Wales’ First Minister has demanded that there should be a public inquiry into the proposed Gwynt Y Mor wind farm.
A campaign war has been taking place between those for and against the offshore wind farm ever since nPower lodged an application with the Department for Trade and Industry in 2005.
On BBC Wales’ ‘Election 2007: The Debate’ Rhodri Morgan said: “It needs a full public inquiry and we are calling for a full public inquiry.
“It’s as simple as that, it’s not an issue about the constitutional anoraks – an issue about who should be in charge of it – it needs a full public inquiry with such a massive potential impact.”
Mr Morgan’s comments have been hailed as a small victory by Save Our Scenery, who have vociferously campaigned against the wind farm, which they say would be a blot on the landscape and detrimental to tourism.
The comments followed a protest by campaigners from across Wales outside the Welsh Assembly buildings, who were voicing their concerns about wind farms.
However, the decision on whether the Gwynt Y Mor wind turbines, of which there would be over 200, should be built 9 miles off the coast of LLandudno, rests with the Department for Trade and Industry, based in London.
Mr Morgan, who was in Llandudno yesterday, went on to say: “A public inquiry enables the arguments to be tested on both sides, the inspector makes a recommendation to the secretary of state for trade and industry.”
Plaid’s Ieuan Wyn Jones went further, saying that the decision on whether Gwyn Y Mor gets the go ahead should rest with the Welsh Assembly.
A spokesman for the DTI said: “There’s a scheme with us, we’re not any further with regards a decision, Gwynt Y Mor is very controversial and there are many aspects to consider.”
With regards a public inquiry, the spokesman said ‘we’ll see how it goes’, and said he was wary of ‘electioneering’. He added that he could not put any time frame on the decision of whether Gwynt Y Mor would get the go ahead, saying that there were ‘lots of
wind shore farm projects to consider’.
John Lawson-Reay, chairman of Save Our Scenery, welcomed the call for an inquiry.
He said: “This is what we’ve been calling for ever since we’ve been aware that an application had been made.
“We have made objections to the DTI for the last 18 months, and we think it is undemocratic that they make the decision.”
The campaign in favour of Gwynt Y Mor has been orchestrated by the Sustainable Energy Alliance, who say the wind farm is essential to provide electricity and cut carbon emissions.
John Lincoln, SEA coordinator, said: “We do not think an inquiry is necessary but if one does take place then we will be fully cooperative.
“Consent for the windfarms is essential…if we are serious about reaching the carbon reductions set by the Kyoto agreement.”
The BBC’s election coverage will continue tomorrow at 10pm on BBC and Radio Wales.
By Tom Simone
2 May 2007
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