Image credit: The Journey
When I wrote about Mr Biggles' insanely impressive hoard of recycled bicycles, one commenter wrote to say how much they enjoyed the concept of The Journey—the internet TV show that had filmed Mr Biggles' exploits. So I did some more digging to find out what other cool, sustainable projects The Journey had visited. Low and behold, the very next video I came across was a short but insightful visit to Tony Wrench's once illegal roundhouse—the one that caused all the stink for being built without permission in a national park. Just to recap, Tony Wrench and friends—in their quest to live sustainably—built and moved in to some low-impact dwellings based on traditional Celtic roundhouses. Believing (probably correctly) that they would not get planning permission, they didn't ask for it. Given that the land they built on, while being privately owned, was protected from development as part of a national park, they were certainly taking their chances. But Wrench's roundhouse blended so seamlessly into the landscape, it took the authorities ten years to even notice their existence when a plane flying overhead caught a glimpse of light reflecting off a plexi-glass window. The park authorities then entered into a ten year struggle to evict the community, before finally giving up and accepting this as a model form of low impact development.
Every time we discuss a project like this, we get countless commenters who believe that protected lands are protected for a reason, and that those who bend the rules are setting a dangerous precedent. And we get an almost equal number who say live and let live—if these guys could build houses that have less impact than most garden sheds, and can do so without being detected for ten years, what's the point in being a stickler for the rule books?
Politics and philosophical discussions aside though, The Journey episode below focuses more on the joys of living a low impact lifestyle in a place like this. And it certainly looks pretty idyllic on a sunny Welsh summer's day. But I guess it is pretty clear where Tony stands on the eco-modernist vs green traditionalism spectrum...