One Planet Development in Wales – a lived example of permaculture’s core principles

One Planet Development is a forward thinking and radical planning policy unique to Wales. Emerging from a grass roots back to the land movement, OPD was adopted by the Welsh Government in 2011. Following a challenging start for both applicants and planning departments, there are now twenty four active One Planet smallholdings throughout Wales, with new applications on the increase.

OPD enables people to live and work sustainably on their own land, while significantly reducing their impact on the earth. This includes increasing the bio-diversity and bio-capacity of a site, building zero carbons homes from locally sourced natural materials, generating all energy from renewable sources, dealing ecologically with all waste, and meeting 65% of a household’s basic needs from land based enterprises – a figure which includes at least 30% home grown food.

In practice, OPD is quantified by ecological footprinting, which shows how much of the Earth’s resources people are consuming. Practitioners are required to log specific inputs and outputs so that data can be monitored for planning and research purposes.

One Planet Developments have much to offer both rural and urban communities. Surplus fresh, healthy food and other land based produce and crafts are sold locally. Open days provide a way for people to experience different examples of sustainable living. Educational courses bring people together to share tools, skills and resources. Employment opportunities such as apprenticeships may arise from land based enterprises.

While stringent in its requirements, OPD offers a viable and welcome alternative for people seeking a transition to a simpler, far more affordable and self-sufficient way of life. The more sites that use different approaches to meet the requirements of the policy, the more exemplar models others will have to learn from. The Welsh Government have made a bold commitment to a sustainable future for current and future generations. This initiative can help Wales become an inspiration to people around the world.


Stefan Cartwright

Co-founder of the One Planet Council, an independent and voluntary body which supports OPD.