A WEST Wales couple who tried out a pop-up campsite on their farm made four times more money out of the facility than from their Welsh black herd.

Now they are calling for the temporary Covid relaxation in planning regulations to be made permanent to help secure the future of their farm.

Carwyn and Leanne Miles run an organic beef farm on the Pembrokeshire coast near St Davids, along with bed and breakfast and a DIY livery yard and are part of a community-support agriculture scheme.

Last year, the entrepreneurial couple decided to take advantage of an extension to permitted development rights (PDR) introduced to help rural businesses recover from the Covid pandemic.

The rules enabled farmers and other landowners to set up temporary campsites for up to 56 days a year without applying for planning permission – an increase from the original limit of 28 days.

The scheme was due to come to an end on January 3, but it has been so successful the Welsh government is now consulting on making it permanent, something the Mileses desperately want to happen.

Mr Miles said: “We decided to try a pop-up campsite due to the extension to 56 days instead of 28.

“We invested around £1,200-£1,500 to set it up by building three portable showers and three kitchenettes. We had no time to advertise the campsite, so we had to fully rely on Pitchup.

“We were only half full in July, but after three or four outstanding reviews, the bookings came thick and fast. We had a very busy August and our 40 pitches were fully occupied almost every day.”

Mr Miles added that between July 9 and September 3 when the campsite closed, it made the family a total of £43,000.

By contrast, on a good year the family’s herd of 26 organic Welsh black x belted Welsh black suckler cows generates around £10,000.

Mr Miles said that the income from the campsite had made a ‘massive difference’ and would enable them to keep the farm going longer to support themselves and their two children Riko and Tilley-May.

“If we were to invest into the cattle, we would have to restructure the whole business and become a herd of around 75-100 head of cattle,” he said.

“We would have to build more sheds to sleep all the cattle, and this would cost about £220,000 to £270,000 and still would not make as much money as the campsite did in those 56 days."

Dan Yates, founder of pitchup.com – Europe's largest outdoor accommodation provider – said stories similar to the Mileses abounded the length and breadth of the UK.

He added that while Scotland was taking a relaxed attitude to PDR up to September 2022 and the Welsh government was consulting on making the change permanent, the Westminster government had reverted back to the 28-day rule on December 31, 2021.

Mr Yates said: “At Pitchup, we hear stories about how extended PDR has kept farms afloat and given farming families hope for the future almost every day.

“The great thing about the initiative is that it enables farmers like Carwyn and Leanne to take advantage of the boom in staycations during the summer months, but continue providing the high quality, high welfare, locally produced food that the country needs all year round.

“From that point of view, it is a win-win.”

According to figures by pitchup.com, of the £25million that temporary campsites injected into the rural economy last year, the largest proportion of that – £12.9m – was spent off the campsite and with local businesses, bolstering the wider rural community.

“The benefits of temporary campsites go much further than the farm gate,” Mr Yates added.