A UK Government minister yesterday defended his decision not to visit the proposed site of a controversial Welsh wind farm, saying he could make the decision about the project “in Kathmandu”.
Conservative minister Greg Barker, who last week made it clear there was no possibility of the legislation needed to build a barrage across the Severn being passed before the next election, gave a defence of his handling of the Brechfa West Wind Farm.
Stating that planning inspectorate officials would visit the site and he would assess the evidence for and against the proposal to erect 28 wind turbine generators of up to145ms in height, he said: “It is my job to bring together all those detailed observations and the representations made locally, and to consider them. I could carry out that consideration in Whitehall or Kathmandu, but I have to look at the evidence impartially and reach a decision.”
Plaid Cymru Carmarthen East & Dinefwr MP Jonathan Edwards secured the Westminster Hall debate on the project, saying: “Local people feel that that particular development is being determined in a completely undemocratic manner. Only last week, a group of them travelled all the way down to London to present a dossier to the Department of Energy and Climate Change, and I am confident that the minister has read that document in the meantime.
“They feel that consultation by the planning inspector was lacking, and are as aggrieved as I am that the minister and his team are making this decision without having even visited the area concerned. The minister could have taken his dog, Otto, for a walk in the area, as it is a lovely part of west Wales, enjoyed by tourists.
“How can my constituents have any confidence in the Minister’s decision when he – sitting in his office down here in London – decides on an application for a project that is more than 200 miles away, in a village he does not know, in a community he does not understand and in a county he will not visit?”
Mr Edwards asked for a guarantee no additional infrastructure is needed to connect the turbines to the grid.
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