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Pembrokeshire Politics West Wales

Lifeguard facilities can stay at Whitesands Beach, St Davids

STORAGE facilities to provide lifeguard rescue watercraft on one of Pembrokeshire’s most popular beaches, and “one of the best surfing beaches in the country” will be allowed to remain in place.

In an application before Pembrokeshire coast National Park, Mr A Summer of the RNLI sought permission for a temporary use of land for Lifeguard Rescue Equipment store associated with RNLI beach patrols at Whitesands Beach Shop & Cafe, St Davids.

The scheme, supported by St Davids City Council, sought a two-year permission, March – November, for the siting of the shipping container, which will store rescue life-saving equipment including a quad bike and a rescue watercraft necessary to support the existing RNLI lifeguard patrols of Whitesands beach.

An officer report for planners said: “The current planning application was submitted in part due to recent enforcement action taken against the landowner for the unauthorised siting of a shipping container unit.

“An enforcement investigation found that the unit was in breach of planning control and a formal application was required and requested.  The planning statement submitted as part of the application states that the field is currently used as an overflow carpark.

Whilst this may be the case, it does not have official planning permission and it is assumed to operate only under the 28-day rule. The storage container has been on site from March to November annually since 2022 and therefore does not comply with the 28-day rule.”

It added: “Although the container does not enhance the natural beauty of the immediate area, its temporary nature whilst the RNLI find a more permanent solution to store their lifesaving equipment is deemed acceptable on a temporary basis, on this occasion.”

Supporting documents for the application said: “The ‘Visit Wales’ website confirms that Whitesands Bay is one of the most popular beaches in Pembrokeshire. It is a large west-facing expanse of sand with views of Ramsey Island and several smaller islets. It is one of the best surfing beaches in the UK and also popular with swimmers, windsurfers, kayakers and divers alike.”

Further documentation said: “The RNLI has a long-established presence in Pembrokeshire, providing lifeguarding services on behalf of the Pembrokeshire County Council. Whitesands is a Blue Flag beach with a high number of visitors and, as a requirement of that designation, it must be guarded/patrolled by an adequate number of lifeguards placed at appropriate intervals according to the beach characteristics and use.”

It said RNLI data found strong tidal flows were easily accessible to those on stand-up paddleboards (SUPs), sit on top and inflatable kayaks etc who can find themselves very quickly in deeper waters.

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“Without Rescue Water Craft (RWC), the lifeguards opportunities to manage and intervene, should people stray into fast flowing tidal waters, is limited. In such cases, the lifeguards are only left with the option of asking for lifeboard support from St David’s lifeboat station, which in addition is a slower response.”

The application was conditionally approved.