Campaigners now face an anxious wait of several months to learn whether they have succeeded in blocking plans for five windfarms and an overhead power line.
A year-long planning inquiry into the controversial plans for the windfarms in Mid Wales was brought to a close by inspector Andrew Poulter yesterday. Mr Poulter will make his recommendations following the inquiry – the longest of its kind ever held in Wales – to energy secretary Ed Davey in September, before a final decision is made by the Government.
The outcome of the inquiry will be key to whether a controversial 33-mile power line needs to be built to take the energy generated at the windfarms to a substation at Lower Frankton near Oswestry.
The hearing at The Royal Oak in Welshpool started in June last year to examine plans for five windfarms and a related overhead power line. Campaigners fear the schemes will devastate the tourism industry and scar the landscape.
In his closing comments, Mr Poulter commended the “extraordinary” work of volunteer members of the The Alliance campaign group, made up of campaigners from Mid Wales and Shropshire, who who attended the inquiry throughout to battle the plans and question the developers.
He said: “It was always going to be perhaps the largest and most complex, and certainly the longest, planning inquiry held in Wales.
“I have been immensely impressed by the quality of the evidence presented by all the witnesses at every stage.
“The Alliance has absolutely mastered the massive volume of complex material before the inquiry.
“They have done this and more as private volunteer individuals.
“Their efforts are truly extraordinary.
“They have committed an enormous part of their time over the last year and before and no doubt had many sleepless nights.”
The Alliance used the final session of the inquiry to spell out why Mr Poulter should recommend the plans should be thrown out.
Developers behind the plans gave their arguments over why the plans should be approved.
Richard Kimblin, spokesman for the Fferm Wynt Llaithddu group which wants to build 29 turbines at Llaithddu, argued there was support for the plans among the public and said the bid was the best possible application which was sensitive to the local community.
He said community meetings had been held and added: “The majority of attendees supported the application.
“A good proportion of the attendees changed from “concerned” to “support” having seen the detail of the scheme.
“The candidate turbine was chosen specifically to avoid the need to carry out improvement works to county highways and to yield visual and noise benefits.”
Patrick Robinson, on behalf of the Vattenfall group which wants to build a windfarm at Llanbadarn Fynydd, dismissed claims the scheme would significantly harm tourism.
He said: “Visitors would undoubtedly note the presence of windfarms but there is not third party evidence to indicate that the development would adversely affect visitor numbers or spend to a significant or unacceptable degree.”
Proposals have also been put forward for windfarms at Llandinam, Llanbrynmair and Carnedd Wen.
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