Welsh Conservative Assembly Opposition leader Andrew RT Davies has been accused of undermining his party’s opposition to wind farms after an application to build a 99.5-metre high wind turbine on his land was submitted.
A company based in Wiltshire called Greenfinch Investments has applied to Vale of Glamorgan Council to build the turbine – which would be approximately the height of the Park Lane Hilton in London – on Mr Davies’ Garn Farm at St Hilary, near Cowbridge.
Earlier this week sources close to David Cameron suggested the Prime Minister wants to go into the next election pledging to “rid” the countryside of onshore wind farms by tearing up subsidy rules and making turbines economically unviable.
Many Tory voters in rural areas hate “unsightly” wind turbines.
In an article for the Conservative Home website during his campaign to be elected leader of the Tory group at the Assembly in 2011, Mr Davies wrote: “I want to break out of the Cardiff Bay bubble and engage with people and local communities in the decision-making process; not ride roughshod over their objections as Labour have with [planning policy] Tan 8 and the imposition of large-scale wind farms.”
In February 2012, Mr Davies and the rest of his 12-strong group sent an open letter to the Prime Minister arguing strongly against onshore wind farms.
The letter said: “As Welsh Conservative National Assembly Members, we have grown more and more concerned about the UK Government’s policy of support for onshore wind energy production. In these financially straitened times, we think it is unwise to make consumers pay, through taxpayer subsidy, for inefficient and intermittent energy production that typifies on-shore wind turbines.”
Chris Elmore, Welsh Labour’s prospective candidate for the Vale of Glamorgan in next year’s general election, said: “That just days after David Cameron said he wanted to ‘rid countryside of unsightly wind farms’ his gaffe-prone group leader in the Assembly, Andrew RT Davies, has had a planning application put in for a 100m wind turbine on his farm at St Hilary in the Vale of Glamorgan is deeply embarrassing.
“Local people, including some Conservative members, have already raised their concerns with me, and are shocked that Andrew RT Davies has kept this quiet.
“He is increasingly becoming a laughing-stock, and it’s little wonder his members are trying to take away his powers to make policy for the Tories in Wales.
“The height of the turbine means that on a clear day it may be possible to see it from seats held by Tory MPs in the South West of England, who I’m sure will be delighted with their Conservative colleague.”
Montgomeryshire Tory MP Glyn Davies, himself a farmer who has led protests against wind farms in Mid Wales, said: “I won’t comment on an individual turbine application. A Spanish company once offered me thousands to site a turbine on my land, but I wouldn’t sign up. I think we’ve already met our targets for on-shore wind generation.”
A spokesman for the Welsh Conservatives said: “This is a renewable developer’s application for a single turbine to power 500 homes with green energy and is not a wind farm. It would be located next to a 225m communications tower, which would dwarf the turbine.
“Andrew RT Davies has no direct involvement with the planning application – which remains at a very early stage. This is a bizarre politically-motivated attack from a Labour candidate best known for his attempts to close Vale schools.”
We asked how much money Mr Davies expected to make out of siting the turbine on his land. The spokesman responded that no contract was in place and he was unable to quote a figure.
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