Nantglyn will no longer become a “modern Tryweryn” after two massive wind farm applications were thrown out by Denbighshire’s planning committee on Wednesday.
County councillors voted against Windpower Wales’ plans to build 16 100m tall turbines next to the current Tir Mostyn development near Llyn Brenig.
They also voted to turn down Tegni Cymru Cyf’s application to build 13 turbines, up to 125m tall, to the south west of the village border.
Members of the public, who had earlier staged a demonstration against the plans outside Ruthin’s County Hall, cheered as the vast majority of elected representatives, in a recorded ballot, voted against their own Interim Planning Guidance.
If either company decide to appeal, however, the decision could well be overturned by the Welsh Assembly, whose TAN 8 policy has earmarked the land for possible wind farm development.
Cllr Neville Hugh-Jones, speaking before the crucial vote, said: “There are things called people and homes and children and education and quality of life and ethics. These things are valuable.”
He went on to claim the felling of trees to make way for turbines could have a potentially catastrophic effect in terms of flooding – comparing the situation to that of Capel Celyn, in Merioneth, which was flooded as part of the Tryweryn scheme to build a reservoir to provide water to Liverpool.
“I have a feeling Nantglyn will become a modern Tryweryn if we vote this through,” he said.
“One tree, I’m led to believe, absorbs 50 to 60 gallons per day of water. That, times 365, is 18,000 gallons per tree per year.
“All that was being absorbed is now going to be free and if you are at the bottom of the hill it is hard luck.”
Planning officer Paul Weaver claimed Environment Agency Wales had not objected to the plans.
TAN 8, the Welsh Assembly’s renewable energy policy, states that within a Strategic Search Area (SSA) the implicit aim is to accept wind farm developments in spite of physical changes to the countryside.
Clocaenog Forest is one of seven such Strategic Search Areas in Wales – and the policy has been refined and approved by councillors in Denbighshire’s own Interim Planning Guidance.
It means an appeal by either Windpower Wales or Tegni could well see the decisions overturned by an Assembly-appointed inspector.
Cllr Eryl Williams, lead member for environment when the Interim Planning Guidance was passed, said: “I was responsible at that point but I had to tie my own mother down today not just because this spoils the countryside but because it also spoils communities – and that is a shameful thing.
“It is hard being a farmer and you are selling lambs for £17 or having to burn them. You think a wind farm will save a family. But at what expense?”
Michael Williams, of protest group the Hiraethog Alliance, speaking about Windpower Wales’ proposed development, claimed an impact assessment accompanying the application had been lacking in specifics and contradictory.
“There are promises of a significant contribution to local economies but there are no specific details,” he said.
“On tourism it says it is not likely to have a negative effect on tourism but it also says people come to Wales for its quiet countryside and unspoiled views.”
Nantglyn resident Jane Yorke added: “You cannot imagine the intensive nature of the noise unless you have lived with it. We need to pursue other renewable energy options.”
Former broadcaster and chairman of Windpower Wales Vincent Kane evoked the memory of Aberfan and Chernobyl in putting forward his company’s case for development.
“It is clean electricity and the reasons I got involved were because I don’t like unclean forms of energy.
“When the turbine comes to the end of its life you just take it away. This project will be a blessing not a scourge.”
By Matt Sims
25 January 2008
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