The Open Spaces Society, Britain’s leading pressure-group for common land, has objected to an application from RWE Npower Renewables Ltd for nine wind turbines at Neuadd-goch Bank near Dolfor, Newtown in Powys.
The society is particularly concerned that four of the wind turbines would be sited on registered common land, Cwmgwyn and Medwalleth commons.
Says Kate Ashbrook, general secretary of the Open Spaces Society, “We are dismayed that the applicants refer to the ‘minor use of land taken up by the turbines and any new access tracks’ on the common. The effect of the turbines on the common and its surroundings is far from minor; it will be very substantial.
“The proposed turbines and tracks will trash part of the common and people’s enjoyment of it. The public has the right to walk over the whole area. The development will also affect those who have grazing rights on the land.
“The applicants claim that they can provide suitable land in exchange, subject to the Welsh environment minister’s consent, but it’s hard to see how any exchange land can compensate for the devastating effect of the turbines on the landscape and people’s quiet recreation there.
“Furthermore, the hillside is crossed by public footpaths and these too will be severely disrupted.
“The Welsh economy relies heavily on tourism, yet this development is likely to discourage people from visiting this beautiful area of mid Wales.”
About the OSS: The Open Spaces Society (formally the Commons, Open Spaces and Footpaths Preservation Society) was founded in 1865 and is Britain’s oldest national conservation body. It campaigns to protect common land, village greens, open spaces and public paths, and people’s right to enjoy them, throughout England and Wales. www.oss.org.uk
Common land is (a) land subject to the rights of others (usually owners of nearby properties), to graze animals, collect wood and turf, etc, or (b) waste land of the manor with no rights. There is a public right to walk on all commons under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000. The commons are recorded on registers held by the unitary authorities. There are approximately 175,000 hectares of common land in Wales, covering more than eight per cent of the land area.
If anyone wants to erect a building, fence or other work on a common, he must either get the consent of the Minister for Environment under section 38 of the Commons Act 2006, or get the minister’s consent to deregister the common and provide suitable exchange land under section 16 of the Commons Act 2006. The minister will take account of the interests of the neighbourhood and the public, among other interests, in deciding whether to give consent under either section.