Opponents of future North Wales windfarm developments in North Wales will have just four months to object under Government plans to fast-track energy projects.
New rules unveiled by trade and industry secretary Alistair Darling will force objectors to state their opposition to proposed developments within a tight timetable of just 120 days.
Mr Darling is determined to cut the time planners and planning inquiries take to deal with contentious power schemes by setting strict “time frames”.
The time limit will refer to both large schemes, which are decided by the secretary of state, and smaller projects which are considered by local authorities.
The move follows a public outcry at a Welsh Assembly blueprint to build hundreds of turbines across North Wales and off the region’s coastline.
t established seven strategic sites for controversial large-scale windfarms across Wales almost doubling the existing 400 turbines.
Areas earmarked for the next generation of projects include the Clocaenog Forest in Denbighshire, north of Carno and south of Newtown, Powys, and Nant-y- Moch, near Machynlleth.
There are also plans for a 200-turbine Gwynt-y-MÃ´r scheme off the coast of Colwyn Bay.
Clwyd West Tory MP David Jones, an ardent critic of wind farm development in North Wales, said: “The thrust of government policy is to override the concerns of local people. It is almost impossible to make a meaningful objection to windfarm developments.”
Under the current system there is a “rough guideline” for councils to consider objections for large-scale energy projects within four months. But this is often overrun and rarely enforced.
According to the new proposals, due to go out to consultation, the Government will set specific deadlines for local authorities and members of the public to make their objections ““ with the maximum deadline for windfarms, nuclear energy plants and other electricity power stations set at just 120 days.
Mr Darling argued the proposals were “common sense” with the average windfarm planning application taking 21 months to be approved.
Even smaller windfarms were hit by considerable delays with the average decision taking 10 months compared to a target of 13 weeks.
By Mark Hookham
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