques bearing the names of all who died.
But he was ordered to remove them because he did not have planning permission and the National Park drew up a list of stringent demands so he went to local MP Simon Hart for help. A two-year battle over planning followed.
"Considering that we are talking about a site on the edge of a car park and between a public loo and large red emergency signs, I thought the National Park demands were a bit over the top," said Mr Hart.
The National Park planning officer originally stated that he wouldn't support the application as he was worried about the "cumulative effect" that such a memorial would have and added that a protected species and habitat report would have to be submitted, as well a traffic management plan.
"I fully support the Parks' objective of protecting the landscape but this was clearly going well beyond that. What other disasters with the loss of 79 lives are there to commemorate in Pembrokeshire? We were talking about one extra boulder with two plaques on it, nothing more," said Mr Hart, who then entered into a spirited exchange of letters with NP boss Tegryn Jones on the matter.
After a lengthy exchange, the landowner (the National Trust) applied for an additional boulder with the plaques and a change of use to a "memorial site" and permission has now been granted.
"I am so pleased that common sense has prevailed," said Mr Hart. "Now we are working hard to find the right boulder and get the plaques up in time for the anniversary in April."
Simon Hart MP
House of Commons
15, St John St
or 0207 219 3000