Protesters attended a demonstration today calling for urgent legislation to clamp down on  second and holiday homes.

Around 50 people turned out in Llangefni, Anglesey  over concerns that villages and towns across the island are “changing before their very eyes”.

Campaigners called for stricter planning and taxation measures to be introduced to try to halt the spiralling increase in second home ownership.

2011 census figures showed that 43% of homes in Rhosneigr and 34% in Trearddur Bay were empty for most of the year, but campaigners believe that the ratio is now as high as 70% in some villages.

The event follows a similar protest in Caernarfon last month which saw members of Nefyn Town Council arrange a 20 mile walk to demonstrate their dissatisfaction over hikes in house prices as a result of properties being snapped up as holiday or second homes at an “alarming rate,” thus “pricing people out of the very communities they were raised.”

Gwynedd Council  has overwhelmingly backed calls for a cap on the number of second homes in a community, with housing chiefs stating that 40% of properties sold in the county during 2019/20 were holiday homes or buy-to-lets.

Anglesey Council’s cabinet has backed similar calls while also writing to ministers calling for any application to convert a regular dwelling into a second home to first have to obtain planning permission – with second homes are said to have made up 36% of the island’s house sales last year.

The authority is also believed to be losing out on around £1m a year in lost income due to several second home owners using a tax “loophole” to switch from domestic to business rates – often ending up paying no rates at all.

To keep in line with social distancing guidelines, Saturday’s gathering had to be split up in two so that no more than 30 people were in close proximity.

Rosemary Barry, who helped organise Saturday morning’s demonstration in Llangefni town centre, said that the event had been inspired following a “marked increase” in the number of holiday homes.

“By now you’re talking over 70% of houses in some communities being holiday homes,” she said.

“Having been organised at short notice, its great to see so many turn out and goes to show its an issue being felt across the island and that people are angry.

“The popularity of holiday homes means that prices are just shooting up overnight, I know local people who’ve been saving hard to buy a house but end up getting outbid every time.

“The houses end up being empty for most of the year which leads to schools closing, in reality buying a few groceries in a supermarket doesn’t end up helping the economy anywhere near to how much they think they are.”

Aled Job of the Gwlad party said that second homes was having a “clear impact” on traditional Welsh speaking communities, reiterating their stance backing a 500% second homes council tax premium rather than the 35% currently in place on the island.

The island’s MS, Rhun ap Iorwerth, added: “The event shows that people have realised the emergency now facing the housing market in areas such as Ynys Mon.

“Something has to be done, there are steps that can be taken in terms of planning and taxation policy as the way things are going our young people are being priced out.

“We know the percentage of second homes is growing and has raised staggering figures in some areas, look at somewhere like Moelfre where up to three quarters of houses are now said to be second homes.

“How can being largely dead over the winter not impact on the character of a village?”

A Welsh Government spokesman said that they recognised the challenges second homes present to the affordability and availability of housing in some communities in Wales.

While speaking in the Senedd recently, Welsh Language Minister Eluned Morgan conceded it was a “really complex issue” but that the Government was determined to make it possible for people who are brought up in an area to be able to stay there.

She added that Wales was the only UK nation where local authorities can charge up to a 100% premium on the standard rate of council tax on second homes.