A haven for horse-riding tourists is under threat from plans to build 600ft wind turbines, protesters claimed yesterday.
Scottish Power Renewables unveiled details of plans for 35 turbines in the Dyfnant Forest, near Welshpool, at a public information day.
The company says the scheme would provide power for up to 65,000 homes.
But objectors fear the proposals will harm equine tourism to the area, which is home to a network of safe riding trails
Ann Watson-Smyth, from Meifod, who founded Rainbow Trails in 2003, said: “Thanks to thousands of pounds of European funding we have developed hundreds of miles of trails through the forest.
“They attract equine tourists from all over the UK to stay in bed and breakfast establishments and Lake Vyrnwy Hotel because carriage drivers have already been forced off the roads because they are too dangerous for us.
“We found a safe haven in the forest.
“But these monster turbines would impinge on each and every one of the riding routes.”
She said moving turbines presented a risk of causing ponies to bolt, and said the structures would also spoil the local views.
Mrs Watson-Smyth and her grandson, Monty Pemberton, aged four, joined a protest outside the information event at Llanfair Caereinion Institute.
Carolle Doyle, secretary of Montgomeryshire Against Pylons, said: “After foot and mouth devastated the area in 2001, the Forestry Commission Wales (FCW) got together with the British Horseriders’ Association and made a concordat to develop 10 rainbow trails to bring tourists back.”
She added: “Our forestry strategies tell us our forests are a precious resource and that we should plant more trees to soak up carbon and flood water before it gets into the Rivers Severn and Vyrnwy.
“But these turbines, with associated concrete that would be brought in on lorries from Ellesmere Port, are on an unbelievable scale and would upset the eco-system.”
Scottish Power Renewables said the development of 35 turbines of up to 185m – costing around £2m per turbine – would have a generating capacity of up to 120 megawatts (MW).
It claims the forest provides good wind speed, is within TAN8 search area, is accessible and is not in a designated protected area.
The protest came as Environment Minister John Griffiths wrote to energy companies and planning authorities in an attempt to clarify any confusion surrounding the Welsh Government’s approach towards onshore wind farm development.
Mr Griffiths called on decision makers to respect “maximum installation capacities” for onshore wind set out in the planning guidance document Tan 8 and reminded them that Welsh Government policy provides the “primary basis” for consideration by local planning authorities.
He also reminded them that the country’s future well-being depended on “achieving sufficient supplies of affordable low carbon energy.”
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