Planning permission has been granted for the first section of the Tywi Valley Path.

The ambitious project is for a walking and cycling path between Carmarthen and Llandeilo through the stunning Tywi Valley.

The path will follow the route of the former Carmarthen and Llandeilo railway line as much as possible, close to the River Tywi; and is expected to boost tourism and the local economy, as well as encourage active and sustainable travel.

The application which went before the council’s planning committee sought full planning consent for the western phase of the path between White Mill and Nantgaredig.

The proposal is for an unsegregated, shared use tarmac path approximately 3m wide, with a 1m verge each side; for a length of approximately 4.6km.

The total length of the path, when all the sections have been completed, will be around 19.5km or 16 miles.

Following the meeting, Director of Environment Ruth Mullen said: “This is a flagship project for the council and forms part of our ambition to make Carmarthenshire the cycling capital of Wales.

“As well as providing a safe and sustainable link between rural communities, we believe the path will be of huge benefit to our leisure tourism economy, particularly to the local attractions, accommodation providers and food and drink premises along the route of which there are many.

“The possibilities are endless in terms of the opportunities it will bring to local businesses and discussions are already underway on how they can get involved.”

It is estimated the path could attract at least 15,000 visitors a year generating between £860,000 and £2million in the local economy.

The path is being developed in phases; with negotiations with landowners ongoing and funding sources being identified as the scheme progresses. It is expected to cost between £5 and £8million in total. Funding has already been secured through the Welsh Government’s Local Transport Fund towards the project.