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Hundreds of protesters expected at Powys wind farm vote  

Credit:  By Iolo ap Dafydd, BBC Wales environment correspondent, BBC News, www.bbc.co.uk 29 June 2011 ~~

Hundreds of anti-wind farm protesters are expected at a special Powys council meeting calling for an immediate review of the Tan 8 development policy.

Councillors are meeting at Welshpool livestock mart rather than the council chamber to encourage people to attend.

The motion before them urges the Welsh Government to request a moratorium on all wind farm applications.

Earlier this month First Minister Carwyn Jones said he wanted to see developments restricted.

He has called for powers to be devolved from Westminster to Wales.

Tan 8 is a policy introduced in 2005 as guidance on wind farms. It allows councils to decide on wind farms up to 50 megawatts in size.

All Powys councillors are being asked to meet and vote in Welshpool livestock market on Wednesday rather than at County Hall in Llandrindod Wells.

Corral

Hundreds of opponents of wind turbines in neighbouring Montgomeryshire are expected to turn up to lobby the meeting.

The government in Cardiff established seven “Strategic Search Areas” (SSAs) in Wales.

The SSAs were established to corral all wind farm development into specific areas, rather than allow turbines to be put up across Wales.

There is one area in the north and another in west Wales, two in the Heads of Valleys region and three in mid Wales.

Thousands of Montgomeryshire residents blame this policy for the 15 current wind farm applications in Powys.

If all are approved, that would add more than 600 turbines to the 216 already there.

Following a demonstration outside the Senedd last month, Mr Jones announced an “upper limit” of turbines to be allowed in Tan 8 areas.

He said his government opposed new steel pylons – planned by the National Grid – to export power generated by wind energy into the wider electricity infrastructure.

“We think there should be a maximum level on the amount of wind generation that should come from different parts of Wales and we’ll call on the UK government to respect that view,” Mr Jones said at the time.

Retired barrister Neville Smith, who lives near Berriw, opposes the Tan 8 policy and says he is not comforted by the first minister’s announcement.

“I can see the chap is in trouble and I can see how he’s looking for some sort of breathing space,” he said.

“But to offer an assurance of an upper limit, when that upper limit is the object of everybody’s hatred, is no consolation to anybody at all. Carwyn Jones’s statement was ineffective.”

It is hard to find supporters of the Tan 8 policy for several reasons.

‘Comfort zone’

It has been seen to fail its set target within the industry, and has prompted Powys council to push for an environmental and transport infrastructure review as both these elements were not included in the original Tan 8 policy.

That policy was launched by Mr Jones, when he was environment and planning minister in 2005.

Even the wind energy’s trade body wants a review.

“We don’t feel it’s successful,” said Maria McCaffrey, Renewable UK’s chief executive.

“We had great hopes for it… essentially (it said) if you build a wind farm here you are going to get an easy passage through planning, and are likely of success… this has not happened.

“Does it get our vote, no, is is going to work without comprehensive review, no,” she added.

For most Powys councillors, they will be seen outside their comfort zone, and large screens have been erected for the hundreds who are expected to turn up to watch proceedings.

If the motion is carried, and a wide ranging review focusing the Welsh government to “consider environmental, socio-economic, community, ecological, transportation, cultural, and cumulative impacts ..” of building wind farms goes ahead, then where next for the Tan 8 policy document?

Nothing much is being left out of that list in the motion.

It is hard to see how the Welsh government will be able to avoid responding if, as expected, Powys councillors vote to please their constituents and back the motion.

Source:  By Iolo ap Dafydd, BBC Wales environment correspondent, BBC News, www.bbc.co.uk 29 June 2011

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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