The council’s planning committee is being “threatened” with the prospect of appeal by the developers of wind turbines, say members.
Faced with an application for two 30m turbines at Llandyfrydog, councillors said they still lacked clear guidance for dealing with turbine applications in the absence of supplementary planning guidance, which is currently being written.
However, members were forced to make a decision after the developer declared he would appeal on the grounds on non-determination should the committee fail to determine the application.
Cllr John Penri Williams said there was an “element of threat” in the developer’s intention to appeal.
He said the committee would not have the guidance it needed on the issue until the supplementary planning guidance was in place.
Cllr Hefin Thomas also said the prospect of an appeal was a threat to the committee.
“How many other applications which are currently with the council will be taken to appeal if we don’t make a decision on them?” he asked.
However, committee chairman Arwel Roberts and planning officer Dewi Ffransis Jones denied the prospect of an appeal was a threat to members.
“It’s not a threat – those are the rules we have to follow,” said Cllr Roberts.
“The council is stuck between a rock and a hard place.”
Cllr Aled Morris Jones, who addressed the committee as the local member, said the appeal procedure was a “statutory process and not a threat”, but asked the committee to defer the application until the “proper policies” were in place.
“We need a roadmap and the roadmap we have is 20 years out of date,” he said.
“How can you make a sound decision based on out-of-date policies?”
Mr Jones said the application had been withdrawn from the agenda pending the publication of the council’s wind turbine checklist in March, but would now have to be determined.
Cllr Thomas said the development would have a negative impact on the landscape and he would not support the application.
Cllr Ken Hughes acknowledged the subject was “controversial” but recommended approval.
Cllr Clive McGregor seconded Cllr Hughes’ proposal.
“The size of the turbines is a little excessive, but they’re not as high as the electricity pylons which are nearby,” he said.
Mairede Thomas, who spoke against the application at the meeting, said that much of the information regarding the development was “absent, misleading or incorrect” and that it would have a “significant adverse impact” on the surrounding area.
John McGarry, who spoke on behalf of applicant Owen Rowlands, said the concerns of objectors did not warrant refusal and that the application complied with national and local planning policy.
The development would not have an adverse effect on the surrounding area, he said.
Four committee members voted to approve the application and four voted against the development, but the chairman’s casting vote granted permission to the turbines.
Following the meeting, Mr McGarry of planning consultancy Entrust said: “We take planning law matters very seriously.
“The potential route to appeal a planning application on the grounds of non-determination is not a threat.
“The possible course of action is in accordance with planning law.
“All planning applications for wind turbines or otherwise are required to be determined within a statutory time frame.”
In March, the committee turned down an application for a turbine at Rhosgoch after being forced to consider the development by the developer’s intention to appeal.
Members found the developer had failed to comply with a request for more information and refused approval.
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