The UK Government has called in two controversial wind farm applications in Mid Wales after objections to the plans.
A joint public inquiry will now be held into proposals for the Llanbadarn Fynydd and Carnedd Wen schemes.
Charles Hendry, Minister of State for Energy, said: “The council in Powys has maintained its objection to these two proposals for wind farms in Mid Wales.
“In these circumstances the legislation provides for a public inquiry at which all the evidence will be independently examined before Ministers make a final decision.
“It makes sense that these applications should be considered jointly in order to ensure strategic consideration of the benefits and impacts.”
There are currently 25 new wind farm bids being made by green energy firms across Wales, with heavy concentrations in Powys and Pembrokeshire and smaller-scale schemes across the country.
Protesters say the plans could destroy Wales’ ability to continue marketing itself as a place of unspoilt beauty.
Montgomeryshire-based Alison Davies, who chairs protest group Conservation of Upland Powys, said people will stop visiting Wales if wind farm developments are allowed to continue.
She said Montgomeryshire depends on its many thriving caravan park tenants who will go elsewhere if they find themselves surrounded by wind farms.
“They’re helping to support businesses that have significant employment within the caravan parks, but also beyond that in the pubs, the hotels, the restaurants and the shops,” she said.
Carnedd Wen is among the biggest schemes planned in Wales.
The RWE npower renewables’ 150 megawatt (MW) project west of Welshpool, would see 50 turbines standing 137m high.
The structures would stand 17m higher than Cardiff’s tallest building – the BT-owned Stadium House – or 30m loftier than The Tower, in Swansea’s Meridian Quay.
It is one of many schemes in Mid Wales, including Llanbadarn Fynydd, that Powys council has no authority to reject – all proposals over 50MW are determined by the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC).
Montgomeryshire AM Russell George welcomed the announcement, saying: “This is another positive step forward in the campaign to stop onshore wind farm developments in Mid Wales.
“This inquiry was triggered by Powys council rejecting both these applications back in March.
“The decisions made by the council were not just sound in principle but they also exposed in the application process, some of the poorly contrived thinking and inadequate planning that the associated developers had put forward.
“What this inquiry will do will ensure the communities who will be affected by these schemes will be able to have their say and formally lodge specific evidence which will have to be taken into consideration when UK Ministers make their final decision.”
A Government spokesman said that details of the public inquiry were yet to be finalised but it is expected that a pre-inquiry meeting will take place in Spring 2013, with the full inquiry to commence later next year.
The spokesman added: “There are a further four section 36 applications for onshore wind farms on which Powys council is due to respond to the Department of Energy and Climate Change by the end of September 2012.
“The Secretary of State will give consideration to the arrangements for any additional public inquiries, including whether to conjoin them with the Llanbadarn Fynydd and Carnedd Wen inquiry, after Powys council have responded to DECC on the remaining applications.”
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