A leading campaign group has voiced dismay at the sale of a huge chunk of common land advertised for sale with “potential for wind-farm development”.
The Open Spaces Society has responded after it was revealed Eppynt Commons was being put on the market for just the third time in 300 years .
The commons form part of an extensive ridge of high ground to the north of the Brecon Beacons National Park, and south of Builth Wells. More than 2,500 acres, comprising four commons with more than 200 graziers, are up for sale.
Francis Chester-Master, director of the selling agents, Chester Master Property Consultants, said the land, valued at a total of nearly £150,000, is split into four distinct blocks.
“It’s an extremely rare occurrence for land like this to be marketed publicly and due to its interest to both local farmers and wind farm developers it is perhaps unsurprising that we are already receiving a lot of interest and offers,” he said.
The Eppynt Commons have a rich history and once formed part of the Tredegar Estate.
The present owner bought the land in 1984 and this is only the third time the land has being sold since 1700.
Mr Chester-Master said the area, which is classified as grade five agricultural land, also presents a unique opportunity for local farmers as well as nature conservationists and those with sporting interests to purchase land.
And he said they also have potential for wind farm development, subject to planning permission, due to their elevation and the high wind speeds in the area.
The land is registered common land with the graziers having rights to graze sheep, ponies and horses on the common. The various Commons Registers list a total of almost 230 registered graziers on the four plots.
However, Kate Ashbrook, general secretary of the Open Spaces Society, said the body was “deeply concerned” by the proposition.
“These commons are a vital element in the Welsh landscape – open and windswept, wild and free. People can walk there and the graziers depend on them for their livelihood.
“It is worrying that the land should be advertised for wind development. This might encourage prospective purchasers to think they can make money out of these commons; moreover, the sale catalogue states that this is ‘a unique opportunity to buy… unspoilt common land’. It will not be unspoilt if it is defaced with wind turbines.
“In fact, there are many hurdles to wind-turbine development on commons.
“Not only does the development need planning permission, but the developer must get the agreement of the many graziers and obtain the consent of the Environment Minister for works on common land or for the provision of suitable land in exchange — which is of course impossible.
“This wonderful landscape should be owned by a body with the public interest at its heart, such as the National Trust. We fear for the future of Mynydd Eppynt, and shall strenuously fight any plans to develop it.”
A spokeswoman for selling agents Chester Master Property Consultants said they appreciated there is a nationwide debate over the necessity for and the siting of onshore wind turbines on upland areas.
She said: “We believe it is important however that decisions over the siting of wind turbines are left to the Welsh Assembly Government and the local planning authorities to make. As far as who will eventually purchase these commons is concerned, all we can say at present is that whereas these commons have attracted interest from wind farm developers, it is fair to say that we have also had strong interest from local farmers and property owners in addition to a few inquiries from abroad.”
A spokesman for Brecon Beacons National Park Authority, said plans for a windfarm development would likely to be strongly objected to by the National Park Authority.
He added: “Although the four commons for sale fall outside the boundary of the National Park, any large scale wind turbine development there would still have the potential to have a serious detrimental impact on the environment, landscape and recreational opportunities here in the National Park.”