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Success for wind farm protestors as Powys councillors vote for review of Welsh Government policy

A crowd of around 1,500 protesters got what they wanted as Powys councillors voted for an immediate review of Welsh Government wind farm development policy.

The council unanimously supported a motion urging the Welsh Government to request a moratorium on all wind farm applications at a meeting held at Welsh Livestock Market to accommodate the large gathering of campaigners.

Fears remain that whatever the eventual outcome of the issue UK policy on renewable energy will over-ride Welsh policy.

But the crowd still cheered in support of the council’s stance calling for an immediate review of the controversial Tan 8 (Technical Advice Notice 8) policy.

There were 15 councillors absent and one abstention, but the motion gained cross- party support, with 64 members in favour.

The motion was proposed by Powys councillor David Jones, who represents Guilsfield, near Welshpool, which would be in the centre of proposals by National Grid for a 20-acre sub-station and 100 miles of power cables and pylons.

Addressing the crowds yesterday Mr Jones said: “Right through Tan 8 there’s a huge amount of pain that could be suffered by the people of Mid Wales for very little gain.

“Most of the policy is based on around 30% efficiency; the highest-rated windfarm in Montgomeryshire produces 18%, nothing like 30%. Tan 8 is six years old this Friday and it is in desperate need of review and that’s what my motion seeks to do.”

He said a new generation nuclear power station planned for Wylfa on Anglesey, North Wales, would completely change the face of carbon-neutral generation in Wales. “That would work 24/7, whether the wind blows or not,” he said.

Montgomeryshire AM Russell George said he commended a U-turn earlier this month by First Minister Carwyn Jones who said he wanted to see wind farm development restricted.

Following a demonstration outside the Senedd, Mr Jones said his Government opposed new steel pylons – planned by the National Grid – to export power generated by wind energy into the wider electricity infrastructure.

“There is nothing wrong with a U-turn if it is in the right direction,” said Mr George.

“Other Tans have been reviewed so why not Tan 8. The Welsh Assembly was warned six years ago that Tan 8 could lead to over capacity; the politicians and developers should not ride roughshod over communities.”

The Powys council motion calls on the Welsh Government to consider environmental, socio-economic, health, ecological, transportation, cultural and cumulative impacts of the construction of wind farms and the necessary infrastructures in rural Wales.

It also wants the Welsh Government to carry out a cost-benefit analysis of wind farm energy production when compared to alternative sources of energy.

Rufus Fairweather, who has lived for 35 years in Abermule, where the proposed 20-football-pitch-sized hub could be sited, said he favours investment in micro-generation.

“We have a mini turbine of our own on our house and we are in favour of renewable energy,” he said.

“But this energy is not green and it doesn’t even stay in Wales, it goes to England, just like the water from flooded Welsh villages in the past. It is a complete abomination to cover up our natural countryside with CO²-producing concrete and metal.”

And Jenny Lloyd from Llanyblodwel called for Mid Wales to become a National Park so that it can continue to attract tourists and to save it from the threat of “old-hat” technology.

The special Powys council meeting was held outside Llandrindod Wells County Hall for the first time to cater for the large number of protesters.

The Tan 8 policy allows councils to decide on wind farms up to 50 megawatts in size.