The controversial Rhos Garn wind farm saga has taken a new twist, with the applicants seeking to appeal to the High Court against previous refusals of planning consent.
The appeal process is expected to take up to 12 months, with the matter returning to the planning inspectorate if successful.
The proposal to site 10 100-metre high wind turbines on land near Talgarreg has already been turned down twice, once at planning level and, more recently, at appeal.
The appeal by Renewable Energy Systems (RES) against Ceredigion Council’s decision was turned down in February.
Planning inspector Stuart Wild dismissed the appeal after concluding that renewable energy benefits generated by the proposed Rhos Garn wind farm would not outweigh potential harm to the area’s character and appearance, and the amenity of local residents.
That decision followed a three-day inquiry into the proposed wind farm and site visits by Mr Wild. RES had launched its appeal after Ceredigion’s development control committee turned down its original application in September 2006.
That application to build the 10 turbines, expected to produce some 20MW, was defeated by a clear majority of 17-2 following a two-hour debate by members of the council’s development control committee.
Council officers had recommended a decision to approve the plans be delegated for approval to the council’s director of environmental services and housing once a number of conditions had been met, despite the application site falling outside any of the Assembly’s Technical Advice Note (Tan) 8 areas favoured for wind farm development.
Outside these Tan8 strategic search areas, which include nearby Brechfa and Plynlymon, the planning emphasis is on either small-scale wind farm developments or no such developments at all.
RES development manager David Cox said: “We remain committed to the Rhos Garn wind farm proposal because we are convinced it is a good example of a sensitively designed, low-impact project that can help Wales meet its renewable energy targets, cut climate-changing emissions and bring economic benefits to the area.
“For these reasons, we were surprised at the planning inspectorate’s decision to reject the proposal, which raises serious doubts about the Assembly Government’s ability to meet its 800MW onshore wind energy target by 2010.
“We have taken legal advice and decided to challenge the inspectorate’s decision in the hope that this locally supported project will be allowed to go ahead.”
Concerned local resident Lynwen Evans, from Mydroilyn, said: “I hope the High Court will see what the councillors and inspector saw – a community that has pulled together to fight this development, a community that appreciates the Welsh countryside.”
9 April 2008
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