There is “absolutely no justification” for plans to build five wind farms and an overhead power line through Mid Wales, a planning inquiry has heard.
Despite an urgent need for wind farms in the UK, there is no argument for such large scale development in this region, the hearing was told.
More than 300 protesters marched to the Royal Oak Hotel, Welshpool, for the opening of a nine-month inquiry into the plans.
It is proposed to build wind farms in Llanbadarn Fynydd, near Llandrindod Wells; Llaithddu, near Newtown; Llandinam, near Llanidloes; Llanbrynmair, near Machynlleth; Carnedd Wen, near Machynlleth; with a 132kV overhead electric line connection from a Llandinam wind farm to the Welshpool substation.
The plans are being fought by The Alliance group, which is made up of 21 organisations together with Powys County Council.
Simon Bird QC, for Powys County Council, told the inquiry: “Despite the acknowledged urgent need for wind farm development, there is no public interest justification for allowing the scale of development that is before this inquiry, let alone the many other proposals due to be considered in the area. There is absolutely no justification for accepting wind farm or grid development that will exceed the environmental capacity or which has not taken reasonable steps to mitigate the harm it will cause.”
The inquiry was triggered when the county council refused to support their construction.
The five planned wind farms are all above the 50 megawatt jurisdiction of the Welsh Assembly, so are dealt with by the UK Government’s Department of Energy and Climate Change.
Patrick Robinson, for Vattenfall, one of five applicants for the windfarms, told the inquiry that there is no evidence they would harm tourism – a major concern of protestors.
Marcus Trinick QC, for firm RWE Renewables, added: “The wind farm represents a £200m investment, of which an estimated £31m will be spent with local suppliers during construction and a further £76m during construction elsewhere.”
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