A businessman who wants to open an eco-friendly holiday village could have his plans scuppered – because officials would rather build a windfarm.
Peter Caldwell has come up with a blueprint for 12 energy efficient log cabins, designed to attract thousands of “green” tourists to Coed Lewis, near Llyn Brenig, each year.
The 30-year-old has already invested £40,000 in the scheme, after giving up his well paid job in pharmaceuticals, and re-mortgaged his house to focus on his dream.
But yesterday it emerged Denbighshire planners are recommending the idea for refusal – because another developer is bidding to build a 13-turbine windfarm, next door.
It means Peter will now face crippling debt, if councillors agree his site is too close to an area named by the Assembly government as suitable for a windfarm.
A little-known planning rule wipes out development from areas around windfarms, which are being encouraged as the future of environmentally friendly energy production across Wales.
It means even though there are few objections, the log-cabin scheme, which Peter hopes would bring 3,790 tourists to North Wales every year, is likely to be snubbed.
Peter bought the land at Coed Lewis for £23,000 in good faith in 2005 with the aim of building the log cabins, and has already spent another £17,000 on the project.
Only later did he learn Corwen developer Tegni Cymru, has submitted plans for a 13-turbine windfarm right next to his plot – although that proposal has yet to be approved.
WAG guidance states “local authorities should be aware that other developments could sterilise land for wind power proposals.”
A report to go before Denbighshire’s planning committee today says it would therefore be “inappropriate” to grant permission for the cabins – which ironically, would be powered by small turbines.
Peter, of Weaverham, Cheshire, said: “It all came about through the Hiraethog Project, run between Conwy and Denbighshire, which has recognised what a gorgeous area it is, and want to attract people and encourage green tourism.
“On the back of that, I spent a lot of time and my own money. It would be a great attraction.
“If it goes ahead, I will actually be making less money than my former job, but I am really committed to the lifestyle and to eco-tourism.
“But I feel the decision has already been made. I can’t imagine I am going to win.”
He added: “I am a bit upset about it all and if they kick it out, I will be quite angry.
“The planning department have been really helpful and are stuck in the middle of it all. They can’t express their personal views to me, and their job has been to uphold the law. There’s been nothing they can do.
“It’s all really difficult to believe.”
But Denbighshire county councillor, Paul Marfleet, said last night: “Saying you cannot give planning permission to anything within an area designated for a windfarm is so broad as to be ridiculous.
“The applicant here has given up his job and sunk his life savings into this.
“So if it wasn’t for the windfarm, we would welcome this as exactly the thing North Wales needs – people with their own money, with no need for grants, coming in to help the tourist industry with something that is environmentally sound. It means you are sterilising huge parts of the landscape and blocking worthwhile developments for the sake of a windfarm.”
The windfarm plan has yet to be discussed by Denbighshire. No-one at Tegni Cymru was available for comment.
by Roland Hughes
12 December 2007
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